Turning Off - and Tuning In

Wednesday, March 20, 2019
In a recent vlog I shared with my children, ZDoggMD shared his thoughts about anxiety and depression in children and one part in particular sticks with me. This was my takeaway:

When we were growing up, we dealt with peer pressure and bullying in school, but once we got home, it was done - we were in a safe place. With social media on their smart phones, today's generation (girls in particular) and surrounded by this pressure 24 hours a day.

I never thought about it that way - did you?

When I think about kids and smart phones, I am more concerned with photos being taken in bathrooms and locker rooms, or possibly cheating on a test or being distracted by a text from home. I didn't think about the increase in anxiety and depression which is leading to an increase in suicides.

Now this information is out there, and I feel we are obligated to do something about it. Each family has to decide what the magic age is. We also need to decide if our children need phones or smart phones - being able to reach an adult is one thing, but having complete access to social media is (or should be) a separate issue altogether. I feel the first thing we should do though is think back to the profound thought about a safe place. Do we set an example with this? Do we come home from work and step away from the bombardment of social media, emails, text messages, etc...?

I struggle with this. Do you? 

If the constant connection is causing increased anxiety and depression in our children - could it be doing the same thing to us as adults? The way I see it, there's two separate issues going on with this:

"Keeping up with the Jones's" - The example in the video refers to knowing about a party and seeing photos and fun but knowing you weren't invited. This exact scenario happens to adults. We look at the photos and comments from our circle of friends and acquaintances and it would appear they have more time for vacations, more money for new furniture, they are eating at the most posh restaurants, attending the latest concerts and sporting events, and suddenly we aren't as satisfied with our family game night, our minivan, and a quiet walk in the woods.

"Tuning Out" - If we are tuned in to our smart phone, our emails, our instagram, the snapchat, the latest youtube video, etc... we aren't tuned in to what is right in front of us. We are setting a poor example for those around us, but even more important, we are sending a loud message that all of that "stuff" is important. If we are constantly on our phones we are sending the message:

The important stuff is happening in the virtual world.

Let that sink in for a little bit. We can rationalize all we want about doing work to pay the bills, or checking in at the office, but at the end of the day, those people who matter most are seeing less an less of our eyes and our smile as we concentrate on that screen.

What can we do to be the change we wish to see in the world? What can we do to help those around us feel important?

Let's start by turning off our devices and tuning in. You don't have to spend the entire weekend holding hands and singing songs around a campfire while your emails pile up in your inbox - let's start small. Consider turning off your phone during meals. I've found it helpful to be intentional about it. When we sit down for a meal, I'll turn my phone off and throw it on the charger while announcing "you guys get my undivided attention - my phone is off until after lunchtime" and my older children roll their eyes, but deep down I like to think they appreciate the lack of distraction.

How do you turn off and tune in with your friends and family? What's worked for you? Do you turn off while you're writing so you can concentrate? Why or why not?

Crystal is a secretary, council secretary, and musician at her church, birth mother and auntie, babywearing cloth diapering mama (aka crunchy mama), business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Publicist with Dream of Things Publishing, Press Corp teammate for the DairyGirl Network, Unicorn Mom Ambassador, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and their five youngest children (Carmen 11, Andre 10, Breccan 5, Delphine 3, and baby Eudora who somehow turned 1 already), two dogs, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal riding unicorns, taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary, blogging, reading, reviewing, and baking here and at her personal blog - Crystal is dedicated to turning life's lemons into lemonade!


Nicole Pyles said...

I remember at my last job, I had work email attached to my personal phone. Oh I hated it and even removed it after a while because it was added anxiety to my day! I think turning off social media and electronics is so important with engaging people around us and also with helping our writing! I have been writing on my phone a lot at night lately and having the discipline to not look at alerts and all that is discipline.

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