Social media is undoubtedly one of the defining aspects of modern life. Wherever you happen to be these days, walking down a busy high street, commuting to work or study, or enjoying some refreshments in your favorite coffee shop, people are intent on screens. Who has liked the last image they posted to Instagram? What’s currently trending on Twitter? Who has just send a friend request on Facebook? With statistics revealing 50% of the world’s population engage with social media, this activity is bound to have an impact on relationships.

  1. What does the study say about it?

Numerous studies have been done about the extent to which social media affects relationships. This one highlighted various issues, beginning with the positives. Social media is all about integrating people into networks, providing a platform where they can share everything from posts about their favorite films or food, to somewhere to air their grievances or debate topical issues. 

  1. Advantages and disadvantages of social media

In many cases, this has made people feel included, especially if they are isolated. Teenagers might have certain problems they are reluctant to broach with family, but social media can provide support on a range of topics. For society members who are cut off because they live in remote locations, suffer disabilities, or might be in COVID quarantine, social media is an outlet to the outside world.

The report also discussed the negative effects. Some users devoted too much time to their social media at the expense of relationships in the real world. There can sometimes be a temptation to tap into the virtual dimension, even when this is intrusive. It is hardly uncommon for couples on a date night, seated at a table in a restaurant, to be engaging in messaging on social media rather than a live conversation with the person opposite. Even when they are focused on their partner, the sound of their phone pinging, notifying them of the latest social media post, will be enough to distract them from the current conversation and fill them with an urge to check their screen.

A major detrimental effect of social media is on mental health. Because site users often feel the need to present the best possible image of themselves to the outside world, a degree of boasting can enter posts. They might brag about a promotion, publish photos of some new acquisition – a gadget or a gleaming new car – or take selfies showing off their gym physique, or the results of cosmetic surgery. This creates an atmosphere of attainment, with site users who can’t afford to keep up with others in their social network experiencing low self-esteem.

  1. How to avoid the negative impact of social networks on your relationships?

Many couples from advise making time to put your phones away and devote yourself to each other. This might seem a wrench for some people, but it would be beneficial, restoring your faith in each other. A good starting point would be to mute those sound effects that usually indicate a new Instagram post or Snap. 

There can also be an urge to use social media to ‘snoop’ on people. For those who are in the early stages of a partnership, looking into Facebook posts can be a useful way of building a more rounded picture of someone’s character. You can gain an impression of their hobbies, their friendship circle. But social media can also open doors to the past. Many a current relationship has been sabotaged by an ex-partner sending a friend request. The best advice? Keep social media for friendship, romance for the real world.