Psychologist: Social Media Causing A ‘Distancing Phenomena’ To Take Place

Photo credit:CBS DC

Social media has certainly become a an integral part of many people’s daily lives. But especially for those who spend a lot of time online, how does it affect their ability to interact and communicate with others when they find themselves face-to-face?

Psychology professor Krystine Batcho, of Lemoyne College sees both the upside and downside. “Overall we’ve benefited greatly from social media as a society,” she told WNEW in Washington DC. “But I think there are a lot of fears of what’s happening, that we’ve made interactions with other people too impersonal and a distancing phenomena is taking place.” She is particularly concerned that children may not be properly developing essential social skills.

Batcho also points out that how we act on the Internet may be different from how we would behave in person. She uses cyber-bullying as an example: “Studies suggest that it takes place in a more extreme way over social media because the authors feel no responsibility.” She explains that it can be easier to bully someone if you don’t have to look them in the eye–that some online bullies might think twice before doing it in-person, especially if they thought “authority figures” would catch them in the act.

While you may derive a lot of good from social media, Batcho acknowledges that for some it can have a negative impact: “There’s no doubt that when social media is used in place of real connections, that it can mentally cause a number of things to happen to them. Many people are talking about an addiction to social media and that people have become dependent on it. It has brought on anxiety and has made some people feel nervous or worried when they can’t access it.”

How has social media changed your life? Do you feel like your relationships with the people who matter in your life are better because of it, or do you find yourself spending so much time online that it’s at the expense of having quality time with family & friends?

CBS DC, 4/16/14

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