The contemporary society is closing to the state of total digital inclusion, which means that soon the vast majority of people will become the constant users of various digital technologies. The use of devices such as tablets, cell phones and computers is getting more and more popular, and it starts to penetrate every aspect of people’s lives. The importance of digital technologies and the Internet for the modern society is growing rapidly. As a result, such platforms as social media are starting to make a very serious impact on the social relationships affecting the atmosphere within families, interpersonal communication and changing people’s social manners.
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There are several ways of social media influence on our in-person relationships. First of all, with the appearance of social networks our communication with other people has become much denser due to the fact that digital technologies allow us meet much more people than we would without using the Internet. With the help of social platforms we are able to discuss our interests and join various groups and clubs online, chat about film we like, participate in political debates or share books we enjoy and comment on other people’s blogs. Secondly, we become attracted to online intimacy because of the illusions of its perfection.
Often, our virtual friendships seem much closer than the ones we have in reality, as a result we start to isolate ourselves from real communication and draw on our online relationships more. Thirdly, the latest researches show that social networks are able to transmit emotions (Jain, par. 5). This means that the connections we have online can influence the way we feel. For example, if someone we talk to via social media is aggressive it increases our own level of aggression by approximately fifty per cent. Finally, the constant flow of information about other people’s lives makes us feel that our own lives do not develop the way we would like them to, and that our success is nothing compared to the achievements of others.
Relationships people practice within their families have undergone various changes with the appearance of digital technologies. It is a common case that parents of toddlers and preteens use their smart phones and tablets as “babysitters” (Villegas, 6). In public places such as restaurants or shopping malls parents prefer to distract children in the moments of tantrums with various devices. At home, the use of digital technologies and Internet is applied when a child needs to be kept busy to let the parents do their household duties. The exploration of heavy use of social networks and the Internet is a subject of many psychological researches.
At the same time, the really important issue is the lack of personal communication between family members due to the social isolation caused by the use of technologies and its impact on the relationships between parents and children. This is one of the reasons why many social networks such as MySpace and Facebook have registration regulations that do not allow children younger than thirteen years to have accounts there (O’Keffe, Clark-Pearson, par. 16). Such communication deficiency between children and their parents is very likely to cause developmental issues for the child, ruin the important feeling of belonging in the family, and destroy the understanding and connection between the family members. The accessibility of online information of all kinds makes the communication with parents seem needless, especially when it comes to private and sensitive subjects, as a result children start to rely on social media as mentors and parents miss out on the events happening in the lives of their growing up children.
Social media have their own rules of etiquette and manners, which have influenced our communication with people. For example, communication on various networks obliged us to comment, like and share the pictures and posts of our friends, and befriending or unfriending are extremely delicate occupations (Appenbrink, 1). Neglecting these rules is considered as rudeness and may cause a conflict with a friend. The habit of constantly checking news on social media makes people use every free minute to use their smart phones, laptops or tablets to log in. As a result, every bus stop or metro station is filled with people focused on their devices.
Traveling is unimaginable without computers, because looking out of the window is no longer an option and real conversations with strangers are very rare. Switching on a computer is the first thing people do in the morning, checking the message boxes on social networks today comes along with having morning cup of coffee. Social networks based on visual images such as photographs make people use every mirror they see to make a so called “selfie”, or take a picture of a meal they are having to post it online later. There are even special rules and instructions explaining ways of taking the best “selfies”, these instructions include the angle of the camera or smart phone, the best looking head tilts and leg positions. In fact, the “selfie” fashion gave a push to the extreme popularity of tattoos and gyms.
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Social media are powerful means used by the contemporary society with the purposes of communication, entertainment, business and education has penetrated all of the spheres of people’s lives and created many positive and negative impacts. In order not to get sucked into the virtual world and lose connection with reality we must be aware of the effects social media produce and mediate our use of these resources.
Appenbrink, Kristin. The Guide to Social Media Etiquette. 2014. Web.
Jain, Rachna. 4 Ways Social Media Is Changing Your Relationships. 2010. Web.
O’Keffe, Gwenn Schurgin and Kathleen Clark-Pearson. “The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families”. Pediatrics 27. 4 (2011): 800-804. Print.
Villegas, Alessondra. “The Influence of Technology on Family Dynamics”. Proceedings of the New York State Communication Association 2012. 10 (2013): 1-17. Print.