• Amy Arfi

Is whatsapp ruining my relationship with my parents?

Two blue ticks are nothing compared to a hug

I am comfortable in assuming that I am not the only young person that has been a victim of the constant nag to put the phone down by someone of an older generation. It’s not exactly fake news to argue that we are a nation glued to our phones, tablets, laptops and any other screened-objects Apple are likely to throw at us in the near future. The issue, however, no longer lies solely with anti-social teenagers scrolling through their feeds – it’s our parents too. Or, in my case, parents, grandparents, cousins and distant aunts- the list is endless. Don’t get me wrong, having a family chat with loved ones can be as great as sharing one with your mates, but where is the line, and has it had an effect on our relationships with our parents more than we even realise? 

It’s understandable when saying that my own circumstances are relatively extreme; not everybody receives a morning Snapchat with their grandmother’s Bitmoji next to it. Despite being three hours away at university, it can sometimes feel that I’m right back in my living room with my family. It is inevitable that as constant messaging through social media becomes more pertinent in our mainstream forms of communication, the widening effect stretches to not only our circles of friendship, but our families too.

This raises the question of oversharing, which often applies above and beyond those that you share the same blood with. It’s one thing posting a snap of your university rugby initiation for all your fellow teammates to see and laugh at, but, do your parents need to see every single step of your night out, upon which you were a bit more than merry? Perhaps not. I’m sure your other 50 friends who also tap through your stories on a daily basis would also agree. There is a narrow line between sharing with your family what you’re up to at uni, and letting them see a part of it which you wouldn’t necessarily show them in person. 

Yet again, this can have adverse effects if we view this issue from the other end of the spectrum. We are all aware that the crux of social media is posting about the highlights of your life; the nights out, the amazing food you ate, the cool places you’ve been with your tons of friends. But how often do you see someone share the hidden sides of university that you don’t hear about. The times you cried in your room, left a club early or were really disappointed with the grade you worked really hard for. Could it be that despite the increased contact with your parents through outlets such as WhatsApp, your personal relationship with them suffers slightly? After all, it’s quality over quantity, and surely one lengthy phone-call a week is more valuable than several exchanges of shortened texts and cat videos.

My love/hate relationship with social media stems from this exact debate - how meaningful can one’s social media profile really be? I often like my own sister’s Instagram posts or Facebook statuses, but haven’t asked her how she is in weeks. I cannot help but feel guilty about how lazy social media makes us. It’s food for thought at least.