The astounding advances in technology that we have seen over the last couple of decades have improved our lives in so many ways. We have information at our fingertips thanks to the Internet, we can connect with others whenever we want and we can do these things almost anywhere we go. There are downsides to go along with these positives, though. With new technologies come changing behaviors and changing relationships. Becoming addicted to the Internet, social media, electronic devices and the always-available online pornography can have devastating consequences for how we relate to each other.
Social Media and Relationships
In many ways, social media sites improve relationships. We have all experienced the joy of finding and reconnecting with an old friend. Without these sites, would we ever have interacted with these people again? Social media also helps friends and family separated by great distances stay connected. We can share pictures, news and greetings from thousands of miles away.
Unfortunately, overusing social media can wreck relationships with the people who are nearest to us. The problem is that using social media can morph into an obsessive need. Checking to see what your friends are up to online and looking for likes, comments, retweets and shared pictures – these things all feel like rewards. The more you get them, the more you want them. Soon you’re spending more time interacting online than you do with people in real life and your relationships suffer as a consequence.
The improvements in the size, quality and price of mobile devices have only worsened the issue of technology addictions. When you have constant access to the Internet, email, social media, texts and everything else available online, you have the chance to really accelerate your addiction.
Too many people find their relationships deteriorating because they can’t put the phone or tablet down. We tend to have them with us at dinner, while watching television, and during outings with friends or family. When we devote so much time and attention to a device, naturally we take that attention away from the person next to us, and the relationship suffers.
Cutting Back on Technology
The secret to living with our life-changing technologies and still having good relationships is balance. We all need to strike a balance between the positive aspects of social media, the Internet, and our devices, and face-to-face interactions that make relationships meaningful and special. The Internet can never replace real contact between human beings. If you feel like your devices are taking over your life, it’s time to step back, view your life with an objective lens, and make changes.
Cutting back on technology usage won’t be easy, but it is important to the health of your relationships. The first move should be to sit down with your partner or family and discuss the issue. Have a conversation with the goal of agreeing on times during which everyone will unplug. This could be at the dinner table, in bed before going to sleep or for one day on the weekend. Having that time during which technology is outlawed will give you a much-needed breather and chance to have real conversations.
If you try to cut back and find that you can’t do it, you may have a more serious problem. This is one of the signs of addiction. If you struggle to quit or cut back on your own, look for a professional therapist experienced in working with behavioral addictions. These professionals can help you learn to take back your life and your relationships.