Experts believe even though social media has a lot of positives in connecting people, becoming highly dependant on social media can have negative effects.
Dr Rima Sabban, assistant professor of sociology at Zayed University said though social media can create amazing opportunities for people to connect, people’s high dependence on social media platforms can cause them to start unlearning their social skills.
“Social media has created a revolution in human relationships. It opened up places of availability and has created amazing opportunities for communication. However they are new to humanity and so can be misused.”
Dr Rima said if people become highly dependent on social media they can unlearn skills needed in physical social situations.
“We are witnessing the generations that were brought up spending time with family, visiting neighbours and being taught the importance of being sociable; unlearn their skills after becoming dependent on communicating with friends and family on social media. If this is the case with the older generation, it is even worse for children aged 13 and 14, who were never brought up with these sociable skills.”
She gave an example by saying: “Before if a friend was facing a problem, you would cry together and hug each other, now you would console her on WhatsApp. This change is scary and it is happening too fast. ”
Dr Rima believes that this dependence in social media is going to continue to grow in the future, however she does not believe that people should fight it.
“I don’t believe in going backwards, because in every moment in history when people tried to go backwards it failed and caused misery, for example look what is happening with the extreme religious groups now.”
Instead Dr Rima believes that people should move forwards but with awareness. “People should be aware of the negative effects that it can cause and minimize exposure to these social media platforms.
Dr. Saliha Afridi, Clinical Psychologist/ Managing Director of the LightHouse Arabia said though social media has a lot of positives; it can cause relationships to lack depth.
“This is the case for those who rely only on social media to stay in touch. It creates false illusions of being close. Just because you know something about someone does not mean you have ‘shared’ that experience with them.”
Dr Saliha said for the younger generation who are growing up with social being ever present, it has not allowed them to realize the blood, sweat, and tears that go into real relationships.
“They believe that friends can be made with a click of a button and deleted just as easily. Real relationships take a lot of effort and many ruptures and repairs,the young generation doesn’t seem to be familiar with these aspects of authentic relationships.”
She said it can also cause people to become more concentrated on showing themselves and constantly thinking about what to post, how to post, and how many likes will they receive.
“Our minds are always preoccupied with checking one of the social media outlets. It is creating individuals who miss out on the present moment, simply because they are viewing it from a screen and wanting to display it. The feeling of experiencing something fully is very different from wanting to capture it and sharing it with the whole social network.”
Dr Saliha believes that there is a dependency on social media to relate to friends and family Individuals are relating in a ‘mass market’ sort-of way by posting a picture or updating their status to communicate to the whole network in one click, making it very efficient but also devoid of human touch.. Making phone calls, or even writing e-mails seems like its a thing of the past.