Wednesday, April 10, 2013

You're not addicted to the Internet.

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As the Internet grows and grows and grows, women are forced to make decisions about daily routines that our mothers never did... 

When do we check our email, or write blog posts?
Is it fair to be on our phones in front of our children?
Are we too accessible to bosses and work obligations?
What does it look like to balance real-life with Internet life?

These questions usually promote healthy discussions, which I applaud. Chances are, you'll see us hashing this idea out on the Influence forums on any given day. In fact, several of us moms sat in a circle at last year's conference to discuss this very topic. Over the years, though, I've come across a few dangerous ideas that I feel I must address when I talk with women on this.

Media tells us how to limit screen time and what it means to be addicted to the Internet. Women use phrases like I shouldn't be on my computer when my kids are in the room, or they deserve my undivided attention when describing the role of a stay-at-home mom.

Maybe it's the fact that I work full-time, in addition to maintaining an online presence and mothering a family. Maybe it's my multi-tasking busy-bee nature, my personality that makes me feel defensive when the topic comes up. Whatever it is, I'm shaking my head at this tension. I don't like it.

We can agree to disagree, but I'm waging war on the idea that the online and the real-life cannot exist in harmony. They can and they do in my house, and nobody suffers.

As I type this, my husband is propped up at the other end of the couch, text messaging fellow church staff from his iPhone and lining things up for Sunday from his laptop. Our homeschooler is upstairs finishing his work, since we spent the morning at the park. The three babies are napping, and dinner is prepped because we got it ready right after lunch.

On days that I work or my husband has meetings all day, the routine might look a little different. The point is that we don't have a rule about computer time, or iPhone time, or pretty much anything. We just make it work. Day by day. Situation by situation.

Ladies, will you please join me in leaving the phrases to those who honestly struggle? You're not addicted to the Internet because you check in throughout the day, from work or home. You're not failing your kids because you engage your social media accounts in their presence. Shop owner, businesswoman, or plain old Pinterest peruser... your online life doesn't need to be crammed into a tiny, back-burner box of time and effort.

This is 2013, y'all. We are a generation of women learning to make the online and the real-life exist in harmony. Don't worry, we know when to stop.

Like right now. My kids are waking up.

23 comments:

  1. You have a way with words...and it's great!

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    1. Such the encourager. Soaking it up!

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  2. Thank you so much for this post! I've been really struggling with this. Feeling like my little boy (18 months) watches too much tv and I spend too long on internet/phone things. It was reading this post and thinking about it that made me realise I'm not doing it wrong! I'm doing it right 'for my family'. A really important definition I've found hard to make for my sons entire life. I spend too much time worrying what the other mums I know do and how I don't measure up. So thank you. I needed to hear this today. :-)

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    1. Doing what you feel is working for YOUR family is one of the most freeing pieces of advice any woman can pass to another! Live on, sister!

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  3. Oh, I agree so so much! I hate those kinds of phrases too! The internet isn't going anywhere, so our kids may as well see us use it - and even, maybe, be part of it with us when appropriate. Like, my daughter and I will browse facebook photos together and talk about our friends and family and what is happening with them...

    Also, WHY do we think children need our undivided attention? They don't! The world doesn't revolve around them! I think it's unhealthy to make them believe that it does. Plus, they need time on their own to develop their imaginations and problem solving skills.

    Making it work for your family, that's what it's all about!

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    1. There's so much to be discussed on the kid topic! I loved the book "Bringing up Bebe" by Pam Druckerman... the French seem to have it down to a science. Intriguing, to say the least!

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  4. You know, I used to agree when I was spending a lot more time on the internet. Now that I have a new job that requires me to be out of the house and unplugged for most of the day/weeks, I feel differently, and really do believe that most of us are addicted to the internet, and that it isn't healthy. Not trying to be a spoil-sport, just to share that I used to feel the same way you do, but honestly think now that it was in defense of myself because now I feel MUCH more free and able to use the internet without it using me. Just my two cents, darlin' :-) Glad you're able to find YOUR balance, that's what we ALL need!! Yay!

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    1. I like what Hayley and Jessi have been creating for themselves and families with their "analog time." Definitely a cool way to force yourself some freedom from technology, for sure!

      I work full-time out of the house, too, but I still have to find regular (almost daily) time for the online stuff because it's part of my calling (and income) as well... to each her own, and I appreciate your honesty!

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  5. What an interesting topic! In the end, I think it's all about balance and making sure we stay intentional in our online lives. The Internet is a great thing; I couldn't run my business without it. But at the same time, I know I have a habit of checking my e-mail and Facebook "just one more time" when I should be having quality conversation with my husband or simply unwinding from the day. For me personally, I know that if I didn't set boundaries for myself (for example, never having a phone that gives me Internet access), I would become tied to the Internet in an unhealthy way.

