Thursday, 16 August 2012

The effect of Social Networking Sites on Families

Many legal professionals and Judges will have experienced first hand the statements that pile into court proceedings with various exhibits attached from a number of social networking sites. Many users of such sites will make negatives comments about their estranged partners following the breakdown of a marriage or a relationship.  These comments and insights into this sensitive situation are there for all their families and friends to see. On some occasions the children may also be exposed to what their parents are saying about each other as may their friends' parents. This can have an extremely negative effect on children to see adults behaving in this way towards each other. It is not just the public that do this but celebrities are often engaged in mud slinging matches about their relationships and it is there for the whole world to see. Everyone can get caught up in the hype and want to get their point across but at what cost? Why is there this need to justify to the world the intimacies of the relationship, why it went wrong, who is to blame etc. On the other hand there are celebrities such as Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes who reached their financial settlement within weeks of separation and remain dignified about the whole process.

In some cases estranged partners will openly threaten violence against each other and other family members may often join in. Inadvertently if the children are part of this social circle they become embroiled in these issues and it can have a devastating effect on them. I have seen many such instances where the relationship breakdowns often mention that partners are on such sites all of the time as a result of which they fail to spend time with their families. Many will wake up in the early hours to respond and communicate with their networks of friends and many have rekindled childhood romances through the use of such sites. This can lead to affairs within marriages and relationships which then ultimately causes the breakdown. Are we really that vulnerable as a society? Is it true that such sites contribute to the breakdown of families? Or is it simply the fact that such sites make it easier for those that are in unhappy relationships to seek solace with another ignoring the significant other in their lives already.

It is concerning that there are so many different networking sites right from those that are to socialize to those that allow people to simply meet others for sexual relationships without any strings. So are we responsible as a society for using such sites to fulfil our every need or are these sites simply providing an easy way out of a unhappy relationship for so many users. I think that in our society and within the busy lives that we lead it is so easy to tap into our smart phones and tablets what we want and many sites will spring up offering you everything that you are looking for and much more. This is right down to bathroom soap through to sites offering affairs to married men or women or to those that are simply bored in their current relationships.

I would say that this market is consumer driven and some of those consumers are in relationships. People have the desire to have such relationships and seek out these sites, pay the membership and sign up to be able to indulge their whims and fantasies.  If their partner was to find out then the current relationship may end but is the easier option to have discreet affairs and remain in a relationship? Is that what the stable family unit has become? It is very easy for people to make negative comments about such sites and say that these caused the breakdown of their relationship. The reality is that it is the person using such sites for illicit purposes that results in the breakdown of families. The intention of the individual is what is questionable and not the sites or its contents.

The reality is that such sites have made it easier for those who have the intention to seek out extra marital affairs to meet like minded people to have such affairs, whether married or in a relationship. The cause of the problem is the ease at which such relationships can be made available to those that seek them. I am well aware of the impact that the use of such sites can have on the family and on the children. It concerns me that such bad publicity is given to social media sites and networking sites when it is only as good as the users that are in there. I believe that the responsibility to stay together as a family unit falls on both parties and it is when one person loses that desire to remain as a family unit that problems start. The sad reality is that we all find what we want on the internet. It takes a lot of hard work to keep a relationship going and as a society we need to learn to fix what is broken and not seek solace elsewhere. If our relationships are not working we need to address such issues. Inevitably, some relationships do breakdown but the heartache that such sites and affairs can cause send ripples through family units and it is important to remember that if you have children each parent should behave in a dignified manner and aim to not cause their children embarrassment through making negative comments on such sites. Many children will tell their parents that they are embarrassing enough as it is!

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