Is social media wrecking your real-life relationships?

 

Last summer, the children were babysat by some dear family friends while we attended my great-grandmother’s funeral.

The day after the funeral, I happened to bump into the family friends/babysitters. They had many funny tales of things the children did and said while under their care. Then one of the ladies became a bit serious, leaning in as if to tell me something scandalous that had happened.

Prepared to hear tales of one child hitting the other (gasp!) or of someone saying something sassy to an adult (not my children!), I cautiously leaned in to hear what possibly had transpired the previous day between my children and the babysitters.

Does Isaac have an email account?  asked the babysitter/family friend.

Nooooooooooooooo ¦  I said, wondering how someone had thought a three year old who (at the time) could not read or write had an email account.

Well, when he woke up from his nap he told me he needed to check his email. 

Out of the mouth of babes, dear reader.

Since that day last summer, I have heard my children pretend play such involvement in the on-line world. Someone has to check their email while another one pretends the piano bench is a computer, where they type furiously at imaginary keys. Obviously we are plugged into the Internet here at casa de phillips, with the husband and I both possessing several email accounts, blogs, twitter accounts and Facebook profiles. Just last week we had a serious discussion over whether or not we need to go ahead and purchase our children's domain names.

We might just be a bit involved with the Internet.

Last week a story came out about a  South Korean couple who neglected their real life child because they were wrapped up in caring for a virtual child in an on-line game they played. Tragic.

As our culture is becoming more immersed in the on-line world, some are starting to question if such an presence on the Internet is wrecking real-life relationships, especially those of the stay-at-home mom.

 

With a connection to the outside world found through on-line communities, many stay-at-home mothers are not experiencing the feelings of isolation like mothers  have felt in the past.  When a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) has a question about teething she can chat with other members of her birth club about possible soothing techniques for irritated gums. When the SAHM feels a bit lonely during a long day at home with a sick baby, she can take a few minutes to instant message a friend who lives hundreds of miles away. When a mom feels terribly overwhelmed by motherhood in general, she can send out a tweet that lets off some steam and instantly hear  a  bit of  encouraging feedback from others in the same boat.

The Internet has many positive things to offer the stay-at-home mom. Yet some are wondering if  today’s mommies are  becoming too involved in the on-line world. CNN posted an article discussing the notion that many moms could be suffering for an Internet addiction, suggesting that the need to update Facebook and check one’s Twitter account several times a day could possibly be classified as a mental disorder in the future. Although associating “mental disorder” with the desire to be involved with the on-line world can seem extreme, it is feasible to say that many mothers are letting on-line social media  networking consume too much of their day.

Before running out to find a therapist dealing with Internet addiction, take a few steps to ensure that time spent on-line is controlled and efficient.

  • Establish boundaries….and stick to them. Carve out time on the computer into the daily schedule and stick to those slotted times. Being plugged into an on-line community is not an evil effect of  modern technology.  However, being so plugged in that one neglects the important tasks of her life  could be detrimental to the person and the members of her family. Allot time in the day to hop on the computer and then stick to those specific times.
  • Be present when others are around. It may be fun to chat with an on-line friend after a long day of parenting, but it is even more fun (and necessary to the maintenance of a marriage) to chat with one’s spouse at the end of the day. Take steps to prevent on-line relationships from taking over the chance to interact with others who are sitting nearby in real life.
  • Go through detox on occasion. Amazingly the world will keep rotating if one forgets to update their Facebook status for a week and the global economy will not crumble if a blog is neglected for a few days. Routinely take time to detox from social media. Plan a week to simply leave the computer off. Sure, there are some emails that may be missed and one might not know what is going on with all their Facebook friends. Detoxing from social media for a few days allows balance and symmetry.
  • Now if you will excuse me, I have to send out a quick tweet and  type out a brief blog post before the children and I head out to the park….

    2 Comments

    1. I love this! It is true that on some days social media seems to creep a little further into my real life than I would like. Luckily, I wouldn’t have anything to blog about if I didn’t step away from the computer…

      I do find that I do my tweeting from my phone and fit it into moments that I would have wasted otherwise…carline, waiting for a sports class to finish, etc. I love being able to connect with friends in normally vacant minutes.

    2. Fantastic post.
      It’s so good to keep an eye on what’s happening and try to know your boundaries.

      I see the kindergartners “checking email” all the time and it makes me giggle.

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