The internet has significantly changed the way that people live and work, with many families now relying on digital tools for communication, employment, education and entertainment. Digital communication tools such as Facebook and email can help families save time and money contacting friends and extended family members, and simplify communication when families are apart. The internet can allow parents to telecommute, work at home as they raise young children, and easily access learning experiences.
Unfortunately, recent studies also suggest that the internet can have negative effects on family relationships. High internet use may lead to conflict between parents and adolescents over teenagers’ lack of social skills and it can mean that people neglect their family relationships.
Communication through social media characterizes modern lifestyles and relationships, including family interactions. The present study aims at deepening the role that parents’ perceptions about social media effects on family systems can exert within their family functioning, specifically referring to the relationship between collective family efficacy and open communications within family systems with adolescents. A questionnaire to detect the openness of family communications.
From the results, these perceptions emerge as a mediator in the relationship between the collective family efficacy and the openness of communications, suggesting that it is not only the actual impact of social media on family systems that matters but also parents’ perceptions about it and how much they feel able to manage their and their children’s social media use without damaging their family relationships.
Thus, the need to foster parents’ positive perceptions about social media’s potential impact on their family relationships emerges. A strategy could be the promotion of knowledge on how to functionally use social media. family systems, taking into consideration the role that parents’ perceptions about the impact of social media on family systems, whether positive or negative, can exert in the relationship between their perceived collective family efficacy and an open communication among family members; specifically, the leading hypothesis referred to the mediator role of these perceptions, whether positive or negative, in the above-mentioned relationship.
The results confirm the hypothesis, showing that parents’ perceptions represent a partial mediator of the relationship between their perceptions about collective family efficacy and openness of communications; nevertheless, the indirect effect of collective family efficacy on openness of family communications via parents’ perceptions about the impact of social media on family systems was small, showing that all the direct effects in the model were still bigger.