By: Elizabeth Bischoff
Technology is changing so rapidly in today’s society that one can barely keep track of the latest iPhone, trending social media sites, or improvements made on the newest XBOX gaming system. In the midst of all the hype, it’s easy to miss the behavioral changes caused by man’s own design. Could the new technology that we hold so dear be causing relationships and marriages to fail? Recent studies suggest yes.
According to Womanitely, an online life guide for modern women, some of the harmful side effects of technology include: online flirting, declines in health, disrupted sleep patterns, and over-sharing through social media. In addition, many are becoming addicted to pornography, video games, and their phones.
Similarly, in a recent study, Joy Goodman-Deane and her associates investigated how technology use interferes with relationships. Their findings did more than simply show that technology can negatively impact relationships, Goodman and her colleagues explain why. As it turns out, a constant focus on technology can create a scenario in which your partner is more likely to become depressed. Constantly being on your phone can cause your partner to feel ignored or rejected, creating feelings of loneliness quite similar to being shunned.
An article published by ABC News delved deeper into the issue of social media how it affects marriage. The news station reported that Facebook does indeed play a role in hurting relationships and even increases the chances of divorce if used unwisely. According to the article, one third of divorce filings in 2011 contained the word “Facebook” and 80 percent of U.S. divorce attorneys agree that social networking in divorce procedures is on the rise. By 2011 divorces stemming from improper social media conduct had risen 33 percent.
If something so helpful and essential these days can also cause such harm, what is to be done? We suggest the following ground rules for managing our machinery:
Rule #1: No technology at the dinner table. This includes restaurants. Put phones away, turn off the television, and enjoy some good quality time together. Talk, face to face, about your day, your goals, your relationship, or your children—texting is no substitute for real, intimate conversation.
Rule #2: Make your bedroom an electronic-free zone. Now this doesn’t mean getting rid of your alarm clock, but refrain from being on your cell phone, watching television, or spending time on the computer within these four walls. Make the bedroom a place where pillow talk can naturally occur, where love can be expressed, and where a good night’s sleep won’t be disturbed by electrical glow.
Rule #3: Make time for physical contact. Technology can create a false sense of closeness, but text messages, email, and video chat cannot replace our need for physical communication. Hold hands with one another, kiss, and cuddle; get close with another and take the time to keep the flame going.
Rule #4: Unplug. Take an occasional break from technology, whether for an evening or an entire weekend, and reconnect emotionally, physically, and spiritually with your spouse. Taking time to unplug is especially important during more serious discussions, disagreements, or planning with your spouse. Technology can be a distraction, causing our loved ones to feel dismissed or unheard. Actively listening shows that you value them and their ideas.
Rule #5: Set family ground rules. Whether it’s having the computer in a public area of the house, putting up firewalls, or discussing appropriate conduct on social media, ensuring that each of you understands what the other expects is essential to reaping the benefits of technology wile minimizing danger.
Technology can bless our lives, connect us with loved ones who live far away, and simplify our daily tasks. Though there are dangers that lurk within these advances, we can circumvent these threats by making a few adjustments. By putting our marriages first and implementing some ground rules, we can enjoy electronics and still see our relationships flourish.
 Goodman-Deane, J., Mieczakowski, A., Johnson, D., Goldhaber, T., & Clarkson, P. J.
(2016). The impact of communication technologies on life and relationship satisfaction.