Social Media and Youth in Pakistan: Implications on Family Relations
International Islamic University Islamabad,
- *Corresponding Author:
- Rabia Ali
International Islamic University Islamabad,
Tel: +92 51 9019100
Received date: February 27, 2016; Accepted date: June 23, 2016; Published date: June 30, 2016
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Global Media Journal
Social Networking Sites (SNS) are increasingly becoming a focus of discussion in the academic literature across the globe. The current research was conducted to explore the effects of social media on youth in contemporary Pakistan especially focusing on the change in family relations. Under the paradigm of quantitative research methodology the researchers used survey method to collect data. Data was collected through structured questionnaire from 175 Masters level students from the International Islamic University Islamabad who were excessively using SNS. The respondents were selected by using Random sampling technique and stratified sampling technique. The findings show that the majority (94%) of the respondents acknowledged that excessive use of social media affects family relationships negatively. They reported to have experienced being isolated and alienated from relatives, friends and from themselves. This in turn was reported to lead to introvert personalities. In the light of the findings it can be concluded that the use of SNS among youth is reducing the bonding of the youth with their family and is changing the value system.
Socialmedia; Family relations; Technological sociology; Socio-cultural
In the modern era internet has grown to be one of the most
powerful sources to connect people . With the advancement of
internet Social Networking Sites (SNS) are increasingly becoming
popular  and have become the most up to date and attractive
tools for connecting people across the world . These sites have
created transnational, international and national spaces where
strangers meet and tie in social relations. Some of the most
popular SNS include MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Viber
and what Sapp. These have made it possible to easily connect
with the world and these applications have attracted millions of
users, plenty of whom have integrated these in to their every day
practices. The social network sites have thus changed the way
people connect across the world .
When it comes to the popularity of SNS developing countries
too are at the forefront. In the context of Pakistan social media is
getting distinction day by day . Thirty million people in Pakistan
have been reported to be online everyday and the number is growing quickly. Likewise there are 120 million versatile endorsers
in Pakistan that make it the fifth biggest cellular telephone
showcase in Asia . Face book is presently the most broadly
utilized social media site in Pakistan with nine million clients in the
nation. It has been reported that face book has over one million
supporters a month and 44 thousand new clients joining the site
consistently. Pakistan’s face book audience has been reported
to be 70% male, 30% female as of April 2013 . Face book has
turned into one of the fundamental channels of correspondence
between evacuee Pakistanis living in the Gulf States, European
nations and the US and their families back home .
Scholarship on the use of SNS is huge. Research on SNS offers
detailed account of its association with multiple aspects including
violence among youth and issues related with harassment
resulting from excessive use of social media. The role of social
media in creating activism has been researched in various
contexts , the connection of social media with social capital
has been debated [10,11], and the association of social media
with identity construction has been discussed . Previous research has also highlighted the challenges and opportunities
related to SNS across the world .
The association between SNS and family relationship is also an
area which has been researched widely across the globe. In this
regards a growing concern related with SNS has been reported to
be the increasing change in the behavior and interests of people
towards their relatives. There was a time when people around
the world were conscious about relationships, family matters and
their friends circle but the scenario has changed in the recent
past. People who used to give plenty of time to their families
and their social circle spent hours and hours on surfing internet
or other futile activities. It has been argued that because of this
plenty of families are now lacking the close emotional pledges
that build when they have close social contact .
This indicates that SNS have influenced the family connections.
Excessive use of SNS has been reported to lead to the isolation
of individuals because they restrict themselves to their rooms
and neglect the family gatherings. Individuals who become
accustomed to the use of internet do not realize the wastage
of time. Hence, in Pakistan as well as in the rest of the world
excessive use of SNS is turning to be a threat for the youth.
In the light of the above discussion and considering the extremely
high usage of SNS in Pakistan the current study was conducted
to explore the relation between social media youth and family
1. To investigate the reasons for the excessive use of social
media among youth.
2. To explore the effects of excessive use of social media on
Previous studies show that adolescents make a great transition
from a focus on parents to a focus on peers. In adolescence peers
become increasingly important and forming and maintaining
friendships becomes one of the main challenges. Until now most
research on social development of adolescence had focused on
in-person interactions. In the contemporary world a shift has
occurred from real-life social interactions with peers to online
social interaction on SNS [15,16].
Social Networking Sites have been known as a platform to build
social relations among individuals. This has especially been
so for individuals who for example, share interests, activities,
backgrounds, or real-life connections. However, recently the
excessive use of SNS among youth has been reported due to
access to internet. The amount of time spent on social media has
dramatically increased over the last few years since electronics
have become popular in our everyday lives [16,17].
