Increased media use and its toll on relationships

Jan 14, 2017

With technology at our fingertips and connections easier than ever to make, you’d think we’d all have fulfilling relationships with people near and far. But even in our highly-connected world, we’re becoming less capable of forming and functioning in relationships.

This week on “Take Care,” Dr. Vinita Mehta talks about why so many people feel disconnected. Dr. Mehta is a licensed clinical psychologist, journalist and media expert. Her article, “Have We Become Less Capable of Forming Relationships?” appears in Psychology Today’s Head Games blog.

Attachment: Secure or Insecure?

A meta-analysis shows that over the past decade there’s been a drop in secure attachment and an increase in insecure attachment, according to Mehta.

“What this means for relationship is that people are having a harder time feeling connected and bonded to other people, including caregivers, friends, people in the community,” Mehta says.

And, according to Mehta, increased media use is one of the forces behind this change.

"A mobile phone really tends not to be inclusive of the group." - Dr. Vinita Mehta.

It may be that the rules of civility are changing. While there are still occasionally signs in waiting rooms, for example, asking patrons to stay off of their phones -- most people spend a large portion of their day on the phone. Whether it’s catching up on work email or for entertainment, many of us have trouble unplugging.

Distraction

Mehta explains that there are very positive ways to use a phone.

“When I work with patients on reducing anxiety, one of the main strategies that we use is distraction,” she says. A brain teaser or crossword puzzle can take your focus from one thing to another, but there’s always the possibility of going too far -- into escapism.

Listen to the full interview for more on how media usage, early childhood experiences and compassion factor into this discussion.