Is our online life ruining our happiness at home?

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I’m Mandie Spooner, I’m a mother, a wife and a nutritional therapist, I run my own growing business and keep our busy home on track, which is full of rowdy growing boys and one quieter grown man.

None of that makes me particularly unique by the way, there are many thousands of women just like me, balancing all the elements in our lives including some time to connect with the world outside of our immediate family, which can give us a sense of self and sanity, sometimes when it is most needed.

My businesses, my life even, like many peoples today, function to a great extent through connecting with people & systems online, I shop on line, I socialise online, I work online, I can’t work to my full capacity when I’m not online, I research and book events, I learn, I keep in touch, my parents and some of my siblings are overseas and I have wonderful friends all over the world and social media keeps us close. The digital lifestyle is here to stay, it’s a good thing and with the internet of things and artificial intelligence emerging, life is only going to get more connected, the problem though is we will be spending more time than we already do on our devices and less time connecting as humans with not only our children but our partners, our friends, family and even ourselves.

So as with most things my solution, a little moderation is a really useful approach. I’m not suggesting to cut online activity completely but just moderate it, everything in balance. There is a limit to how much connectivity is really actually good for us and those immediately around us, and that’s why I introduced my own digital detox because I became out of balance with my phone, social media the internet and the time and attention that I spent there.

I recognised that a more immediate and human connection was needed in my family which was being missed due to my attention to my devices, and what was going on “outside the family” So, I decided to do something about it. I introduced the digital detox into my life and it’s been a really liberating and heart warming success.

My digital detox commits me Monday to Friday to down my devices completely for three and a half hours a day, after school until the kid’s bed time. I spend the time focused on the kids by being present and being available for them. At the weekends I don’t put my devices down for a set period however I consciously dedicate quality time and attention where and when it’s most needed and wanted. We always do something as a family at the weekend, even if its cuddled up on the sofa watching a movie together.

My experience has been amazing, my kids tell me they feel really good about this change, they get the attention they deserve and need, and I give them the engagement they were missing. I regret that I have missed some special moments, and I love being more present in their afternoons and weekend.

I haven’t abstained completely and I also encourage my kids and husband to use technology and access it responsibly. Many of my friends expressed an interest in what I was doing, so I’ve set up a non judgmental Facebook group [and no the Irony isn’t lost on me] to support people who recognise this trend in their life, where they are engrossed in twitter, Facebook, email, or other social or work related screen time, when in fact they would benefit from stepping away, and focusing on the family instead.

None of us is perfect, and from time to time a little help and some understanding can assist people to make huge and rewarding changes for themselves and those around them. Some articles in my local paper and online have created quite a buzz and I’m incredibly proud to have just over 600 people in the group, helping each other out and supporting their own digital detoxes. They only need do what is right for them, and like any problem behaviour, the first step is acknowledging there is a problem.

I hope the group I have set up helps those who have joined to find the courage and the strength they need to say “I’m making a change for the better” and to get support from likeminded individuals.

There have been some pretty negative comments online, and that’s fair enough, people are entitled to their opinion, I imagine that kind of thing could be off putting to some people trying to wean themselves off devices and a connected lifestyle that isn’t serving them. I hope no one is discouraged.

Specifically on the home front, I have a much better relationship with my boys now, because I am there and present and they get the attention they deserve, I feel better about myself and all that good feeling, well it compounds if you like, the good keeps getting better.

This article was written by Mandy Spooner and was published on Ten Eyewitness News.

 

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