In light of the revelations that personal data is being shared with large organizations, people around the world are rethinking their social media footprint.
We sat down with licensed psychologist , Dr. Dara Bushman, to discuss the impact that Facebook and other social sites have on our lives.
Dr. Dara Bushman: I keep thinking how the over stimulation of technology and social media has decreased our ability to be present and focus on one thing at a time. We are being programmed to multitask. It is almost as we are programming ourselves to have difficulties with attention. It has contributed to the difficulties for our brain to be able to write things out and use cursive if it is an acquired skill we have. Social media has caused a disconnect with eye connect and difficulties to focus.
What does social media say about us as a civilization?
Dr. Dara Bushman: It says that connection and communication are not as important because as we don’t make eye contact or discuss things of importance in person. We are connecting through text and electronics with a removal of human touch and emotion. Social media has painted an unrealistic perception of what is going on for people.
As a civilization, it is maturing our children before their time. The implication of Social media is saying we do not have the same family values and priorities. Unfortunately, a picture of a family sitting at the table eating dinner while texting has replaced a family with eye contact with conversation and laughter.
What are the positive aspects of social media?
Dr. Dara Bushman: Social media allows people to communicate with a wider band of contacts. It allows people to re-connect form the past and follow status in masses in the future.
What are the negative aspects?
Dr. Dara Bushman: We are on a 24 hour media cycles. Social media is events and stimulus with no definitive end. We used to watch the news and then return to a task. Social media is all encompassing and non-stop. Individuals are exposed and vulnerable as they portray all aspects of their life on social media.
Social media is demonstrating uncensored violence and adult content continuously. There is repetitious stimulation of negative content and emotion. Inappropriate content such as violence and acts around sexual misconduct are being portrayed as normal and common. Our bar of unacceptable principles has lowered.
Social media applications on phones are stimulating with subliminal undertones and message increasing anxiety. Due to social media there is a loss of comprehension and reading skills along with our most primitive and useful skill- writing. Children are no longer taught cursive, but how to operate technology. People are being stripped of their creativity and imagination as social media creates it for us.
Should people be worried?
Dr. Dara Bushman: YES, VERY.
Why are people obsessed?
Dr. Dara Bushman: The obsession is at a physical and emotional level. Physically people are trying to keep up with the “Joneses” and fit into our warped societal norms. Emotionally there is an obsession created with the unconscious and subconscious ques of the programming of social media. It lures on our senses and stimulates our comfort points in our brain.
As a psychologist—what impact has social media (Facebook) had on your patients?
Dr. Dara Bushman: Social media has given people a skewed vision of “happy” life with people portraying themselves with only the positive things going on in their life. Over past decades, it was referred to as people comparing their lives to black and white television sitcoms of “the perfect life”, like the Donna Reed Show.
What does Facebook say about us as individuals? (i.e.) Birthday Wishes, Photos of trips, Political Views
Dr. Dara Bushman: People are losing intimate connection and personal contact. We share our affairs in masses. Birthday wishes via Facebook have replaced thoughtful connections and sentimental birthday cards. Political views are being exploited and misconstrued.
Do you know people who have given up Facebook?
Dr. Dara Bushman: Yes. It is a difficult choice to veer from societal norms. I believe there are very few that have no set ups with social media. I do believe there are possible ways to moderate social media. In today’s culture social media status and involvement is used to leverage and build business connections. Its functionality hard to resist and be a part of professionally and personally.
What advice can you give parents with young children?
Dr. Dara Bushman: Stay close to your family’s beliefs, values, and rituals. Prioritize communication. If you are going to allow social media, moderate it. Create guidelines that can be consistent and successful to monitor and adhere.
It is not realistic to eliminate social media. It is recommended parents review what their children are seeing and watching. Ask them how they feel about topics and for their input. Explain things to them at a level of understanding for their age and maturity. Keep your children involved in other activities away from technology and social media. Keep them involved in extra-curricular activities and hobbies. Work with them to structure their time. Give attention and reward children when their attention and energy is in areas you find of value. Communicate, connect, discuss….and HUG!
If you have questions for Dr. Dara you can send them to us, or directly to Dr. Dara: