Addicted to Social Media? 4 Ways to Limit Screen Time
You stay up late checking in with Facebook friends. You wake up to feed the baby and peruse message boards on baby-related sites. You head to the library for story time and spend half of it taking pictures and posting them to your wall. You watch TV with your family and find yourself Googling information about the actors; or, worse, potential illnesses or the toxins found in various sunscreens.
If you find yourself spending way too much time on social media sites, you’re not alone.
A study from the Council for Research Excellence shows we now spend about 8.5 hours of our time in front of a screen – more time, even, than I spend each night sleeping!
All this screen time takes away the ‘real’ time we have to spend with the people we love, and it can also leave us feeling depressed and anxious. If you find yourself perusing Facebook all of the time, you’re likely comparing your life to that of your friends (or to others who you haven’t friended!), which can lead to frustration and feelings of failure.
People who worry too much might find themselves looking up information about health or ‘the right way to parent’, which can lead to anxiety; and parents have enough anxiety in their lives just trying to raise their kids!
Then there is the comparing problem. We see photos of smiling babies and we think why does mine cry all the time? We see posts about a nine month old walking and wonder why our twelve month old still hasn’t figured it out. Overachieving friends go out and do a million things when we can barely brush our teeth and get dressed for the day.
Then we feel like we can’t keep up.
While social media has its benefits – connecting with those in similar situations, keeping in touch with friends, sharing videos and photos with those who can’t be right beside us to watch our babies grow- it should also have its limitations.
If you find yourself logging onto Facebook throughout the day, or unable to go a few hours without Googling another parenting tip or recommendation; if you find yourself comparing your parenting techniques to others and you feel as though you are failing; if you can’t put the phone down even when you are perusing the aisles of Publix – it might be time to step away from that device.
Here’s how you can do it:
Be realistic with yourself
If you don’t think it’s a problem you won’t make a change. So ask yourself: How much time do I really spend online? Track it if you have to. Be conscious of the times you check your emails, Facebook page, Twitter account during the day. Do you constantly make updates about what your kids are doing even as they are doing it? Do you check your sites when you are out and about with the kids during the day? In line at the grocery store? Waiting for story time to begin? Watching your daughter’s dance class? If so, make a point to . . .
Put the device away for a day
You don’t have to start big. Just put the phone in your diaper bag and leave it there during your outings. I remember in the 80s when we had no idea what our friends were doing unless we were standing right beside them: no cell phones, no Internet status updates, nothing. We survived. We can do the same now. If you are out and about, make it a point to NOT check your mobile device for an entire day. (It’ll be tough in the beginning, I promise you! But you can do it!) So in essence . . .
Put yourself on a schedule
This is my hardest one! I can go without checking my phone while I’m out in public; it’s harder to say “I will only Google something or check my FB status in the morning and at night.” But this is what I promise myself for the next few days: I will only log onto my social media sites twice per day for the next few days. It’s not that logging on is a BAD thing; it’s just that, as with any habit, we do it without thinking after a while, until we find ourselves doing it constantly. And the only way to break that is to start actively thinking about it. If we spend a few days making it a point to only head online twice per day, once we start allowing ourselves to go on a bit more we will be aware of when we are logging on, and hopefully more apt to remember not to do it in those important times.
Because . . .
They are only young once
My oldest just turned nine. I don’t remember the Facebook statuses I thought were so important eight years ago, but I do remember her chubby legs as she took her first steps. If you spend your children’s childhood glued to a screen, you’re going to miss this special time. Yes, it’s fun to keep in touch with family. Yes, family and friends love our updates. But the most important thing is spending time with the people we love the most – uninterrupted, non-screen time. If you find yourself reaching for your phone to check your Facebook status while your son plays in the soccer game, ask yourself this: Which is most important: watching him grow or posting about it? (And you can find them both important: Just take the pictures during the game, and post them after!)
Do you find yourself logging on to social media sites too often? If you have found ways to limit screen time, how do you do this?
Photo via Flickr/nattu