This is the age of multiple connections. Desktops, Laptops, Smart phones, tablets, smart watches and our obsession with social media is keeping us in a constant and continual state of connectivity. Australians now spend more than 10 hours a day on internet connected devices.
The Ernst and Young 2016 ‘Digital Report’ found twenty five per cent of people surveyed said they spent more time on their smart phones than talking to family, friends and partners.
It’s a brave new world and there’s no denying the home front and our personal lives are also becoming more digital. So as we navigate this twenty first century reality and all the connectivity it entails, here’s a road map to keeping your relationships real.
DON’T REPLACE A REAL CONVERSATION WITH A VIRTUAL ONE.
Forty per cent of the 1500 people surveyed in the 2016 ‘Digital Report’ confessed they prefer to conduct transactions over the internet rather than face to face. A sentiment that is often the easier option when time poor and dealing with our primary relationships.
However there is no replacing the real thing, according to Relationships Australia NSW Practice leader David Roberts. “At the end of the day we are fully embodied beings. Touch, smell, a sense of presence are all important and really these are not available via the internet.
A full relationship needs all of these things and this is really only achievable face to face. From the old days of having pen friends to contemporary times of internet dating or keeping in touch via social media – however good or useful these things are, we must always remember that they are not the same as face to face and while they may fill a short term need, they can never fully replace a face to face relationship.”
RESIST THE URGE TO READ YOUR PARTNERS EMAILS AND FACEBOOK MESSAGES.
It’s no secret that many people go through their partner’s emails, texts and social media messages. A recent UK study showed more than 41 percent of couples have snooped through their partners’ phone or emails at one point or another. Some have had their suspicions validated, others have only proved to themselves there are trust issues at play that need addressing in the relationship.
Relationships Australia NSW’s Elisabeth Shaw says that snooping is a violation of trust and while you may be accusing your partner of being sneaky, your actions in doing this are deceitful. “Talk to your partner if you have concerns. An honest and open dialogue can save you from behaviour that indicates a lack of trust.”
PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY AT THE TABLE
You don’t have to be an etiquette expert to observe how impolite it is to sit with your phone on the table and check emails when you’re with company. If you’re expecting an urgent text or email, turn your phone off until the time it is expected and then excuse yourself for a few minutes.
When you’re with children at the table, see your behaviour through their eyes and imagine how disconnected a conversation feels when mum or dad is checking their Facebook status while asking them about their day.
It’s important to always give your full attention when engaging and leave absent minded conversations to the social media ones, where there are no faces on the other side.
BE PRESENT IN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
You’re finally home from work, university or school and instead of engaging with your partner, one of you keeps checking their phone throughout the night. Not a great way to spend quality time together but not an uncommon reality.
A 2014 Pew Research poll found
- 1 in 4 mobile users found their partner too distracted by their mobile phone.
- 1 in 10 had arguments with their partner about the excessive use of their mobile phone.
According to Relationships Australia NSW’s David Roberts it’s all about ‘Balance’ and if we can find ways to balance our online and offline world’s, we are on our way to communicating better in our real relationships.
Technology can be an amazing tool to foster new relationships, to stay in touch when we are traveling away from home, to meet like minded people and to book tickets for a great date night. Now in the 21st Century, where the compulsion to check our phones seems greater than our craving for a real life breathing connection – we need to draw some healthy boundaries to preserve stimulating conversation, laughter, tears, hugs, smells and the peaceful delight of sitting quietly together with someone we care about.