The excessive use of SNS in turn has been reported to affect the
performance of individuals in real life . The new generation of
kids and teens are growing up with social media as an integral
part of their lives. It is changing how they interact with peers,
parents and how they use technology . Individuals who use
SNS excessively have reported to feel unproductive and distracted in school, at work and from relationships . Instead of focusing
on work, school and family, the youth today spend majority of
time online. As a consequent of spending time on SNS youth
tend to neglect obligations. This has been reported to negatively
impact the lives of the youth and their relationships with families.
Research shows that the overwhelming submission to the
SNS has pulled people away from traditional social settings,
neighborhoods, voluntary associations, and public spaces that
have been associated with large and diverse core networks
. The impact of social media utilization on interpersonal
connections is changing the way individuals interact in face
to face communications. It is also believed to have diminished
the social and behavioral abilities of humans. The SNS have
changed the conduct and hobbies of the individuals towards their
relatives and have been reported to have weakened family ties
. This is because when individuals communicate online they
don’t feel personally connected to the people at the as they do
when during face-to-face conversations. Hence, though people
may be communicating more on the internet but they may not
necessarily be building strong relationships .
This is especially true for the youth who spend hours on the
SNS completely ignoring real relations. According to research
conducted in the context of USA has Americans in the last few
decades have become isolated socially. The social groups of
people in America have been reported to have decreased.
In particular, Americans are believed to have fewer close
ties to those from their neighborhoods and from voluntary
One reason for weakening of ties has been reported that youth
spend more time with peers on line than they spend with their
families  in their research have explained that use of SNS
among youth has affected family life. Nearly one in three parents
in their study had such feelings. Rosen and his colleagues also
found that teens who spent a great time on Myspace believed
that they lacked support support from their parents. In addition,
research indicates that the excessive usage of social media
increases level of loneliness and isolation and reduces bonding
among intimate relations. As they become attached to their
computers and smart phones individuals tend to show less
concern towards family matters and families are now lacking the
close emotional pledges .
Social Networking Sites have also been reported to affect the
academic performance of the students. It has been found that
the spending of unnecessary time on the internet can have
serious implications for the performance of students at academic
institutions. Hence, though the SNS may be a great means for
enjoying yet the problem arises when individuals subtly substitute
electronic relationships for physical ones. Though people may feel
connected to peers via the Internet, yet this relation paradoxically
engenders a sense of social isolation.
Likewise, qualitative evidence adds that social networking
sites such as Myspace can also result in serious conflict among
parents and children leading to reduced control of parents over
their children . However some researchers have argued that
internet may not be a problem when sufficient supervision was available and when it was ensured that they used it properly. A
study by Gustavo Mesch found that family time was not affected
when adolescents used the computer for educational purposes
only if they used it for social purposes then there will be negative
effect on family interaction . So, it is imperative that parents
should be able to keep check on how their children use the
internet by placing a time limit on long they can spend on the
However, in majority of the cases it has been reported that
parents may not know much about their teen's online activities.
There is gap in the existing literature on parents knowledge of
their children use of social media. Often parents are not aware
of their online friends and what information o they have access
to. For example parents are reported to be unaware about the
time teens spend on Myspace . In such cases parents may
not be effective at setting limits and monitoring the activities of
the children. For being able to reduce the gap between parents
and children the parents also need to be educated about social
Due to the above reasons and others the limitations of SNS
are also being debated across the world. Some scholars have
considered the excessive use of SNS as a threat and danger to
families and society. However, people who explicitly emphasize
the drawbacks of social media are not entirely against the idea
of networking. Yet they are of the opinion that the replicated
relationships become dominant in the lives of excessive media
users than those of their real relationships. This is how social
networking becomes a threat to our families and societies .
The current study was conducted by using a quantitative approach
that emphasizes on objective measurements and numerical
analysis of collected data. It relies on statistical approaches to
generate valid and empirical results. The tool for current research
was survey. Research instrument for current research data
collection was questionnaire.
The area/locale of current research was International Islamic
University Islamabad. The target population was the female
students enrolled in Masters programmes in various departments
in the Faculty of Social Sciences belonging to age group 20-26
who reported to be using SNS excessively. Since the aim of this
study was to focus on the excessive usage of SNS and its effects
hence those students who reported to use SNS excessively were
selected purposively. By using stratified sampling technique 175
students were selected for the interviews.
In the first phase of the study pretesting was carried out by
distributing 30 questionnaires in order to check the reliability of
the instrument. For the analysis of quantitative data, statistical
package for social sciences (SPSS) was used which facilitates
the researcher in more than one way such as time saving and
reduction of large amount data to basic pattern etc. Univariate
analysis has been done to interpret the data.
