In the words of Pete Cashmore, Mashable CEO, “Privacy is dead, and social media hold the smoking gun” (qtd. in Nair). The concept of social media has altered how individuals communicate and relate globally and become a routine to its users, with families being the victims of its usage. The theory has evolved over the years, from its earliest form, the telegraph, which was used to convey and receive messages at long distances, to wireless means, telephones, and radios. Later on, the computer era arose and saw the arrival of voice mailboxes, which accommodated blogs and podcasts, then proceeded to the emails which enabled the exchanging of data between computers. In the 21st century, various social network sites, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace, emerged and were considered to simplify interactions among people with common interests in different fields such as education and music (Lopez and Cuarteros 69). Social media has meaningful effects and has fully influenced people’s lives. While entertaining families, informing them, providing them with a chance for reunions, and keeping track of family and friends, it cannot be denied that the platforms discussed above affect communication, lead to disconnect in relations, cause disorders and depression, and erode privacy in households.
Substantial evidence shows that family setups have been distorted by social media, with communication being the most affected. With the evolution in social media, family members prefer online conversations instead of face-to-face interactions; additionally, they rarely engage verbally despite spending time together as they are glued on their gadgets. Noticeably, during dinner or when the family goes out for lunch, the members intently focus on their phones while they should be conversing and enjoying time together (Lopez and Cuarteros 74). Younger generations and siblings in today’s households lack the motivation to communicate and develop diverse personalities due to their parents’ busy lifestyles. Additionally, infants take longer time to pronounce words and learn how to dialect compared to the traditional era. This is as a result of modern guardians’ no longer encouraging speech since they are always busy with gadgets and online interactions.
Social sites, such as Facebook, make individuals’ profiles accessible and visible to other global users of the application. Not only can posts be obtained, but people are also exposed to violence, and sexual exploitation since using the timeline updates can easily be traced. Over the years, it has also become a norm for households to create networks to talk about their experiences, such as childbirth and recovery or family events. The shy members also find it convenient to open up through this means (Turkle 185). For them, the platform shields them from humiliation and judgment as it does not appear weird to pause between typing as it would have been in the case of conversing face-to-face.
Parents also reveal photos of their children to strangers as soon as they are born, which is not considered ethically right since it might lead to exposing them to risks such as abduction. Individuals who knowingly share their details on websites are subject to stalking and data scraping which can be picked for malicious usage (Lopez and Cuarteros 72). While one might reason that the said platform has violated online rights to privacy, such stalkers claim the owner’s consent since it was uploaded publicly.
Due to technological advancements, life has transformed drastically and affected teenagers’ lives and activities, making online sites a typical socialization and communication method among them. Studies have shown that daily youths post and update their hang-out spots, sports, photographs, or fashion in search of validation and feedback from other people (Nair). Through the remarks, they enhance their esteem and enjoy the pleasure of obtaining different opinions from outsiders rather than express themselves towards their family and siblings.
Moreover, teens using social media are prone to cyberbullying and harassment on the Internet from the circulation of rumors, life threats, hate speech, and sexual comments on the photographs they post. Scholars argue that such victims have poor social skills due to their weak mental individuality and develop emotional responses like depression, frustration, esteem issues, and most end up being suicidal. Phones received by adolescents as gifts from their parents come with the expectation that they should answer whenever their guardians call (Turkle 173). On the contrary, the children feel that whether or not to pick the phone solely depends on them, with some explaining that they purposely do not receive calls to avoid their parents.
People require social relations to fit in and live harmoniously; however, virtual means cannot be trusted to create and sustain healthy relationships. In the past, interactions were in person, as people watched television in unison compared to the current trend where there are disastrous effects on family bonds resulting from advanced social media. Presently, siblings no longer meet often to see their elderly parents due to the increased use of a mobile phone to communicate and send money to them. Nevertheless, when they meet, the get-together constitutes individuals slouching over their devices, taking photographs and posting them on media platforms rather than conversing and taking part in the event (Nair). Social media has addictively occupied peoples’ mentality and a large percentage of their time when they easily link with the world outside, consequently distancing themselves from those closest. Non-personal communication intensifies conflicts among siblings since everyone has a different understanding of information sent, and, finally the message intended to be delivered will not reach them as planned.
On the contrary, several scholars have advocated for the use of social media to positively impact family dynamics, pointing out unification as its most significant accomplishment. Besides the scheduled visitations in divorced families, children and their parents interact through social platforms even if they do not live together. Posts on social media prevent them from feeling as if they are absent in their kid’s life, and activities with a sense of security have been ensured since they know they can get in touch anytime (Nair). Kindreds living separately due to work locations also benefit from this concept; despite the distance between them, they can communicate and find closure.
With the continued advancement of technology, apart from face-to-face communication, social media has become predominant in family dynamics, and the research based on personal interactions and social platforms is being conducted extensively. It is obvious that the future of the social network is uncertain; with people posting every activity online, confidentiality is not assured, thus, opening doors for online bullying, especially among teenagers. The study shows a relation between desolation and social media usage among adolescents as they respond to the cyber-attacks, which affect family setups. Studies have pointed out that family members are the main determinants of how social media influences household arrangements according to the way they choose to use it. In the light of the research, addictive and improper use of social media should be efficiently dealt with as a severe family crisis could emerge.
Lopez, Ayla G., and Kennet G. Cuarteros. “Exploring the Effects of Social Media on Interpersonal Communication among Family Members.” Canadian Journal of Family and Youth, vol. 12, no. 1, 2019, pp. 66–80.
Nair, Anisha. “Positive & Negative Effects of Social Media on Family Relationships & Marriage”. Firstcry Parenting, 2019, Web.
Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. Hachette UK, 2017.