Category Archives: Social media

Social Media and Stress: It is the social uses of digital technologies, and the way they increase awareness of distressing events in others’ lives that explains how the use of social media can result in users feeling more stress

Married couples are using the internet and mobile technology to communicate with one another, to keep up-to-date with information and news about others. Combined with the ease of access to these communication mediums and their instant and constant influence over couple relationships, its presence and impact cannot be underestimated or ignored.

Whilst most of the qualities that help sustain a good relationship have not changed – commitment, effective communication, constructive conflict and patience, honesty and forgiveness amongst others – there is strong evidence that couples are using these technologies to enhance their relationships. Both the opportunities and threats associated with the use of internet and mobile technologies by couples and the use of them must be understood and considered to ensure programs are relevant and meaningful to meet the evolving needs of couples in all their life stages.

For generations, commentators have worried about the impact of technology on people’s stress. Trains and industrial machinery were seen as noisy disruptors of pastoral village life that put people on edge. Telephones interrupted quiet times in homes. Watches and clocks added to the de-humanizing time pressures on factory workers to be productive. Radio and television were organized around the advertising that enabled modern consumer culture and heightened people’s status anxieties.

Inevitably, the critics have shifted their focus onto digital technology. There has been considerable commentary about whether internet use in general and social media use in particular are related to higher levels of stress.

Such analysts often suggest that it is the heaviest users of these technologies that are most at risk. Critics fear that these technologies take over people’s lives, creating time pressures that put people at risk for the negative physical and psychological health effects that can result from stress.

Interestingly, US studies reveal that the frequency of internet and social media use has no direct relationship to stress in men. For women, the use of some technologies is tied to lower stress.

The survey analysis produced two major findings that illustrate the complex interplay of digital technology and stress:

  1. Overall, frequent internet and social media users do not have higher levels of stress. In fact, for women, the opposite is true for at least some digital technologies. Holding other factors constant, women who use Twitter, email and mobile picture sharing report lower levels of stress.
  2. At the same time, the data show there are circumstances under which the social use of digital technology increases awareness of stressful events in the lives of others. Especially for women, this greater awareness is tied to higher levels of stress and it has been called “the cost of caring.” Those users who feel more stress are those whose use of digital tech is tied to higher levels of awareness of stressful events in others’ lives. This finding about “the cost of caring” adds to the evidence that stress is contagious.

Studies have shown that the widespread use of the internet and related digital technologies is not responsible for higher levels of psychological stress. Stress is not associated with the frequency of people’s technology use, or even how many friends users have on social media platforms. For women particularly, the use of some technologies is tied to lower stress.


      Tune in for part 3 next week – Wedding planning and stress levels.

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        Social media and the impact on relationships

        Social media has many benefits for an effective society but there are also areas to watch out for. The continued stream of information in social networks can be entertaining and can provide a healthy distraction from the daily grind. It can however also distract us from the attention of out loved ones.

        The ability to be constantly online via the internet on a mobile device can enhance productivity however it can also impact our relationships due to the continued pervasiveness of communication outside of normal working hours. Additionally the anxiety created if messages are left unread for a period of time can create unease for the diligent employee.

        What barriers can I implement to protect my relationship from the perils of Social Media use in my relationship?

        Get in the habit of turning off the T.V. and other devices (i.e. your mobile phone) and spend time with each other daily. No distractions. Turn off your mobile, switch off for at Least 2 hours when you get home from work or when you have allocated time with your partner, this will really impress them.

        One very easy approach is to put your phone (and theirs) in a shoebox when you walk in the door. Inform your colleagues that you are unavailable during these times (i.e. Mealtimes or agreed allocated times or weekends) and let the calls go through to voicemail. Emails: same story, reply to them after the allocated time has finished.

        Treasure time with your partner and switch off regularly.

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        Social Media and Effective Barriers for your relationship

        With over 62% of Australian internet users on social sites such as Facebook and Twitter and average usage at >6hrs/month on social sites and rising (53% women and 47% men), there is little wonder that social usage will be a problem for some relationships.

        Whilst various surveys* suggest that social media use enhances intimate relationships and connection with the community (78% say it helps maintain relationships with friends & family), 95% are worried about online privacy and 87% as to the amount of time their partner is online.

        Even more alarmingly in the US, Facebook is cited in 1 in 5 divorces and in the UK, 1 in 8 partners claim they use their phone more than talking to them.

        Social media has many benefits for an effective society but there are also areas to watch out for.

        What barriers can I implement to protect my relationship from the perils of Social Media use in my relationship?

        Here are a few tips:
        1. Do a self assessment on why you are using online sites;
        2. Do you spend more time talking to the opposite sex or particular individuals?
        3. Spell out your expectations with others when online;
        4. Do not engage in intimate conversations with someone other than your partner;
        5. Share passwords;
        6. Set parameters around how much time and when you are online.

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        *2011 Relationships Indicators Survey is a joint initiative of Relationships Australia and CUA
        based on data collected, analysed and reported by Woolcott Research.