Results and Discussion
The selected respondents belonged to various departments in the
faculty of Social Sciences including Sociology (32%), Psychology
(24.57%) and Education (43.42%). The majority of the respondents (94.3%) were single and unemployed (87.42%). The respondents
belonged to different types of family systems i.e. 54.3% were
living in joint family system, 43.4% living in nuclear family system
and 2.3% respondents were living in extended family system. The
data shows that the majority (55.7%) respondents spent 6-10
hours on SNS per day using different apps and visiting different
sites (Table 1).
|No. of apps used
|Four and above
Table 1: Applications used by the respondents.
The availability of applications is the first thing which attracts
youngsters to SNS. The data shows that the majority of the
respondents 38.9% used four plus apps on the SNS.
According to the data from this study the most popular SNS was
twitter as evidenced from the fact that 33.7% respondents were
using it. Face book was reported to be used by 20.6%, whatsapp
was used by 19.4% respondents, viber was used by 7.4%
respondents, youtube was used by 6.9% respondents, tango was
used by 9.1% respondents, and skype was reported to be used by
2.3% respondents (Table 2).
|Sit and chat with family
|Help my mother or father
|Connect with the social sites
|Love spending more time on social media
|Want to do my favorite tasks
Table 2: Opinion about recreational activities.
The respondents were asked about the daily activities they
performed during free time (Table 2). When asked if they would
prefer to spend time with family members instead of being on
social media 88% responded that they would sometimes prefer it
and 8.6% responded that they would always prefer it. This shows
that social networking sites reduce the actual human contact and
those who are active on social sites appear not to have time for
the actual life interactions.
The respondents were also inquired if they helped their
parents in free time. According to the data, 70.9% respondents
said sometimes, 27.84% respondents said always and 1.7%
respondents said never. In response to the question if they liked
being on the SNS sites the responses were 36.0% said sometimes,
59.4% said always and very few like 4.6% said never (Table 3).
|Reasons for using SNS
|To make new friends
|To find old friends
|To communicate with existing friends
|To interact with people with common interests
|To pass time
Table 3: Reasons for using SNS.
Previous research shows that teenagers use SNS for a number
of reasons. One of such reasons has been reported to make new
friends and to stay in touch with existing friends. It has been found
that social media users under the age of 50 are especially likely
to say that these tools help them keep up with existing friends
and reconnect with old ones-roughly seven in ten users under
the age of fifty say that staying in touch with current friends is a major reason they use online social platforms, and just over
half say that connecting with old friends they’ve lost touch with is
equally important . Research on SNS and youth has also found
that girls usage of sites is mainly for the purpose of strengthen
pre-existing friendships and for boys it for flirting and making new
The data from this study shows that the primary purpose of the
SNS for the respondents was to make new friends and to stay
in touch with the existing friends. 76.0% responded that they
sometimes used SNS to make new friends and stay in touch
with old friends while 10.3% stated always used SNS to make
new friends and to remain in touch with existing friends. The
respondents were also of the view that they often preferred to
interact with people with common interests. When asked if they
used SNS for finding old friends 73.1% said sometimes and 26.3%
said always. When inquired if they used SNS to communicate
with existing friends 88.6% replied always. 69.1% responded that
they sometimes used SNS to interact with people with common
interest and 85.7% respondents replied that they always used
SNS to kill time (Table 4).
|Negative impacts of SNS
||To some extent
||To great extent
||Not at all
|More connection with online friends than home
|More reliance on electronic medium
|Increases level of loneliness
|Least concerned with family matters
|Less emotional bonding with family
Table 4: Negative effects of SNS on personal and family life.
In order to determine in what ways the SNS had effected family
relations the respondents were asked further questions. The
responses of the respondents indicate that SNS have often
negative effects which lead to change in social relations by
decreasing family bonding.
Some of the negative aspects discussed were more connection
with online friends than time spent with family reported by 80%
(to a great extent), and 14.9% (to some extent) and more reliance
on electronic medium reported by 61.1% (to a great extent).
Similar findings have been reported in previous studies .
Likewise emotional disturbance was reported to be one negative
effect of social media. The respondents were asked to give their
views as to what extent they were facing emotional disturbance.
According to data 88.6% said to some extent, 4.6% said to great
extent and 4.0% respondents said not at all. It was also inquired
to what extent using social media increases the level of loneliness
among the individuals. According to the data 69.1% said to some
extent, 28.0% said to great extent, and 2.9% said not at all.
The data also shows that the respondents have less emotional
bonding with the family. According to data 65.1% agreed to this
said to some extent, 24.6% to great extent, and 7.4% not at all.
The fact that the bonding of the respondents with their family
members is decreasing is also evident from the fact that the
majority of the respondents reported to be leased concerned
with family matter. In response the statement ‘least concerned about family matters’ 71.4% respondents reported to a great
extent while (Table 5).
|Positive effects of SNS
|Medium of communication between old friends
|Medium of communication between new friends
| Updates about latest fashion trends
|Easily stay in touch with the family abroad
|Can find a life partner
|It has been a great way to enjoy my leisure
|Got awareness about global scenario
Table 5: Positive effects of SNS.
