UAE Residents Say Social Media Affects Relationships: Survey

Social MediaSocial media gives us the freedom to communicate with our loved ones, whenever and wherever we want. However, this freedom comes at a cost, according to a new research from Kaspersky Lab. The research revealed that a third of people communicate less face-to-face with their loved ones and more digitally. 11 percent of parents in the UAE admit that relationships with their children have been damaged as a result of them being seen in a compromising situation on social media.

The research goes on to state that with people’s tendency to post provocative pictures and content in order to get more ‘likes’, social media can damage offline relationships. It also says that while one would expect parents not to approve of their children’s online behavior, it is often the other way round. More than a fifth of parents admit that their relationship with their children worsened after they had seen their parents in embarrassing circumstances on social media. In contrast, only 6 percent of parents in the UAE said they were annoyed by their children’s online behavior. In addition, 9 percent of UAE residents also said that their relationship with their spouse or partner has been damaged as a result of them being seen in an inappropriate situation on social media.

Relationships with family, friends and colleagues are changing as people communicate less face-to-face as a result of social media. A significant number of people in the country admitted that they now communicate less in person- 36 percent have reduced face to face communication with their parents, 37 percent with their children, 22 percent with their partners, and 48 percent said that in person contact with their friends has reduced because they can see and communicate with them via social media.

Although people communicate less face-to-face, around half of respondents believe that the quality of their relationships does not suffer at all and is even better as a result of being connected with their loved ones online. Dr. Astrid Carolus, Media Psychologist at the University of Würzburg warns that although it seems that the quality of relationships is improving, people cannot always evaluate their online communication objectively. She said, “Under certain circumstances they perceive their online communication as “hyper-personal communication” and thus they can misread and over-interpret the messages on social media. We feel especially close; we blind out the rather negative, focus on the possible positive intentions behind a message, and over-interpret.”

With the study finding that although social media can help ease communication channels and bridge time zones and distance barriers, it doesn’t always make people happy. It can strain relationships as well as leaving people feeling down and upset, as they constantly compare their lives to those of others. The hunt for ‘likes’ and social validation leads people to share increasing amounts of private information on social media platforms, putting not only themselves but also their friends, family and colleagues at risk.

For those who decide to shut themselves off from social media, the reality of losing a lifetime of digital memories, including photos and interactions, can make it difficult to do.

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