When a year ends and a new one begins, it's usually time to take stock of everything in our lives. We think back on our achievements and failures. We consider how much progress we’ve made and how we can be better.
The beginning of the year is also a time to make "resolutions": we say to ourselves that we’ll start dieting, we’ll exercise more, we’ll be more patient with our children, and so on...
Probably, each of us will have already taken his own resolutions regarding family relationships, work, friendships, self-care, etc. We at Family and Media would like to suggest you adding three “digital resolutions," or three behaviors related to our “virtual lives” that we can strive to implement this year. They are as follows:
1) Every day, try to read a book for the same amount of time you spend on social media — if not longer
Whether you’re looking to distract yourself, take a break, or catch your breath before getting back to work, who doesn't spend time scrolling on social media?
The internet is not only a useful tool, but it’s often seen as a pastime. We mindlessly scroll just to relax (so much so that usually, when we go on social media, we like to look at photos and read short stories, rather than engage in reading serious articles about current events or other important topics).
Without stigmatizing this habit, it’s still wise to keep it in check. We should try to keep the time we spend on the internet under control so that we can decrease excessive, senseless scrolling. We could then use that extra time to read an interesting book.
2) Have at least one smartphone-free day a month
Smartphone-free days shouldn’t be viewed as a time of feeling excluded from the rest of the world. Rather, they should be seen as an opportunity to spend quality time with family. There is an eminent risk of not being united with those in our household due to the distraction of our cell phones and being connected to dozens of other people except those in our homes.
We should pick a day (maybe during the weekend) to set our phones somewhere we can’t see them, since they seem to have a magnetic field around them that pull us in!
In our house, when we had the first smartphone free day, we did the math and realized that:
- on a phone-free day, household chores get done much quicker,
- we aren’t bored—on the contrary, we are more creatively stimulated
- we are more focused on our children (answering their questions, playing games together, analyzing their development)
- we are more inclined to find new things to talk about
- we laugh more
3) Converse with others more face-to-face or on the phone, rather than through texting or commenting on social media posts. Seek as much interaction with each other as possible.
Social networks tend to make us impulsive and not very thoughtful: the fact that we communicate through screens and not "face to face" can lead us to communicate differently than we would in-person . For example, what we might say to someone in-person might not be something we should say to them over the phone.
"Protected" by our smartphones or computers, we risk crossing boundaries that keep an interaction civil.
This can cause us to insult perfect strangers, make crude jokes, write cynical and intrusive comments that wouldn’t be permissible without the protection of the barrier of the screen.
The temptation to “flatten” important conversations through screens is, unfortunately, an increasingly more common phenomenon.
So, here's another resolution for this year: always think of social media users as real people. If they are people you know, try to meet with them in-person more often. Communicate clearly. Speak about things that actually matter. Encourage and praise others by not writing lazy, impersonal messages, but rather by meeting them in-person or at the very least, by making a phone call.
Let's give more depth to relationships and communication… they’re essential to a fulfilling life!