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Do Cell Phones and Social Media Make Family Relationships Stronger?

Have you heard the debate about cellphones yet? In fact, I should probably be asking how many times have you gone through the debate about cell phones and social media in your own mind? About your own behavior? About what's better for your children? All these kinds of things. 

This is a real topic of interest for families around the world and it should be. Because those things do have an impact on our family. But do they have a positive impact or a negative impact? Do cell phones and social media connect the family together and make it so that we know what's going on in each other's lives? Or do they do the opposite? Do they make us so we don't communicate as well and take time away from each other? 

Hmm, that's what this article is about. Do cell phones and social media have a positive or negative impact on family life? When I was married in 1994, email was a new thing. Yes, I'm that old. I remember my husband saying, "There's this new thing called email and people are wanting us to use it like to send them messages instead of calling them. 

This is going to replace making phone calls." I have laughed like I'm not doing that. I'm not going to go and boot up my computer on my dial-up Network which was new at the time anyway. And I'm not going to take my time and type out every single thing make sure it's grammatically correct and then send it and then wait for how many days until I get a reply. "I am NOT doing that", I said. I said, "That is going to be a fad. 

Nobody is going to use it. It's not going to take off." Hmm, I guess I was a little wrong. Never did I think that I would be the kind of woman who runs a business off of her phone most of the time. I'm texting every day. I'm posting, I'm answering emails I'm doing all kinds of stuff that I thought would be a fad and that would go away. 

In fact, I couldn't run the international organization I do or run teaching self-government, the family program that I teach to parents without my phone and without social media, and without technology. I also never saw anything else. I never saw children being connected to phones. I never saw them putting 5G next to their brains. 

I never even knew what 5G was. And we're now knowing or understanding, there could be some damage happening there. I never knew that there would be psychological damage that could occur on the psyche from social media. I never knew. I mean, here's the thing: When it was coming, I had my suspicions that some of the stuff could go wrong. 

I started to look ahead. I'm that kind of a person. I try to always have a big-picture view and look ahead. And when I did, I thought that I could see there could potentially be issues. And my husband and I decided will definitely not give our children a phone to keep in their pocket at least until they are self-governing. 

Which means they can always choose what's right, good, and true. That they can give themselves instructions and no answers and accept them. And that they will accept our no answers and our instructions as well. Because we did know this thing is a tool. It's not a toy. 

We don't want it to control our children because it can. In fact, we have now seen across the world overwhelming evidence that it can control people. Those devices, the social media can all take over our lives. But can they be good for us and good for our family relationships? I think the answer is yes. But the answer could also be no, perhaps, depending. 

Let's look at both sides of this issue so that you can have a better understanding of what technology does the family relationships and choose for yourself. I do think technology can be good for families as long as the family remembers that it is a tool and not a toy. 

That's an important distinction to make. So, I have cousins that I hardly ever get to see. But I can talk with them and send them a message on social media. I can see what's happening in their family and I can feel like I'm being included in their lives, that's a positive. 

That's a great thing. Also when my husband is working, he's a plumber. So, he's oftentimes laying under people sinks and stuff like that. I can send him a text so that he doesn't feel like he has to answer the phone about picking up milk or making sure that he goes to the post office or calls me back or whatever it is. 

He can do it when it's convenient for him. So, those are positive things. We can have communication and not make life hard for each other. That's a good thing. But some things can be bad. What are some of the negative effects of cell phones and so media on people? Sadly there are more negative effects than there are positive. 

There are negative effects of cellphone usage and social media on family relationships. And one of those really obvious negative effects is that you don't have as much to talk about with the person when you see them. So, if you've already seen all their good news, maybe they got the new promotion at work, they went on a trip to wherever their child learned how to walk. 

You know, whatever it is. When you see them, all you can say is, "Oh, I saw you have a really fun time on your trip. And oh I saw so-and-so did this. I saw this. I saw this." It eliminates some of the questions that are so healthy for relationships. So, what you would say instead if you didn't have all of the social media postings is you would say, "So, how are things going with the baby? What have they been learning and doing? How are they growing right now?" Because you wouldn't already know. And then they could tell you all about it and you could rejoice together. The conversation would be so much more rich and full. 

It really takes good communication skills to watch social media and be able to have meaningful conversations with those same people especially if you don't see those people, those family members very often. 

