Get the how, when, and why for using technology in relationships.
First things first: technology and digital content has tremendously accelerated our society. In 2017, not only are we able to receive both world and local news in literal seconds, but our digital society has also given people the opportunity to connect with others around the world and gives social voices to those who would not have them otherwise.
On the other hand, over-consumption of technology and digital content can be harmful to our personal relationships. Often, social networking has negative effects on healthy relationships, sometimes putting the relationship itself in danger.
Think about how many times you’ve said something online or over text that you wouldn’t have normally said to that person face-to-face because it was hurtful. Or, how many times you’ve ignored your parents or friends in person, while you scroll through your phone instead. Our smartphones have become such a distraction for us. That’s why it’s important to admit how much we actually use our phones and what small changes we can make in regard to our tech habits to make ourselves more present in our relationships with others.
Below are helpful ways to make deeper connections and avoid harmful relationship habits due to overconsumption of technology.
1. Talk in-person as much as possible.
We all know there are things we might want to say, but won’t – in-person, at least. Technology makes it easy to simply ignore people. Whether that’s not responding to phone calls, texts, Snapchats, and more, technology can create a barrier between us. If you’re having problems with a friend or a significant other, talking in person is the best way to handle it – not a long strand of text messages back and forth.
Talking in-person enhances communication – because communication is more than physically speaking – it’s body language, eye contact and expression. Behind a messaging screen, those things are not visible. You only really see a quarter of the potential communication through texting and messaging. This also means that you could misread someone’s tone. What appears on your phone is the text only – it doesn’t include the tone in which someone said it, which gives a big insight on how that person is actually feeling. Speaking face-to-face nearly eliminates this barrier.
2. Connect wisely and thoughtfully. You don’t have to completely disregard your phone to be connected with someone.
Think about how you would feel if someone was ignoring you while being on their phone, or trying to spend time with someone who seems to be distracted because of their phone. While you don’t have to go on a total detox, think about how you’re physically engaging with someone. Is your phone put away when you’re hanging out with people, or are you checking it every two minutes at the dinner table?
If you’re serious about healthy relationship habits, remember to stay in the moment. Be present. Engage with whom is sitting across from you. Disregarding them could put up a metaphorical wall, contribute to future communication issues and cause them to lose overall trust in the relationship. Plus – it’s just bad manners!
3. Encourage offline activities.
It isn’t hard to see why texting, snapchatting and direct messaging each other is more popular than talking on the phone – it’s quick, easy and you can be doing multiple things at once while communicating with someone through messaging. However, try using your phone just to make in-person plans. Text a group of your friends to meet up at a coffee shop, instead of sending each other hundreds of messages in a group chat. Or call your family and make Sunday dinner plans instead of chatting on the phone for a couple minutes.
You’ll have so much more fun sitting across from real people than staring at a screen. Along with talking in-person, getting to know each other offline fosters a deeper connection built on trust and familiarity. Plus, you’ll be making REAL memories, instead of sitting at home scrolling through social media looking at the memories everyone else is making.
All-in-all, technology isn’t evil. It’s helped us advance and communicate in ways we never thought possible. However, when it comes to personal relationships, we should recognize how we’re using technology to connect with them. Take those relationships offline every once in a while, and you’ll find that maybe you don’t need technology that much – at least while you’re together!