If you haven’t watched Social Dilemma yet, I do suggest you take the time.
We had some issues with online use with our eldest when she was a tween, so we took more precautions with our younger three kids.
I don’t limit screentime for my kids. It’s too much work for me to police them and creates too much conflict. I want them to learn their own boundaries and limits and time management.
These days, with many kids using computers and smart devices to attend online classes or complete school work, it’s really hard to know where to draw the line between healthy online use and what might be too much. It’s just unfamiliar territory. I do feel there is something lost in translation.
Meetings and talks aren’t as dynamic as when done in person, with audience energy. We are losing our humanity to machines.
My kids are amused and horrified that I didn’t have Internet until I was about 18. Cell phones were bulky and in a big bag when my parents first bought one – for emergencies only. I didn’t own a smartphone until 2005 and that’s when I first got Facebook.
Being Gen X, I can remember not having this little pocket computer that is both a bane and a blessing. The biggest difference I see since I watched tons of TV as a kid is that now it’s all interactive and not safe even if it’s a private group or all the right parental controls are in place.
I have literally watched the explosive growth of the Internet, apps, smart devices…
I recognized early on all the ways that it could be abused and used for evil. While I love the ways it can be used for connection and good, I am wary and careful.
I know what it is to live without it and I know what addiction looks like and how to put it down and walk away.
I know I don’t use social media or my smartphone like many people do, and certainly not like most teens use them lately.
Little do they know that I have multiple devices: an iPad mini, Pixel smartphone, and a desktop computer.
I have a love/hate relationship with technology. I often long for the times before constant instant connection. I hate how we’re just expected to buy the newest and latest smartphone, tablet, computer and the corporations make them to break down quickly and unable to update.
I don’t like all the health tracking apps and smart home devices. I don’t want my information known and stored for whoall to listen, see, and know. How do I know the app or website is keeping me and my info safe? Who has access?
I have recently removed almost all photos of my kids. I posted lots over the years about our travels and homeschooling and daily life. I posted photos and details of my kids without their permission when they were too little to understand. I am updating the blog to remove details and photos. I am concerned about their privacy and consent. Their images and stories are not mine to share.
Yes, I’ve used screens as babysitters at home, in stores and restaurants, at airports and while traveling. It’s hard not to when they’re portable and convenient and seem relatively harmless.
I love how my one daughter uses apps on her tablet to create amazing art. Another daughter follows everything space explorers do worldwide on social media and NASA TV.
My kids and husband and I all send each other memes and I try to keep up with all the latest humor. I especially love the “Not a cell phone in sight. Just people living in the moment…”
I love that we were able to keep in touch so well when my husband was deployed. Technology even has come a long way in just a few years, compared to our first deployment when Skype was all we had and it was sporadic.
My personal boundaries with social media:
- I don’t feel the need to share everything.
- I only have about 35 friends on Facebook. I only keep family and close friends. Others can like my Page. I follow only pages and people I want to see.
- Put down the Twitter when news gets too overwhelming.
- I loathe Instagram and Pinterest since influencers took over and just use them for ads and sponsored posts.
- I’m careful what I post of myself and family members online. Only with permission. No location. No info they don’t want or we aren’t comfortable sharing.
- Regular screen breaks.
- Apps don’t have to connect to social media.
- I don’t have to use social media to login third party to apps.
- I limit how I can be tracked online.
- I turn off ads as often as I can.
Doomscrolling and schadensurfing eat up lots of time and erode our mental health. We need to find better and healthier ways to use our time.
And we have sadfishing where kids, teens, and adults “fish for” or seek interaction online by posting sad memes and statuses, hoping for likes and comments. But how do we know if and when these posts are real cries for help – depression, anxiety, suicidal?
Does my child have a Finsta or other fake accounts on various social media platforms to hide their identity or post images and statuses that I don’t know about or that they don’t want me to see? It’s important that my kids can be honest with me and feel comfortable talking to me about everything.
Of course I’m worried about online bullies, predators, porn, and ads marketing to children. I constantly discuss concerns with my kids and I keep up to date on the latest trends to protect our family. A disturbing trend is suicide on TikTok. Deepfakes are getting more clever and they’re not often funny. These apps aren’t going to protect anyone and it’s my job to be very aware what’s on them. Luckily, my middle kids only follow certain topics so they haven’t seen anything questionable. yet.
The social media companies spy and track users. They target us with ads that look more and more suspicious, like regular posts from friends, family, acquaintances. They store our information they collect in order to sell us more, more, more. We joke that they can hear us and get inside our heads and that may be partially true based on our clicks and what we like, watch, and share. The marketing gurus are getting paid to make these companies the most money and they don’t care who they exploit to do that.
Having multiple screens limits attention spans. We still don’t know that much about long term screen use and how it adversely affects brain development. I can certainly see the effects when the kids or my husband or I have been staring at screens too long. We get irritable, headachey, experience eye strain, and feel tired. If we’re watching TV or playing a video game, there is no reason to have a smartphone or tablet on too except occasionally for research purposes. I try to model and teach my kids to be all there and present instead of distracted.
It’s ironic that I met my husband online, fifteen years ago on Match. Also, the hot tubs and meetups in the early days of the Internet were far more dangerous then than they seem now with all the safety nets in the current dating apps. My eldest daughter has met some lovely friends online and being able to video chat and share screens is just innovative. We still discuss safety precautions and meeting in public crowded places, being aware or surroundings and letting me know where she is and who she is meeting.
It’s important to maintain face to face relationships, share hobbies, get outside, do activities together that don’t involve screens. We’re losing touch with who we are and our kids don’t know any better if that’s all they see their parents, peers, and others do.
Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace
Tips for Healthier Social Media Use:
- Turn off notifications.
- Remove from device any apps that are problematic.
- Remove apps from the homescreen.
- Set time limits for screen time or certain apps in settings.
- No devices at the dinner table or meal times.
- Turn off devices and place in charging station one hour before bedtime.
- No devices in bedrooms.
- Use browser extensions to block social networking sites.
- Observe a digital sabbath each day, week, or month.
- Only follow people, pages, accounts that add value to your life.
- One screen at a time.
- Take frequent screen breaks.
Screens are a vital part of our lives, connecting us and granting instant information. While I love being able to research something at any moment, we need balance and moderation in our lives too. I try to model and teach my kids to connect face to face instead of just through screens.
It’s up to me as a parent to navigate this brave new world and keep up so I can teach my kids best practices to protect them from questionable apps, spying social media, inappropriate websites, and mean people online.
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