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Story | Research
25 February 2021

Be selective with digital media to avoid damaging relationships, DIFI conference hears


Social and digital media is part of our lives – but can it affect marriage and family relationships?

Image source: Chaikom, via Shutterstock

Discussion sees panelists question whether technology is the doom of modern marriage

People need to be mindful of the content they consume online, Doha International Family Institute’s conference on marriage has been told as the event focused on the effects of digital media on relationships and married life.

In a panel discussion that took place on the second day of the Qatar Foundation member’s conference, three speakers explored the topic Is Technology the Doom of Modern Marriage?, and likened social media use to “digital nutrition” while emphasizing the negative impact the virtual world can create on family life.

A panel discussion at DIFI’s conference discussed the potential impact of technology on marriage and families.

Explaining how technology plays a significant part in our daily lives, Wee Min Lee, Chairman of Focus on the Family Malaysia, said: “How many of us own a smart phone, a tablet, a computer - or, for that matter, all of these?

“I think all of us would have a hard time living without technology. We appreciate the value of technology, but we don’t frequently consider the negative consequences and the results of technology.

When we begin to spend too much time online – or with social media – and when it’s being overused, and it’s substituting personal interaction, then technology is placed in question

Wee Min Lee

“When we begin to spend too much time online – or with social media – and when it’s being overused, and it’s substituting personal interaction, then technology is placed in question. Are we giving up real life with a virtual life? If we are, the consequences can be adverse. If there is overuse. It can damage personal relationships.”

Lee said that spending time watching TV or using devices such as a tablet or mobile phone over spending time with a loved one can lead to conflict and create stress on a relationship, saying: “In the overall scheme of things, are text messages, social media, and browsing the internet worth hurting the ones that we love and we care about?

We try and make sure we are mindful with our phones, our technology, so we choose what we see – we don’t let these devices choose for us, as that’s when negative things start coming in

Aisha Rosalie

“It’s the very subtle way that technology can affect our marriage if we are not careful. We should ask: what or who is the first thing we greet in the morning?”

Speaking to the Doha International Family Institute (DIFI) conference about her personal experience of using technology in the context of family life, vlogger and panelist Aisha Rosalie spoke about how the key to using digital media is mindfulness.

If we spend our attention on social media and forget about our partners, in the long term it might lead to a lack of social bonding in the family

Raian Ali

“We don’t have a TV in our house,” she said. “We track our usage on our phones to make sure we aren’t overusing them. We try and make sure we are mindful with our phones, our technology, so we choose what we see – we don’t let these devices choose for us, as that’s when negative things start coming in. We’ve also turned notifications off on our phones.”

Raian Ali, Professor at the College of Science and Engineering within QF member Hamad Bin Khalifa University, said: “Social media is like any intervention in life. It is actually taking a resource, and that resource is very scarce – that resource is our attention.

The session took place on the second day of the international conference organized by DIFI.

“If we spend our attention on social media and forget about our partners, in the long term it might lead to a lack of social bonding in the family.

“We need to know what to stay away from, and what to stay close to, in the digital world. Basically, it’s like food; like digital nutrition. We need to be selective in what we consume.”

Professor Ali also spoke about the importance of pre-marriage education, saying: “I think some digital literacy and some compatibility of digital habits is needed.

“We look at compatibility between people and their habits, but do we look at their compatibility in their use of digital media?”

The three-day conference has brought together nearly 1,000 people from around the world. For more information, please visit

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