Tick Tock Goes the Social Media Clock: Finding Balance Between Social Media and Family Time
By Katelyn King
Have you ever been checking your Instagram or Facebook while you should probably be paying attention to your kids or get something productive done? Or pinning away on Pinterest and time has just flown by?
I’m not trying to make parents feel guilty for using social media. Social media is a great way to keep up with friends and family, share good messages and learn from others. If we use social media for good it is a great tool, but it can turn into a tool of distraction, and quite frankly, a timewaster. Spending too much time in the digital world and not enough time being present in our own homes can be hard on our families.
A few weeks ago my phone made a notification sound and my 3-year-old son said “Oh no!” He then ran, got my phone and said, “You have to check it!” I remember thinking, my son thinks the phone takes priority. We were playing together and everything had to stop because I had a Facebook notification. This caused me to really reflect on how much time I am on my phone and what that means for my children.
Five Ways to Create a Healthier Balance:
- Have Screen-Free Time Every Day. Kids are replacing physical play and social interaction with screen time. As parents, we need to make sure we are setting an example on how to spend time wisely. “Parents are children’s main role models, so it’s important for moms and dads to have healthy digital media habits. This means being conscious of setting down cellphones, turning off the TV and shutting laptops at night” (Middlebrook, 2016). Set some boundaries for media usage in your home. For instance, have a block of screen-free time each day or make cell phones off limits at the dinner table or in bedrooms.
My husband and I have started enjoying screen-free time each evening when he gets home from work. We put our phones in a drawer on silent and spend time with our kids eating dinner, talking, playing, singing my son’s favorite songs, or having a crazy dance party. It has helped us grow closer as a family.
- Limit Your Time on Social Media. A recent study by Mediakix explored the average time spent per day on popular social media sites. They found that people spent 40 minutes on YouTube, 35 minutes on Facebook, 25 minutes on Snapchat, 15 minutes on Instagram and 1 minute on Twitter. (Cohen, 2017) These times vary for everyone of course, but on average two hours of our day is spent on social media and most likely this average will continue to increase. Keep track of your time on social media the next few days and set goals to cut back and replace some of that time with your family, friends and hobbies.
- Delete Time-Sucking Apps off Your Phone. A study was done where an app was installed on participants phones to track their social media usage. It was found that on average people opened their social media apps 85 times a day (Woollaston, 2015). People are spending twice as much time as they realize on social media than they think. Making it so it is not just one mindless click away could be beneficial for you and your family. Even if you just delete your social media apps for a week or two to help break the habit of overuse, and recognize when you are naturally, mindlessly checking.
- Make Time Count. Ask yourself: what are you using social media for? You may not need to get rid of social media, but maybe be a little wiser with your media use. “While some may be addicted to their social media networks, it is one of the best ways to stay informed.” (Agrawal, 2016) A majority of people are mindlessly scrolling and pinning. We can do things like following good organizations, read good articles our friends are posting, look up videos that cause you to think and learn. Pay attention to what you are using your social media for. Try an have the majority of your use be good. Seek out good organizations, raise awareness and get involved.
- Fix Your Routine. Pay attention to when you pull out your phone. Social media usage becomes a habit, an addiction. There is nothing wrong with setting time aside for social media, but pay attention to WHEN you are on social media. Try to figure out the best time in your day to have time and for how long. Setting boundaries to social media usage can help increase our productivity and time usage.
We need to set an example for our kids of being present and choosing to have a healthy balance between online life and our real life.. A great resource in helping our children learn about boundaries, community, empathy, honesty, friendship and more, is 30 Days to a Stronger Child. There are activities that can be done together as a family and for your children individually.
Teach your kids that there is more to life than technology. “Your child will follow your example, not your advice” (Wellington, 2016). We need to show them. Show your children they matter by setting goals and making changes.
Looking for a great story that will teach your child how to use technology deliberately? Check out Noah’s New Phone: A Story about Using Technology for Good, available on Amazon.
Katelyn King is a wife and mother of two children. She is a Brigham Young University-Idaho graduate, with a Bachelor’s degree in Marriage and Family Studies, and she is an advocate for parent child relationships.
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Agrawal, A. (2016, March 18). It’s Not All Bad: The Social Good Of Social Media. Retrieved August 26, 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/ajagrawal/2016/03/18/its-not-all-bad-the-social-good-of-social-media/#4432d70f756f
Cohen, D. (2017, March 22). How Much Time Will the Average Person Spend on Social Media During Their Life? (Infographic). Retrieved August 26, 2017, from http://www.adweek.com/digital/mediakix-time-spent-social-media-infographic/
Middlebrook, H. (2016, October 21). New screen time rules for kids, by doctors. Retrieved August 26, 2017, from http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/21/health/screen-time-media-rules-children-aap/index.html
Wellington, C. (2016, July 25). Your Child Will Follow Your Example, Not Your Advice. Retrieved August 28, 2017, from https://exploringyourmind.com/child-will-follow-example-not-advice/
Woollaston , V. (2015, October 29). How often do YOU check your phone? Average user picks up their device 85 times a DAY – twice as often as they realise. Retrieved August 26, 2017, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3294994/How-check-phone-Average-user-picks-device-85-times-DAY-twice-realise.html