Real Life Matters More than Apps

How to keep social media from ruining your relationships.

For better or worse, social media is a consistent—oftentimes, persistent—part of our everyday lives. And while it’s a useful tool for networking and meeting new people, it can have a negative impact on our existing relationships.

A 2015 Pew Research study found that 65 percent of American adults and 90 percent of young adults aged 18-29 used social media daily. Other studies show that other media forms—like TV, movies and music—also influence our attitudes and behaviors.

A study conducted by Larry Rosen, a psychology professor at California State University, found that the more people socially interact in the virtual world, the more their individual behaviors and attitudes will be altered to reflect this activity. Rosen’s study also suggests that excessive use of social media can cause anxiety, depression and loneliness. Moreover, certain emotions and attitudes can be altered by virtual relationships.

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Having positive, secure relationships fosters feelings of connectedness—and that can be difficult in the digital world. In this hyper-connected age, it’s important to maintain a healthy balance between virtual and real-life relationships. Here are four ways to keep social media use in check:

  1. Keep your social media use on a timer. Establish a limit for each medium. Treat this time the same as you would with work meetings, gym time or dinner plans.
  2. Limit the number of social media sites you maintain. Keep the ones that are most important to you, and only sustain virtual connections with people you know and who share your interests. 
  3. Increase real-life social interactions. Rather than using social media to catch up with friends and family, call or make an effort to actually meet with them. When you can’t physically be in the same place, video chatting is a better alternative.
  4. Share your goals with family and friends. This will help you stay on track and increase your sense of accountability. 

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