Social media is an interesting beast. I’ve pretty much lived and breathed it since I started this blog back in 2009 – but if I’m honest I’m only starting to really ‘get it’ now – six years later. Maybe that’s because these days I make part of my income in the world of digital communications, or perhaps because I’ve had my first experience of feeling a bit burned by social media recently. (First time in six years – that’s pretty lucky I know.) Or, more likely, it’s because I’m starting to see how social media is going impact the world of my girls in the not so distant future.
This year the powers that be deemed it necessary for my eldest to have an iPad for school. (Deep breaths.) To be honest I’m fully supportive of technology becoming part of education. In fact I think it’s really important. Our kids are going grow up in a world filled with technology and school is one of the safest and most productive places for them to learn about it.
But what I didn’t expect was how the new school iPad was going to opened up our home to an entire new level of social media. Suddenly my daughter has access to email, face-time and a plethora of other junior social media produced by the Department of Education. In the past my girls have never been overly obsessive about screen time or games. We’ve never had to worried too much about managing their online time or restricting access – because they didn’t really care that much. But now that the social aspect of technology has arrived, I can see that this is going to change – quickly.
Where as I used to have to beg my mum to let me call my friends on our home phone (admittedly we talked for hours on end) kids these days can face-time, message and email each other. The social aspect of school life can keep running way outside of school hours. You can send each other emails at night to arrange what to play at lunch time tomorrow and organised play dates before your parents even know you’re chatting. It’s a brave new world of social overload.
Now all these things are genuinely okay on their own, but what I am starting to see is that social media is luring my girl in and there is a real danger of it beginning to suck up too much of her life. And that’s before we even start to think about the more far-reaching implications. I think the time has arrived for some purposeful family planning around the use of social media in our home.
So this, along with my own personal revelation that I too need downtime, has led me to Social Media Free Saturdays. I am beginning to think that as people we don’t actually turn off or enter into downtime when we are continually focused on our social media. As a self-confessed introvert, who gets my energy from downtime, that can be exhausting. Sounds weird I know – but I honestly don’t fully relax when I’m staying connected. Forcing myself to spend some planned time away has been a revelation and a relaxation all wrapped up in one – not to mention good role-modelling.
So my weekends are now pretty much social media free. (To be honest I occasionally sneak a look on my phone – but it’s happening less and less I promise.) And it feels good. It’s almost like closing the door on work (or school or whatever the case may be) and walking away into my own life again. (Feel that? See it’s relaxing just thinking about it.) Do you ever feel the need to unplug from social media? How do you set limits for yourself and your family.