New Study Shows Impact of Technology on Relationships

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Need to Know from SafeWise
  • Nearly 9 in 10 Americans wish they had more quality time with their partner.
  • Many Americans consider sending texts and taking naps together as quality time. 
  • Over half of all Americans say the only tie they have to spend with their partner is through texting.
  • 7 in 10 Americans wish they had more quality time with their kids.

Technology is an integral part of our lives, shaping how we connect with others and spend our free time. A recent study conducted by Mixbook sheds light on the impact of technology on personal relationships—revealing some startling statistics about the role of social media in our lives.¹

African American couple sitting on sofa with phones facing away from each other in living room at home.

Image: Valerii Apetroaiei, iStock

Insights from the study

According to the study, more than six in ten Americans admit to sending social media posts to their partners more frequently than engaging in physical intimacy during an average week. Moreover, many respondents consider digital interactions as "quality time" spent together. Here's a look at some of the findings:

  • One in three Americans believes sharing social media posts while in the same room with their partner qualifies as quality time together.
  • One in five Americans thinks that merely being in the same room with their partner, both on their phones and not talking, still counts as quality time.
  • A substantial 40% of Americans view texting someone throughout the day as a form of quality time spent together.

These statistics highlight the growing influence of technology on our relationships, where virtual interactions are increasingly replacing traditional forms of bonding.

Social media and mental health

In addition to the Mixbook study, investigations by The Wall Street Journal raised concerns about the impact of social media on mental health. It was revealed that Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, was aware of the negative mental health effects associated with its platforms but kept this information hidden. Internal research indicated that Instagram worsened body image issues for one in three teenage girls, and all teenage users reported experiences of anxiety and depression linked to the app.

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Surgeon General advisory about social media and youth mental health

In June, the U.S. Surgeon General issued an advisory that "social media can also pose a risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents. Social media use by young people is nearly universal, with up to 95% of young people ages 13–17 reporting using a social media platform, and more than a third saying they use social media 'almost constantly.' "

Social media platforms, like TikTok and Instagram, have been identified as potential avenues for cyberbullying and have even been linked to dangerous and antisocial behavior, including incidents of school vandalism. As more people use social media, concerns over its impact on individual and collective well-being have become more pronounced.

How to combat the risks of too much tech

Unfortunately, we're at the point where it doesn't sound weird to say we have a "relationship" with social media. But, as with all relationships, there are ways to set healthy boundaries to keep it light and breezy instead of all-consuming.

  • Set a timer to limit how long you fall down that TikTok or Reels rabbit hole.
  • Take breaks if you notice time on social media negatively impacts mood, self-esteem, or behavior.
  • Turn off notifications so you're not constantly pulled back into the platform.
  • Make in-person interactions a priority. Find a hobby, schedule a date night, or enlist a friend for daily walks. Anything that gives you regular time with people outside the smartphone.
  • If you have teens, check in with them regularly about their online experiences. Engage with what they like about it and create openings for them to share anything concerning.

While technology and social media have revolutionized how we connect with others, it's crucial to strike a balance and be mindful of social media's impact on our mental health and relationships. Finding healthier online habits and making time for genuine, face-to-face connections remains essential for our overall well-being.

Sources

  1. Mixbook, "How Much Quality Time People Actually Spend Together." September 26, 2023. Accessed November 9, 2023.
Rebecca Edwards
Written by
Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past decade. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month poring over crime and safety reports and spotting trends. Her expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her expert advice and analysis in places like NPR, TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, HGTV, MSN, Reader's Digest, Real Simple, and an ever-growing library of podcast, radio and TV clips in the US and abroad.

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