Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and other social media apps are a large part of society’s everyday life. As technology grows, people have become more attached to their phones and it has become easier to communicate via smart phones through apps such as Whatsapp and other social media apps. As a result of this, there is a lack of face to face contact. Access to communicate rapidly through a device has captivated people and this has shifted our conversations from ‘face-to-face’ to via a screen’ communication.
Social media should be used as a tool to compliment relationships that are face to face, not to be used as a main source of communication. Excessive screen time can break down confidence, self esteem, avoidance of meeting and speaking to people which can then impact the individual in their relationships, occupation as well as socially.
Commonly people suffering with social anxiety disorder engage in ‘avoidant’ and ‘safety’ behaviours. Some examples are avoiding picking up the telephone to speak to someone whether that be a friend, chasing a job application, or making a restaurant booking. This could be due to the fear of being judge, thinking they cannot articulate themselves.
- Schedule time in a day that is used for social media. For example, you may give yourself 30 minutes a day and using your calendar, break up the 30 minutes throughout the day. Refrain from checking in outside of your scheduled times. This will ensure you remain accountable for time spent online and encourage traditional communication method
- Leave your phone behind. Leave your phone in your bag during lectures, at your desk if attending a meeting or presentation. This will make it easy to engage without disruption. When it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind.
- Spend a day technology free. Decide on a day with the whole family that phones, tablets and laptops are off – challenge yourselves to engage and spend more time together for that day. Make this a rule for the whole family.
- Pick up the phone for its intended use. Call the person instead of texting, speak, hear their tone of voice and simplify conversations through a phone call opposed to texting. Pick as and when you need to use your phone rather than wasting time away on social media, texting back and forth. It cannot be denied that social media has been helpful in connecting us with others. We also can’t deny the impact on our social skills, making us lazy communicators and disrupting our need for meaningful conversation.
However, by trying some of these steps today, you can shift your focus to genuine conversations, build new connections, confidence and becoming more personal by having intentional face –to-face conversations.