Social media has been an exploding phenomenon. And it's available everywhere.
You can login from your computer, your phone, even from your car! It's nice to be so connected. You get to see what your friends and family are doing, you get to see the cute pictures of family who are on the other side of the country, and you get to keep in touch with old friends who you might otherwise lose touch with it. But not all good things come without a vice - including social media.
In addition to the good things, like keeping in touch with friends and family miles away, social media has its downsides, too. For example, in can create distance with people who are right in front of you. You can't help but see this everywhere. People out on a date are texting and updating, kids at the park are playing on the playground while adults are sitting on the benches staring at their screen. And you see it in your own home, too. Instead of talking, reading a book or playing a game together, your family is logged in, updating, and posting.
Social media can interfere with your family, too
There's no intrinsic harm that comes from social media. But as stated before, not all good things come without a vice. If you're finding that your family is pending too much time logged in and not enough time with each other, there are usually a couple things you can do to help get their attention off their screen and back to each other.
Here are 3 suggestions:
1. Make activities more fun than social media
Social media can be distracting. But distractions aren't new. Before social media there were TV's, telephones, radios, newspapers, books, and even fires that distracted people from their family. The truth is nobody looks forward to browsing Facebook for hours. They usually do it in absence of anything better to do. So give your family something better to do.
Plan a family fun night, get out a card game, or go to the community center to do something fun. You'll soon see that social media isn't that important to them anymore.
2. Turn off the Wi-Fi at night
Social media and Wi-Fi are becoming synonymous. If your family doesn't have Wi-Fi, their social media habits will change, too.
Make a challenge for your family (including the grown-ups) to not get on Wi-Fi after a certain time at night. You'll soon see that you probably struggle just as much as your kids do without it. But that's okay, it'll give you guys something to talk about. And that will be the first of many conversations you'll have at nights without Wi-Fi.
3. Leave phones and tablets in the kitchen
If your house is like most houses, there are tablets and phones scattered in random places - on the couch, in the kitchen, in the bathroom, in your pocket, etc.
When your kids are bored, it's not hard to be enticed by a tablet or phone and check to see what's been updated. So instead of keeping these devices so scattered around (and readily available), make a family rule that tablets and cell phones stay plugged in the kitchen (or another out-of-the-way area in your house). This will diminish the random enticements that happen and will force your family (and you) to think twice before checking for updates.
Social media can be a great tool to bring families together. It can also be a tool that creates distance in families. These tips will help make sure social media doesn't come between your family, and that they are using it as a way to connect instead of disconnect.
Aaron Anderson is a therapist and Director of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. He is a writer, speaker and relationship expert. Checkout his blog for expert information on how to improve your relationship.