A Dad’s Point-of-View - Are you a social media addict?

First published in Blogs 2014 Bromsgrove Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by

Let’s start with the definition of addict (from dictionary.com): ad•dict noun ~~ A person who is addicted to an activity, habit, or substance: a drug addict. Okay, that seems simple enough. I’m addicted to many things, thankfully none of them all that harmful. They include skiing, my kids, writing, eating, and maybe, just maybe Social Media.

Here are some questions for you and me: 1. How often a day do you check your various Social Media accounts? For example, Twitter, Facebook, comments on your blog, Pinterest, Google +, etc.

2. Do you have a day off from “doing” Social Media?

3. When on vacation, do you make sure wherever you go has Internet access?

4. Will you pay for Wi-Fi on a plane?

5. Will you pay for Wi-Fi anywhere?

6. Do you pay for Wi-Fi via a mobile provider so you have a connection with you wherever you go?

7. Have you tried to go cold turkey for any period of time? And, if so, how did that work for you?

8. What does your family say?

9. Do you check your Social Media in bed?

10. How much time do you spend on your Social Media per day?

Okay, there are a good ten questions. On reviewing them, I think I will take the 5th and only answer some, but out of order and context. Herewith my answers, Yes, No, Maybe, Twice, Of course, 14, 52, Are you kidding?

Now, your turn!

Everything in life is about balance, isn’t it? As a parent, the balancing act often becomes more challenging. Work, spouse, kids, play, other relatives, religion, exercise, diet, are all things we juggle. It’s said that the average person watches an inordinate amount of television every day. That is a choice the average person makes. I watch perhaps 2-4 hours of television a week. Every member of my family exceeds that amount by many multiples.

Yet, they say I spend too much time on my computer. Hmmm, double standard?

Another question not on the list above relates directly to parenting and it’s one I’ve asked myself and consequently adjusted my behavior. I work at home so when my boys come into my home office, I’m usually working. The question I asked myself was do I put aside that work to pay attention to my boys when they come in to see me? The answer was a decidedly mixed one of, “sometimes.” I don’t like that answer and I’m now working towards, ALL THE TIME. There’s little that I do that can’t wait and there’s precious little time I have left with my boys at home with one off to college in the fall and the other finishing his freshman year in high school.

Nothing I do – work-wise – is more important than those moments with my boys. Heck, even my dogs come into my office and want attention. I always stop and give them a little and then gently push them towards the doggie bed I put next to my desk.

My work is Social Media so the distinction between work and play is not completely clear, especially to my family. They see me “at work” and see me smiling, laughing, and talking to myself. It sure doesn’t look like work to them. But, if I were working at an outside office, what would be the difference? Simply, that when they wanted to see me, they’d have to wait until I got home!

If you’re a parent, are you spending quantity or quality time with your children? As you may know, I believe the only kind of time a parent should spend with their children is quantity time. In fact, I believe there is no such thing as quality time.

The other BIG issue, for parents, is how much time they allow their children to be on their “screens.” Think about how many screens are available to our kids: cell-phones, television, computer, portable games, X-Box and Wii, etc. How much time do your kids spend on screens versus spend outside? My suggestion is that children should be accountable for their time in the same way I’m asking YOU to be accountable for your time in Social Media.

The simplest fix is to require at least equal time doing things IRL (in real life) as time spent on a screen. Even better would be higher ratio of time in real life vs. screen time. In our home, television viewing was not allowed at all on school days and limited on weekends, when the boys were young. Plus, the ONLY television we had was, in essence, a monitor. We had no cable or satellite so the only things my boys watched were DVDs that I approved. Please consider these suggestions to get your children outside, off the tube, and doing more with their lives!

Ask yourself all these questions? What are your priorities? Is there balance in your life? Is there a balance in your children’s lives?

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