It is very difficult to admit to oneself when a bad habit has developed. It takes a certain level of self-awareness to even recognize when something you are doing is having a negative impact on your life, let alone to do something about it. I recently came to realize that I have a bad habit when it comes to my constant use of the internet.
Not only do I have a computer, but I recently got my first smart phone, something I had avoided for a long time because I felt in unnecessary. With the new technology came an increase in temptation to simply pop online to check Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads…any of my favorite sites. It was easy to check it all before, but now I had access in my pocket, wherever I might be. A bad habit had become a worse one.
It wasn’t just that I was being distracted from my own tasks, I was also sending a message to Simon that the internet was a priority for his Mumma. Not something I want to role model, especially in a world that more and more tries to reel kids into the latest technology, and away from using their imaginations and learning from their surroundings. I also believe in and will espouse the value of setting limits for use of technology, but was not living up to my own convictions. So, after thinking it over a bit, and admitting to myself that my internet habit was interfering with my ability to be in the moment and to find motivation, I realized I had to break it.
I talked to my husband about it, because he has the same bad habit. He agreed we needed to work on it. So we came up with a new rule: No internet until Simon is in bed. This means no frivolous browsing on either our computers or our phones while he is around. The acceptable exceptions would be things like checking the bank account balance or paying a bill, looking up how to get somewhere, finding a recipe, etc. Otherwise, there is no reason why it cannot wait until after the child is in bed.
The new rule has been in place for about a week now, and we have both broken it a couple of times. The other day, while Simon ran around in the yard to play, and I sat on the deck with my iced coffee, I popped onto facebook. Today he actually took a nap and I decided to hop online for a few minutes. So, I still need to work on it, but even those times when I did break the rule, it was when Simon was not around me. And overall, I have been successful at staying away from the temptation to just pop on needlessly.
The thing is, we think we are more connected when we use the internet. And yes, in some ways we are. For example, I have friends and acquaintances that I communicate with exclusively on the internet. However, the reality is, spending time online takes us away from the connectedness that comes from being where we are, in the real world, with the people who are there. What is happening right now will change from moment to fleeting moment, but the internet will still be waiting for me when and if I do decide to surf at the end of the day. The messages don’t care what time I check them, the blog posts and articles won’t disappear if they aren’t read immediately.
The internet–social media in particular–is addicting. But giving up the addiction and setting healthy boundaries is much more rewarding.