    At the same time, though, I think it's important for kids today to be technologically literate. Knowing how to use the Internet wisely and balance your real life with your online life is something I think we should be teaching our kids. If we have screen time limits that are too strict, they won't be learning how to use this resource in a positive way. But I've also seen way too many moms dragging their young, overtired kids through a department store and throwing them an iPhone to make them stop crying, which is absolutely not ok. Again, it comes down to balance.

    Rachael, in the example you give here, you're lucky enough to have your whole family at home for the entire day (though I'm sure that's not how it is all the time). That's a rarity for many women. I know I would feel much less guilty about my Internet time if my husband were home all day, but since he's not, I need to make the most of the time I'm able to spend with him in the evenings by really being present with him. Unless we're actively discussing something we saw online, that usually means the computer is off.

    Like Natalie mentioned in her comment, once you spend time fully unplugged, it's incredible how free you feel. I'm only able to have that feeling a few times a year at our family cabin, but I cherish it, and I feel so refreshed when I get home. I think each one of us needs to exercise wisdom as we determine what's best for us as individuals and within our families.

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    1. All of this, yes!

      And I totally acknowledge my example was a perfect and rare day. We aren't home together most days. We're usually trading off work schedules because we don't do daycare or preschool. My point is to encourage the moms who feel like they can't spend time on the Internet during the day because of children or at night because of spouse time. There has to be some screen time/down time/work time for us somewhere, right?

      And please, take me to your cabin.

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    2. I totally get where you're coming from! And I agree that it's important for us to have our healthy online time. You're right: it's not ok for women to feel guilty every time we try to have some screen time for ourselves! And if you're ever in MN, we love visitors at the cabin :)

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  6. Well put...though I admit I've never said those things. I feel balanced and my child (and husband) is happy. Maybe it's the ones saying it who really are...................

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    1. The women with whom I've discussed this are often first-time moms... since this isn't a topic they can exactly go to their moms with, it's often something that pops up as they think out loud. Make sense? Regardless, I love that you feel a peace about the balance you've found. That's all I ever look for, too!

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  7. I love having the freedom to create the balance. There are days where I absolutely need to be online to accomplish certain business tasks, it's becoming the norm for business all over the world. You can barely get a "live" person when calling large businesses now with automation and direction to check "our web site."

    Addiction to anything has more to do with not being able to get through normal daily functions--when you do anything so long that you forget to brush your teeth, shower, comb your hair, eat (you get what I mean), then it's time to regroup and reassess the situation. The internet unlike other addictive things is a tool.

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  8. I agree completely! I work from home on a freelance basis while my babies nap, so I'm always feeling guilty for looking at my phone when an email pops in during playtime. But I try to remind myself that I wouldn't even be there with them, fulltime, if it wasn't for the ability to work from home via technology.

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    1. Hey, that's a cool way to think about it! Thanks!

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  9. Amen to that! I totally agree. I know when I was little my mom didn't sit around catering to my every whim and staring into my little face. She may not have had the internet but there were a myriad of other things that needed her attention and that was ok. We are human beings and that means that we are multi-dimensional, not flat paper cut outs of people. We all have things that call for our attention, whether that is making dinner or responding to an email, it's just part of the life that we live in our current day. Honestly, I'm thankful for all the ways that we have to connect today. I think the important thing is that we aren't sacrificing personal, real relationships and real people who need us to "surf the net" all day. While my little one naps in the afternoon I love catching up on blogs that I read (like this one) and emails. Thanks for being honest about this!

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  10. Amen!!! Thank you for speaking on this!!!!

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  11. I just wrote a blog, similar. I love this!

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  12. I think this is a fantastic article! But I personally do struggle with finding the balance. For me though, I think the struggle is more about the instantaneous gratification that can be found on my iPhone. Rocking the baby to sleep? Browse Pinterest. Waiting for water to boil? Check Facebook. I could go on ... so I'm trying to find THAT specific balance. It's not so much about the internet; it's more that my phone is ALWAYS with me and always providing entertainment should I want it. I challenged readers on my blog to have a social-media-free weekend, and I loved it! I felt like I could breathe and collect my thoughts! It's certainly an interesting topic no matter how you dice it. Thanks for addressing it!

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  13. I'm thankful for all the ways that we have to connect today. I think the important thing is that we aren't sacrificing personal,

    Anemometer

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  14. As a parent that has a subscription to an Australian internet service provider, I am responsible for guiding my kids to prevent internet addiction.

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  15. Thank you so much for this post! I've been truly battling with this. Sensing that my son (year and a half) watches a lot of television and I spend an excessively long time on internet/phone things. It was understanding this post and considering it that made me understand I'm not doing it off! I'm doing it right 'for my crew'. A truly paramount definition I've discovered hard to make for my children whole life. I invest an excessive amount of time stressing what the different mums I know do and how I don't measure up.

    addicted to the internet

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