Despite the negative effects the data shows that social media
has some healthy merits as well (Table 6). The respondents were
asked to what extent they agreed or disagreed with the statement
that social media is a medium of communication between old
friends. According to data 17.7% respondents strongly agreed,
81.7% agreed and .6% were neutral. The respondents were
asked to what extent they agreed with the statement that social
media is a source of making new friends. According to data 24.6%
respondents were strongly agreed, 65.7% respondents were
agreed, 8.6% respondents were neutral and 1.1% was disagreed.
|SNS and family relationships
|Using social mediais becoming a trend nowadays
|Less face to face interaction
|Make relations nonexistent
|Pays less attention to the siblings
|Lacking the close emotional pledges
Table 6: SNS and family relationships.
Social media is also believed to update about latest fashion
trends. The respondent was asked to what extent they agreed
with this statement. According to data 70.3% respondents
reported to strongly agree, 29.1% respondents agreed, and 0.6%
respondents were neutral.
Social media is also a good source for remaining in touch with
family members living abroad. It is believed to have allowed
migrant families across the world to communicate with ease
where communication through occasional letters and phone
calls used to be expensive. According to data 90.3% respondents
strongly agreed, 6.9% respondents agreed, 2.3% respondents
were neutral, 0.6% respondents disagreed.
When the respondents were inquired if they had found their life
partner on the SNS the responses were interesting. According to the data 1.7% strongly agreed, 25.7% agreed to the statement,
14.3% were neutral, 31.4% disagreed and 26.9% strongly
disagreed. Previous research shows that very few social media
users say that finding potential romantic partners or people to
date plays a role in their use of these sites .
The respondents were asked that they found social media a
great way to enjoy leisure or when alone. According to the data
53.1% strongly agreed, 36.0% agreed, 9.7% were neutral, 0.6%
disagreed and 6% strongly disagreed. The respondents were
asked if they had got awareness about global scenario. According
to the data 42.9% strongly agreed, 46.9% agreed and 10.3% were
neutral. Source: survey.
The negative effects of SNS discussed above clearly indicate
its influence on family relations. It is clear that as a result of
access to electronic the respondents reported to connected
with their online friends. This resulted in emotional disturbance
and loneliness on one hand and importantly the respondents
acknowledged having least concern with family matters and less
emotional bonding with the family. In order to determine in what
particular ways family relations are being affected by the use
of SNS further questions were asked from the respondents. In
response to the statement if the use of social media has become
a trend 83.4% strongly agreed and 16.6% agreed.
In response to the question if SNS had reduced face to face
interaction 70% strongly agreed. When asked if social media
makes family relations nonexistent 42.3% respondents strongly
agreed, 43.4% were agreed, 8.6% were neutral, 4.0% were
disagreed and 1.7% strongly disagreed. Previous research has
suggested that internet communication had a negative impact
on the individual by reducing face-to-face interactions and
increasing level of loneliness . Research has also found that
teens use media and instant messaging as a substitute for face to
face interaction with friends .
In order to determine how use of SNS affects social relations the
respondents were asked if addiction to social media detaches
individuals from siblings. To this question 46.3% respondents
strongly agreed, 44.6% agreed, 7.4% were neutral, 1.1% was
disagreed and 0.6% strongly disagreed.
The respondents were asked if families are now lacking the close
emotional pledges because of excessive usage of social media.
According to data 49.1% strongly agreed, 42.3% agreed, 6.9%
were neutral, 1.1% was disagreed and 0.6% strongly disagreed
to the statement. This has also been reported in previous studies
that families are now lacking the close emotional pledges with
their offspring and that SNS have changed the behavior &
interests of the people towards their relatives [28-30].
The aim of the study was to find out how social networking
sites are affecting family relationships in Pakistani society. The
data shows that SNS are contributing in many ways and there
are many positive attributes associated with the use of the SNS.
Yet negative effects of SNS cannot be ignored. Importantly, the
data shows that the use of SNS is deeply associated with family
relationships. Excessive usage of SNS is alienating the youth and
making them isolated. While doing this the social media is creating
gap between the family and youth. The youth in contemporary
Pakistan are being detached from their families and friends as a
result of the time they spend online. This has serious implications
on the cultural values of the Pakistani society. This indicates that
notwithstanding the fact that access to SNS has changed the way
individuals think, how they interact, the way they experience life,
the way they share opinions, and make friends and importantly
the way they exercise their right to vote. However, it’s time to
reconsider the use of SNS to keep a balance between the changing
global world and the values and norms of the society.
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