Are family relationships influenced by social media?

Processes and interactions in which the family members are involved to meet their needs, make decisions, define goals, and establish rules for themselves and for the family as a whole are known as family functioning. The family's ability to function properly is based on the levels of openness in communications and the healthiness in interactions, which subsequently bring positive effects at family members.

In families with adolescent children, open communication among family members is of high importance in order to manage stressors and negotiate adolescents’ individuation. Moreover, it helps adolescents to talk about their daily concerns or issues, and in turn, parents can be supportive of them.


Family collective efficacy is members’ beliefs in the capabilities of their family to work together for promoting each other’s development and well-being, maintaining beneficial ties to extrafamilial systems, and for exhibiting resilience to adversity (Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019). Higher family satisfaction, open communication, effective parental monitoring, and lower aggressive management of conflicts and communication problems, are found to be associated with higher collective family efficiency.


However, social media use has created richer and more complex patterns of interactions in family life. Social media use can specifically be a central issue for families facing adolescence evolutionary tasks. It is evident that the information and communication technologies (ICTs) are profoundly changing the ways in which people behave and relate to each other and creating conflicting perceptions about their impact.


Information and communication technologies use can provide positive results in terms of family cohesion, adaptability, and open communications. Therefore, it can have a positive impact on family relationships by allowing family members to keep in touch, make plans in real-time and ensure children’s safety as they allow communications in emergency situations. Moreover, it can strengthen family ties, encourage parent-child interactions, and promote as well as facilitate discussions.


However, there exists a risk arising from the lack of modulation and negotiation about social media and mobile devices use which could impact family relationships and dynamics. For example, ignoring someone in a social environment by paying attention to mobile devices or interrupting a meal while eating together to check the phone for messages or missed calls, can impact the family relationships and cause conflicts within the family.


The role of the parents’ perceptions about the impact of social media on family systems, whether positive or negative, can exert in the relationship between their perceived collective family efficacy and open communication among family members. For example, parents, who are more worried about social media impacts, can exert greater control over their children’s use, whereas, adolescents can get the perception of being hyper-controlled by their parents. Therefore, the level of conflict and aggressive communication can increase inside the family.

Source: Families and Social Media Use: The Role of Parents’ Perceptions about Social Media Impact on Family Systems in the Relationship between Family Collective Efficacy and Open Communication
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019
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