Facebook, Instagram, Twitter — ubiquitous social media. Fun? Sometimes. Benign? Maybe not. In the middle of ending a marriage, social media can spell disaster for you. And, more importantly, for your kids.
Ending a marriage is never easy. Support from family and friends is essential. As you reassess and reevaluate the years of your marriage, and your future, you will need to process your emotions. Is social media the appropriate outlet for that process?
Social media and depression
Over the last 15 years, the use of social media has exploded. One concerning outcome is that depression has increased dramatically during the same time frame. Is there a correlation? Many medical professionals and social scientists believe there is a correlation. The Child Mind Institute cites the following:
In several recent studies, teenage and young adult users who spend the most time on Instagram, Facebook and other platforms were shown to have a substantially (from 13 to 66 percent) higher rate of reported depression than those who spent the least time.
What does this mean for your children as they navigate and adjust to the new normal in their life?
How your posts affect your child
No Facebook, or other social media post, is ever truly private. Even after choosing the strictest settings, people whom you did not intend may still see your posts. This may include your children, or it may include the parents of your children’s friends.
It is no surprise that people often speculate on someone’s divorce and the nature of it, and it is also no surprise that some of those conversations may take place in your child’s presence. Hearing secondhand information is never healthy for a child, especially when it involves their family.
How does social media affect you?
You may believe that social media is not a hindrance, but a help to you during this time in your life. After all, it is a fast and easy way to keep everyone you know up-to-date on how you are doing. The National Center for Biotechnology Information, as part for the National Institutes for Health, however, cites a study that links social media use to a higher likelihood of suicidal thoughts and actions.
At a time when grief over the end of a relationship can engender feelings from denial to depression, actively engaging in activities that can exacerbate sadness and loneliness seems imprudent at best. In addition, the “highlight reels” of people’s lives that are seen online (i.e. everyone is having as good time except you) further increase the difficulty of an already difficult time.
So how do I cope?
Taking a break from social media during your divorce is smart and healthy. Reaching out to people via phone or in person – where you can hear their voice – can provide the support and belonging that you need until the dust has settled and stability has been restored.