Social networking is all the rage now, we hear about Twitter and Facebook, MySpace and YouTube on sitcoms, the nightly news and commercials, it’s absolutely mainstream. Social networking is changing how we use, watch, learn about and report the news and information, as well as make connections — business and personal. All good!
But . . . if computers and online-lives are taking away from family time, is it all good?
This is a question each person must ask themselves in the battle to stay connected to our families, children and spouses; to enrich our lives with our families — not to invite one more distraction into our lives of strangers and information that may make no difference (what you ate for breakfast) and BFFs who change weekly.
Studies are coming out now showing that online social networking contributes to less time spent with family, affecting family connections and relationships.
In the first half of the decade, families reported spending 26 hours a month together. By 2008, that dropped to 18 hours, according to the Annenberg Center for the Digital Future.
Certainly varying work schedules, travel, rising dual-income households, increasing commute times and work days, and participating in multiple children’s sports and activities are factors too. But the quick and continual (meteoric) rise of online social networking — what is new, exciting, cool, affordable and accessible by almost everyone — overshadows many of these other reasons in some families.
What can we do? Enjoy, use and utilize what are amazing technological advances and systems to help us connect like no other time in history, to do business, meet new people, help one another and create communities that in fact can be very helpful and real. And, at the same time, make sure you are shutting it off, making face-to-face contact and time with your family, kids, friends and others who are here and now right in front of you.
Need we remind ourselves of the famous Harry Chapin song lyrics . . .
“And the cats in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
When you comin home, dad, I don’t know when,
But we’ll get together then, Son,
You know we’ll have a good time then.”
Cat’s in the Cradle and Other Hits
The sadly ironic thing about this new distancing of relationships is that all the family members are in the same room, on cell phones, computers and other mobile devices, all talking to people around the world (and sometimes to the person within touch distance!!), but not one another! They ARE all home, but not HOME.
Relationships take time and work. Use it or lose it applies! And, if we’re talking about you being a parent, it’s a whole ‘nother level to this issue. You and your children will pay for gaps in their time with you for a life time. That is not worth it. Childhood development depends on real-time with parents and family, make sure to make that happen.
Am I an “online social networker?” You can find me at on Twitter. Not every moment, but I’m there, http://twitter.com/drdeclutter Just getting onto Facebook (to tell the truth, ‘m not great at all these sites – I like “face-to-face”.)