By: Frank Kieffer, MS, NCC, Licensed Professional Counselor
Holy Redeemer Counseling Center
Every day we are inundated with social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. All with the purpose or goal of connecting us to others.
But are we really connecting to others in meaningful ways?
It is true that social media allows us to communicate with friends and family no matter where they are almost anytime. However, communication on social media is just that, basic communication. Social media often lacks the “human” connection of actual contact and interaction. Also, most social media friends are not true friends in the sense that they are there to help us when we move into a new home, go out socially or provide us with that actual “shoulder to cry on” in times of true need when the presence of others is comforting and reassuring.
Why is this important?
Research has repeatedly demonstrated that true social connections have a protective value and are essential to our psychological well-being. Social support has been found to aid in recovery from injury, be a preventive factor for most forms of mental illness and enhance general quality of life. While a lack of true social support is a risk factor for many serious problems such as depression or anxiety and can lead to feelings of loneliness and social isolation.
Therefore, it would be helpful to develop a filter for social media and create a balance in our lives between online relationships and real, in-person social connections.
Here are some tips for developing a healthy balance between social media and true social connections:
- Set limits! Limit the amount of time spent per day on social media.
- Establish a balance between time spent in real social interactions and interactions on social media.
- Turn off electronic devices during meals and events. Don’t check Facebook during meals or take pictures to post online. Be in the moment with friends and family.
- Establish a goal to increase time spent involved in face-to-face interactions such as by getting coffee with a friend or having lunch with a co-worker.
Most importantly, be aware that if you are having trouble disconnecting from social media, this could be a sign of an internet or technology addiction. Internet and technology addictions have become an area of growing research due to the explosion of new and easily accessible technology.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may want to seek advice and support from a professional counselor:
- Spend excessive time involved in social media
- Preoccupation with social media
- Difficulty reducing time spent involved in social media
- Missing meaningful or important tasks due to time spent online
- Adverse feelings when not involved or checking social media
- Seeking escape through online activities
If you or someone you know is experiencing these difficulties, speaking with a professional and empathetic counselor may be beneficial. Given the possible loss of actual connections or true relationships and the danger of addiction to social media, developing a social filter can be a healthy lifestyle choice to enhance psychological well-being. The Holy Redeemer Counseling Center is here for you. Our team includes certified and licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed professional counselors, licensed psychologists and licensed clinical social workers.
To learn more about the Holy Redeemer Counseling Center, visit our Webpage or call 215-914-4190.