Sarah Parker graduated from Shenandoah University in 2014 with a Bachelors in Mass Communications. She is a native Virginian and currently resides in Manassas. She is a Sales Associate as well as a freelance writer.
Once upon a time, before cell phones and laptops were created, relationships tended to go like this: boy meets girl, boy likes girl, and boy or asks girl out. Nowadays though, instead of sending someone a note asking, “ Do you like me? Check yes or no.”, we have text messaging, Facebook and online dating sites like OkCupid and Tinder that cause our current college relationships, both friendly and romantic, rely almost solely on technology for communication. In a way, we use social media as a crutch, a shield to hide behind so that we don’t have to confront things in reality or so that we can be someone more exciting then who we are in real life. We use it to make dates, break up; some will even use it to go as far as to say, “I love you”, for the first time. It makes a person question just how much we rely on our cell phones and laptops plus the social media that comes attached to them to make a date either romantic or otherwise.
Statistics show that we tend to overuse our technology even after we are in a relationship. According to the Pew Research Center, 42% of people between 18-29 years old in serious relationships say their partner has been distracted by their mobile phone while they were together (pewinternet.org) and that 45% of internet users ages 18-29 in serious relationships say the internet has had an impact on their relationship (pewinternet.org). So, the question isn’t necessarily if technology is changing our relationships, it definitely is. The question is whether it’s for better or worse and what we can do about it.
Well, for starters we can try to cut back on technology. Now you don’t have to start throwing your laptops and TVs out your dorm windows or cancelling your Netflix accounts, but you can try to cut back to maybe a few hours of non-academic technology a day. Also, try to put aside time to go out with friends or your significant other even if it’s just to go get a burrito from Chipotle, or to wander around the mall window shopping. Maybe join an on campus club or help plan an event with the university to meet and get to know people at your school. You can even look for interesting and fun events in your local and school papers. Or if you are serious about cutting back on the tech, you could do a technology fast. Basically, for 24 hours you don’t touch anything related to technology: phones, television, the whole nine yards. While it may seem like a bit much, it may help you see things from a different perspective. The major thing to remember though is that when it comes to technology in your life, both in college and later it is all about balance. Ultimately you choose how much technology you want in your life and how you let it affect your current and future relationships.