By Jackie Bowles
Social media helps people stay connected with family and friends all over the world. It also helps in spreading the word of current events such as the Boston marathon, or the capture of bin Laden. Social networking is a great tool in searching for a job for both you and your next employer. Missing children can be found more quikly through social media. Social Media can be helpful in so many ways but it can also take over our lives if we aren’t careful.
Facebook and other social networking sites are increasing their traffic every year. In 2008, in the early years of Facebook it had 100 monthly users. Fast forward to 2015, Facebook currently has 1.44 billion active monthly users all over the world. Studies have shown that people spend an average of 7 hours a month connecting on Facebook. Fifty-three percent of people check their Facebook profile before even getting out of bed. A survey of 1000 people across the United States has shown some startling statistics. Of the 1000 people, 56% of Facebook users checked their account at least once a day. Only 29% of those people could only go a few hours before they had to check their Facebook account. And 63% users are checking their Facebook on the toilet.
Is Facebook becoming a trend? Or would we go so far as to say that we as a people are becoming addicted to being connected? Are we spending more time in a virtual world than in the real world? Psychologist Michael Fenichel calls it Facebook Addiction Disorder. Facebook can take over our normal daily activities and is mind numbing. There are a few questions you can ask yourself to see if you really have a problem.
- Are you losing sleep over Facebook and then that effects your day?
- Do you spend more than one hour on Facebook?
- Have you become obsessed with past relationships and start visiting their profiles? Does it gradually start to affect your current relationship status?
- Is your work being ignored because you are using Facebook during office hours?
- Does even the thought of going a day without Facebook cause you stress and anxiety?
As we can see Facebook and other social network sites are becoming addicting. It’s interfering in marriages today. In fact one third of divorces today end because of Facebook.
Let’s imagine for a moment, that we have a busy mom of six very active children. She, like everyone else, likes to have some down time to just sit and relax after a bustling day of children. She becomes involved in her Facebook updates. Online friendships start developing. These online friends soon become very important to her. And life starts revolving around these new friends that she has made. She even goes as far as having social activities with them in person. This mom quickly starts to love the idea of just having fun, forgetting her duties as a mother, and letting her marriage take a back seat. There is so much responsibility in being a wife and mother that it is very easy to become absorbed in these new friendships that come with no responsibility and are just so fun and carefree.
How do you as couple spend your time together? On a device, or do you have real quality time with one another? Do you have to quickly check your Facebook before you can go out? Are you updating your status instead of communicating with your spouse? Are you tempted to revisit past relationships? Have you ever asked yourself some of these questions?
Facebook and other social network sites are taking away our “together time” and creating “tech-ether time.” We need to put away our phones every once in a while. Christian Lous Lange has said, “Technology is a useful servant, but a dangerous master.” Our phones can become our task masters, if we don’t put up safeguards and boundaries.
Putting up social media safeguards
There are many things that we can do in our online community to safeguard our marriage relationships. Research has shown that there are higher levels of trust within a marriage when passwords are shared with your spouse. Others things that we can use to protect our marriage are: Watch the clock, don’t spend excessive amounts of time on social media; Don’t put your dirty laundry out for the whole public to see; Be selective in what you are sharing; Talk about what your online rules before they become a problem; Make sure that you are choosing wisely those you associate with online. Make a rule that you don’t add past boyfriends or girlfriends. As a couple you need to find more time to spend with each other. That might even mean that you turn off your phone so that you won’t have any distractions. We need to focus on what matters most. Spend time with “real” people in “real” time, which will be more fulfilling than connecting with people through a computer or device.
It has become easier and easier to do one more thing on a phone, or make one more connection with someone, or “like” one more thing. I have chosen not to have a Facebook account because my time is needed in raising my family, going to school, and serving those around me. Even though I don’t have a Facebook account, I’ve found that I’m grabbing my phone more and more all the time. I could be better at putting the phone away and using that time to spend nurturing and building my own marriage. I can find better things to do with my time so that I’m actually connecting with my husband and deepening the bond that we share. I would hope that each of us could beware of the time we spend, the friends we have or make, and the things we are doing on social media that could destroy our marriages. We need to protect that which is dear to us. We need to protect those that we love.
Jackie Bowles is a student at BYU-Idaho. She has been married for 12 years. She just had her 4th child (1 girl and 3 boys). Jackie enjoys playing at the park with her children and gardening with her husband. If there is any free time she also like crafting, reading, and cooking.