Nearly 2.5 billion people worldwide use social media, online statistics portal Statista estimated in July. Within the United States, adults consume more than 10 hours of internet content per day (Howard, 2016). This includes activities such as browsing through sites, interacting with online users, sharing opinions or commenting, liking or uploading content. An excessive amount of time spent online can become problematic. For instance, researchers have found that the excessive usage of Facebook may promote feelings of romantic jealousy and dissatisfaction in relationships (Elphinston & Noller, 2011). Excessive Facebook usage has been linked to negative relationship outcomes including infidelity, divorce or breakup of interpersonal relationships (Clayton, Nagurney & Smith, 2013). Facebook is believed to foster behaviors that can increase the probability of infidelity when certain behaviors become present, such as flirting or sharing of information that can lead to developing emotionally intimate connections (Abbasi & Alghamdi, 2017).
The ease of available information on the internet has made it easy to “friend” new people or “reconnect” with people from the past on a social networking site (SNS). These new or renewed online friendship communications, while at times exciting and novel, may become problematic and detrimental to a relationship when proper healthy boundaries are not set or when they are crossed. Too much time online can be problematic, but also what we do while online (our behaviors) and who we choose to connect with are important. Spending too much time in front of a computer screen or cellphone fosters physical and emotional unavailability to our loved ones, despite the fact that we may feel a false sense of connection to the online world. This increased distraction creates a disconnection to our daily surroundings and those around us. Ask yourself the following questions:
1. Are you spending too much time on an SNS?
2. Are you checking the SNS on your cellphone or computer too much?
3. Is your use of the SNS taking away from the quality time you could be spending with your loved ones?
4. Is the use of the SNS causing problems in your relationship (e.g., jealousy or trust)?
If you can relate to any of these or similar situations and think that a confidential consultation or a counseling appointment to address this issue might be helpful, please feel free to contact Psychological Services Bureau at (213) 738-3500.
(2017) Number of social media users worldwide
from 2010 to 2021. Statista. https://www.statista.com
Abbasi, S. I. & Alghamdi, N.G. (2017). When flirting turns into infidelity: The Facebook dilemma. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 45(1), 1-14.
Clayton, R.B., Nagurney, Al., & Smith, J.R. (2013). Cheating, Breakup, and Divorce: Is Facebook Use to Blame? Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 16(10), 1-5.
Elphinston, R.A., & Noller, P. (2011). Time to face it! Facebook intrusion and the implications for romantic jealousy and relationship satisfaction. Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, 14(11), 631-635.
Howard, J. (2016). Americans devote more than 10 hours a day to screen time, and growing. CNN. www.cnn.com/2016/06/30/health/americans-screen-time-nielsen. I