Originally published on PhiladelphiaMFT.
With the average user spending over 6 and half hours a month on sites like Instagram and Facebook, it’s no wonder social media has become one of the easiest ways to meet, communicate, and keep up with people. Even though social media has its benefits when it comes to connecting with others, it also has its draw backs specifically in the realm of relationships.
Presenting problems that I’ve seen over the past years in terms of social media include an increase in trust issues with a partner’s use of social media, an inability to effectively communicate in person or misunderstanding what was posted on a social media site, and a person’s need for instant gratification or a response when someone posts something online. If you’ve experienced any problems involving social media and your relationships, here are four ways to improve your social media usage and avoid potential problems:
1. Improve Communication
Learning how to discuss matters in person with people you interact with is important. You can’t take everything to social media and you’re more likely to misunderstand something that was posted online. Actually seeing a person, reading their emotions and facial expressions when they speak can help you understand what it is they’re trying to convey when they’re talking to you. All of that is lost online unless you’re video chatting.
2. Establish Boundaries
Be mindful and respectful about what you post, especially if it has something to do with your friends, family or partner(s). Not everyone is going to share the same level of openness or limits you have when it comes to posting things online. Don’t be afraid to have a conversation about it.
3. Develop a Balance
It’s important to establish a healthy offline presence. Make sure that you’re spending as much time offline with friends, family, and partner(s) as you are online. Also be mindful of how much time you’re online when you’re out and about. If you’re spending time with someone, limit how much you use your phone to access social media. Enjoy the present moment.
4. Increase Your Awareness
Stop and think before you post something online. Regardless of how high your privacy settings are, take a moment to think about how the post or image would be viewed by others or if it would negatively impact you.
Social media’s meteoric rise over the past decade has impacted our relationships and the way we communicate on and off line. Social media should be something that you enjoy, not something that is wreaking havoc on your life and relationships.