Many are the well-known advantages to modern technology in the online, digital world in our modern daily life with its busy schedules and high demands in the workplace.
However, many are the issues and even serious problems that the misuse of this media can bring us, both immediate and long-term family and relationship problems.
Such problems can arise through misunderstandings and the untimely use and abuse of social media apps, such as whatsapp, facebook and so on. Not to mention the risk and all too real problem of internet addiction to digital social media.
This last one is a growing problem among the very young and the not so young. Nearly everyone nowadays can be consumed with the instant gratification that online social media apps and internet groups appear to provide.
So what are the problems and potential dangers then and how can we avoid them? How can we prevent them from affecting our lives and even damage or destroy our relationships and chances to have a happy, mentally and emotionally balanced life?
This might not be obvious or even apparent to everybody, specially to those who don’t have a relationship. However it is precisely within that group where are often found those affected so badly by their internet or mobile addiction that they have not even been able to establish solid or healthy enough relationships to withstand the passage of time and the diverse challenges that a worthy romantic relationship entails, including all the satisfactions and gratifications that comes with it, needless to say.
With time these problems worsen, like a fish that bites its own tail, by the increased isolation and in time even feelings of loneliness and abandonment that this type of lifestyle may bring.
To talk about the prevention of such condition would go well beyond the scope of this article, but here I have gathered some tips, ideas and suggestions to help prevent this cycle from starting to corrupt our existing relationships. At the end of the list, I’ve also included a few suggestions for those who are still single and looking for relationship and are in need of establishing some solid boundaries.
- Preserve some important connecting times: “mobile-free”. Especially in those times that are more prone to allow or facilitate connection among partners and within the family. Those are such as meal times, particularly during the main meal of the day, whichever that is in your home, lunch or dinner.
- Just as meals are one of the wrong times to let technology creep in and steal away the connection creating and sharing time, so are some other obvious times and places. The very next one that comes to mind is THE BEDROOM, particularly at night time.
- Discuss with your partner which are the key moments of the day, week and year that are important times for them, as family/relationship times, either learnt during their upbringing or as a personal choice. Bring up the importance of focused personal time between the two of you and what is expected or desired to achieve as a couple during those appointed times and events for the couple or family, its importance or role in your lives.
- Compare and talk about how those times can be enhanced OR sabotaged and difficulties by personal distractions such as television, mobiles and computers. Feel free mentioning to one another the family examples of times when that happened in the past and how that made you feel. Invite the other members of the family or partnership to share theirs.
- Definitely have this discussion during appointed times, free from distractions, obligation or hurry. Reserve no more than 25 minutes, but make sure everyone has a chance to talk during this time and share their thoughts on the subject.Needless to say, make sure you do this in a peaceful, comfortable environment with MOBILES put on SILENT or away!
- Just like the saying dictates “Leave your work at the office”, Leave your work and worries outside the door when you come home from work so you can unplug and reconnect with your loved ones at home. And in order to do that and continue with the bonding you need: leave technology and the social media OUT of the bedroom at night or at least on night mode, silently stationed for the night at the dock station.
- If you recognize signs of mobile, internet or online social media addiction in yourself or your partner, be willing to talk about it and the possible ways of help and support available to you, from within the family and also from external sources. This might be a more widespread and socially accepted addiction than others such as drug addiction or alcohol, but nevertheless is a serious problem whose effects in the psyche and life of the addict and those around them are not less harmfull and it won’t be solved overnight.
Addicts and people who are affected by addictions tend to lie, proceed with secrecy, display signs of dependency, become defensive often and possibly are in denial. If this is your partner or a member of your family remember that this may be quite a long process from beginning to the end, but without their admitting they have a problem or without their willingness to change, nothing can be done. As with any other addiction, it is the personal will to heal that will enable the change and ensure success; you can only be there to show your love and support if they are willing to accept it.
These last points apply also to both established relationships and to people who just met and are trying to establish one:
- Be patient with yourself and others. There is a way to say things and gently remind your partner that it might be a better time to check his messages than harshly demand that they put their phone down, screaming at the top of your lungs. Remember how it feels when the shoe is on the other foot.
- Try to establish from the beginning what your expectations are when it comes to times or situations that you both would prefer to expect messages and which ones are better for calls. Some people might be offended or bothered by an untimely choice of either and others by the lack of an immediate response. We and our circumstances are all different and a lack of communication in the subject can create a lot of unnecessary misunderstandings and rough spots. Be clear and explanatory with the subject from the very beginning and ARM yourself with PATIENCE for those times when things won’t go as expected and either of you will not do things as agreed. We are not robots and as with everything else, flexibility and understanding — together with a tolerant loving approach — is always the key and goes a long way!
- Lastly, don’t be cheap with calls and do not try to just make do with chat or text messages. Nowadays, there are many free ways to make a call or video conference, specially via smart phone or Skype. It is not comparable to hear someone’s voice with all of the intonations, tones and emotions than a silly smiley sticking his tongue out or dot dot dot…that can leave a lot of room for wondering and misunderstanding… 🙂 and lack the warmth and affectionate delivery that the human voice and personal rapport does.
Feel free to contact me for any questions on the subject, or any relationship concern
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