We live in a time where NOW is coveted. This instant gratification concept has been proverbially stamped on those in their mid-twenties and thirties. We shop for FAST delivery and FREE NEXT DAY SHIPPING. We scroll the internet for the BEST TOP 5 ways to eat fat and get slim or the next glorious recipe on Pinterest. We LIKE, HEART, and COMMENT on opinions about fashion, politics, and people’s everyday statuses, too.
Stamped in this age bracket is our social media and overall online mentality. And for the children we are rearing? Those who proclaim toddlerhood to teenage years? Their minds aren’t simply stamped with an ink that’s transparent and airy light. They’re NOW? It’s tattooed with instant preoccupation of SURF. Scanning and swiping is their everyday. iPads are their playgrounds. So much so that restaurants have them charged and ready at the tables where families are meant to share meals and conversations.
Children learn what they see. And what they see is a society in love with screens.
This immediate age of information and entertainment at our fingerprints is supposed to help us with relationships and staying connected. What I fear is happening is the exact opposite. Conversations aren’t being had. Eye contact and mindful presence is not practiced. Our American culture is becoming, in essence, desensitized by the overabundance of information and excessive collection of data watered down and, quite honestly, useless for best living practices. There is no OFF switch. No time away from the constant scroll or click. It’s just ongoing. “Refreshing the feed” is truly the perfect oxymoron. Social media addiction is the umbilical cord society has tied herself to that does anything but “refresh” or “feed.”
So how does one go about managing the social media addiction crisis? If it’s important enough for you to change your online habits, the following tips can be effective. Addictions begin unintentionally. Controlling and recovering from those addictions can happen with mindful intentions put into practice everyday.
1. SET PARAMETERS.
Guidelines are safeguards. They’re rules in practice. Set aside specific times when you plan to be online surfing or social media gallivanting. The need to unwind or check in with all things news, shopping, and social isn’t to be completely stifled. It’s important to give yourself the freedom to spelunk. Pre-plan places throughout your day that are meant for this 21st century pleasure. Be cognizant of when those times best serve you as well as your job requirements, and most of all, family. Lots of times the urge to scroll and surf becomes a reality in the evening when we’re tired or just done for the day. Make sure that your children see you present in real time. Steal away an online-ness when they’re at practice, music lessons, or dance class. Or, better yet, fast asleep for the evening. Children need to see parents face-to-face not face-to-screen.
2. PUT YOUR DEVICE IN ITS PLACE.
Have a location in your car, at work, and at home where your online device stays when those surfing times are not in session. Personally, I have untethered myself from random and unnecessary onlining just by reserving a out-of-the-way holding area for my phone. I stay intentional about where my time and focus is best needed until those surfing times are available to me. I also have several friends who have completely deleted their social apps from their phone to help snuff out their social media addiction.
3. KEEP RECORD OF THE GOOD.
Time becomes more manageable. Tasks get done. Connections are better made with the people we work, love, and value. Money is saved from the frivolous impulse monster we all know and battle. And best of all, overage fees of data are kept in our pockets instead of being profited back to the Verizons and Sprints of this world. Perhaps the biggest bang from your buck not spent social scrolling is the freedom from feeling less or the urge to compare your life to someone else’s. It’s human nature to want connection and find how we fit. Poison seeps in when we belittle our very value and worth all by the hand picked social life scenes we see there in our nonchalant scrolls. By choosing not to feed but better manage our social media addictions, we fend off the bite that stings from looking out instead of in.
This business of managing our eyes and hearts with the input we receive online is important. There’s an entire generation currently in pampers who deserve to see a life that’s balanced, healthy, and best lived. Our nation becomes greater when we manage with best intentions. I, too, have shared personally of my motherhood mishaps with social surfing and how it’s perceived through the eyes of my children. I wrote that story here for KMB about a year ago.