Let's say you have a child that's moved away from the home or it's a cousin and uncle. Maybe apparently you don't see as often. It's going to take more effort, more thought to put together a really good conversation when you've already seen so many things happen in their life. Another problem that is really concerning is that people don't feel like they want to talk about the problems in their life openly anymore. 

So, when they have a problem, they just want to test it. When I first heard of people texting to break up with people, I thought, "What? How is that even a thing? How could you have a relationship with a person and then just text I'm breaking up with you or texting I quit I'm not working for you anymore." That's very immature. 

How could that even be a thing that people would do? But they do. And that's because they're in the habit of texting everything to everybody so that they don't have to fully deal with what the other person thinks, says, feels. They only have to worry about themselves on their side. 

They say what they want to. They've had their piece. They're done. This means people are not good at their personal skills with each other. They don't know how to solve problems very well. Yeah, that's a negative. Here's another obvious negative. People don't answer their phones. Have you noticed that? You try to call somebody because you really actually want to talk to them. You're like, "I can't test this out. It's going to be like three scrolls of a text." 

But they don't answer so you have to test it anyway. And then they send you back some one-word reply like, "Okay." or something like that. You don't even get to have a connection with them. If people don't answer their phones if you can't hear at least their voice. 

Then it's hard to heal that connection to them. Now, one positive that we probably should have talked about earlier with cell phones is video calls. That's cool, right? Especially if you have family members who are at college or living far away for a while or maybe you're in a situation where you have a blended family or a family that is divided from each other for whatever reason. 

You can see the faces and hear the voices of those children who happen to not be with you at the time. That's a positive. But the negative is a lot of people don't answer their phones so you don't get the chance to bond. Like you used to. You might not have thought of this. But when people don't have open conversations with people regularly, they start to bottle up. 

So, that's a negative consequence of increased cell phone usage and social media. They hold things inside especially people that have a tendency to be a little bit more introverted. They're going to not share as much with people normally. But then when there isn't as much person-to-person conversation, if everything has to be done on a text or online on a social media platform, it feels like it's out for public view. 

A lot of people aren't comfortable with that. And so they'll just not share. They won't have open communication. They'll feel not understood and have a tendency to bottle up their thoughts and feelings and feel pretty isolated and alone. Another negative effect is the lack of family time that happens because of our digital society. When we have so many activities that we can do online, sometimes we sacrifice real activities with family. 

So, I've noticed that families who spend a lot of their energy communicating with each other online with text and otherwise, oftentimes don't end up with as many family activity times. So, let's not sacrifice the better for the good, right? Another negative is that family isn't prioritized. So, texting someone, checking some of these posts, making sure that you put a little thumbs up or heart next to something is just something on the to-do list to keep up with family relationships

Now, this is a negative that most people definitely wouldn't consider but I see it. When a family is connected through digital devices and social media but not as much in person, it can eliminate family roles which means that each person starts thinking of themselves as completely equal to each other. 

If the children are like, "No, this is what I'm doing." And the parents are like, "No, I don't think it's a good idea." But there really isn't that time where the parent does the parent thing and the child is the child thing where the child learns and the parent teaches. Where the parent corrects the things that need to be corrected. Corrections just don't happen well on social media. 

In fact, probably not at all. And they really don't work well through text even though that would probably be better than social media. And if parents aren't correcting their children or praising their children which quite frankly the thumbs up in the heart isn't a good enough praise. It needs to be more meaningful than that. 

When you praise someone well, you tell them exactly what they did do that was great and help them make plans for good things in the future. Parents need to connect with their children look into their children's eyes to maintain their roles as their parent authorities. And those roles bring a lot of security to the family so don't forget that. 

So, this leads me to a lack of eye contact. Another negative to having your relationships happen digitally is you don't get the eye contact that is so vital for that connection in your relationships. When your children can see into your eyes, they can feel your love for them even if you're telling them that something needs to change. 

A text, they can read into it any attitude, personality, or emotion that they are feeling or that they want to think you are feeling at the time. It's really bad for relationships. Overall, I would say that there's no going back. There's no way we're not going to have cellphones. 

There's no way we're not going to have social media in the future. It's part of the staple of life now. But we can be wiser about how we use these things. I hope you're inspired to make a few adjustments. Even if you just say, "I will check my social media and my messages during this timeframe and during this timeframe. But the rest of the time, I will be present for the family", that would be huge for your family. 

It would strengthen your relationship so much. It would allow you to maintain your role and to teach your children more. You need to have a good relationship with your children to teach things to them that you know that they'll need for future success.

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