Believe it or not, our culture has been influenced by social media, whether it's from advertising, peer pressure or information. Some people invest a lot of energy into their status or, what they want others to think of them. Others just feel safer interacting online rather than in person.
Next time you go into a restaurant, look around. Chances are good that people will be sitting around a table and looking at a device. FGCU professor, Dr. Gina Tran, says, "We just need to put the devices away when it's time to interact with each other. To be there, to be present in real life rather than having a group with you physically but interacting with other people on social media through your phone. It's become very easy to be rude, but we shouldn't just because it's easy."
Lee Health psychologist, Dr. Sabo, agrees that a mobile device can make life easier. However, it could also be more dangerous, especially when it comes to kids. He says, "It makes things a little bit easier today but tomorrow exponentially difficult, so if we don't set those good boundaries, we see these kids who really struggle when they don't have those electronic devices. They don't know what to do with themselves and they're bored all the time. They don't have the skills to self soothe. They don't have the skills to figure out, 'How do I handle this feeling? How do I handle not having something to do because it's more of a mental process that an actual physical.' "
Dr. Sabo says the more time you spend on the phone, the less time you're physically interacting with somebody else. He stresses the importance to learn how to deal with social interactions that are non-verbal. He says, "When we're online, when we're texting, when we're viewing things and it's just getting information in, and not really seeing how our words affects somebody else, these words can damage or hurt people."
Once down the rabbit hole of mobile devices, families may find it difficult to turn away. Dr. Sabo suggests taking small steps, starting with meal time. "Sitting around the dinner table for 20 minutes. It's amazing what families can actually learn about their kids. It's incredible what information they can gain from those interactions. In the car, being able to talk in the car instead of being continuously connected to these mobile devices. So, I also think it's important setting time not to have those devices on, turning it off at a certain time." Dr. Sabo says that "off time" should be well before bedtime. He says if you stay up at night on your mobile device, you might wake up a little more irritable, which would then set yourself up for more problems the next day.