In an age of excessive social media usage, courtesy of apps and services like Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, it’s a common perception that it negatively impacts human connections in the real world. Many psychological and social behavioural studies such as this seem to suggest the same as well. And it also appears to be among the most searched queries on Google.
What it means is there are people who may be concerned about the rise in social media consumption and its impact on their personal relations outside of it. Or they themselves may be experiencing some kind of disconnect with friends or family members due to their social media habits. Whatever the case may be, the point seems valid enough to raise concerns about or discuss if social media actually kills personal relationships.
A recent study conducted by Jeffrey A. Hall along with Michael W. Kearney and Chong Xing from the University of Kansas, US claims social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter are not affecting face-to-face contact with friends. For the study, the researchers decided to perform two experiments.
First, the researchers went to compare data obtained from American youth during 2009 and 2011 and see whether there was any kind of decline in terms of their interpersonal contact. If found, it could have been in correspondence with the rise of social media usage. But interestingly, the researchers could not find any such evidence.
In fact, the researchers further went to explain that social media had no influence on users’ direct social interactions with people outside of their virtual world, which involved “getting out of one’s house, visiting friends, talking on the phone and attending meetings of groups and organisations (apart from religious groups).”
The second experiment was performed on 116 people recruited specifically for the research. The researchers sent them a text five times a day for five consecutive days, asking them each time on the subject of their social media usage as well as direct social contacts in the past 10 minutes.
The researchers again found that their social media usage had absolutely nothing to do with who they were talking to later that day irrespective of the medium of communication.
So the days of blaming social media for the lack of initiative on your part to step out and meet friends and relatives may be numbered. Of course, a new research will pop up in no time that will state the opposite. But the fact remains that irrespective of whether your online habits affect your offline social skills, they are your habits at the end of the day and you have a choice to change them.