The downside to being socially switched on…all the time

The cyber world and the advancements in technology have resulted in many changes to the way we connect with others. Whilst many of the changes have meant greater ease and access to our connections, we know too, that our kids are susceptible to some of the downfalls. One of which, I believe, is the need to be ‘switched on’ socially……all the time.

With a vast majority of our kids’ socialising occurring online via social networks, it would seem that this constant contact allows for very little downtime. Very little time to ‘not care’ what they are doing or saying, who they are hanging out with, or what they are listening to or watching. The popularity of portable devices means that even late at night, early in the morning and at any time of the day, there is very little time to unwind and just ‘be’.  Much of what they do is shared. And much of what they do appears to need validation. You only need to follow a few teenagers on Instagram to see the constant requests to “like me, follow me, click if you think I’m pretty, smart, funny, cool or if you are my “bestie”. These kids are not wanting ‘likers’ and ‘followers’ to fulfil any corporate marketing strategy. It is just followers for followers sake. Or for stats. Or for status. Or too look popular.

For a good majority of the time these requests are harmless. Just a bit of banter between friends and followers. Kids have always wanted to ‘ft in’, be popular and be liked. For those young people that place real self worth on everything that happens online however, it can have more disastrous consequences. For the person that asks “am I pretty?” only to be told “no”, or to the teen that has no response to a request for ‘likers’, the damage can be devastating. The need to appeal to people they hardly know and possibly don’t know at all, can be completely disproportionate to the validation they could get from those that are real and active participants in their lives.

And this is not a problem that is isolated to young people. I have seen many adults become disheartened and even depressed about the lack of interaction with something they have said online.

People who lament that noone talks to them on twitter start believing they are boring or worthless.

It is so important to build our sense of self offline. We need to encourage our kids participation with friendship, sporting or community groups that build their self worth based on real life interaction and achievements. Whilst the online world is where a good majority of their socialising is done, it must not be the sole source of their connections.


Share this post

Like this article? Sign up to our email newsletter and never miss a post.

This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. Me

    I couldn’t agree with you more – what a great post !!!
    I am trying really hard to cut back on the amount of time I ‘socialise’ on twitter/blogs/FB and try to spend more time being present with my husband instead of just sitting next to him while he watches something on TV and I am busy chatting to friends.
    Have the best week !

    1. Martine

      I am pretty sure you re not alone there!

  2. kirri

    This is so true Martine and as you pointed out – it relates to adults as well as kids and young people.

    If I think about my own online interactions and perceptions – the times when I have felt vulnerable posting something on FB, wondering if it will be ‘liked’ or supported – it can really do your head in!

    Most of the time I am able to let it fall away, but I can easily imagine how much more challenging that has to be for kids.

    Thought provoking as always

    1. Martine

      So true Kirri, especially for those kids that already have self esteem issues.

  3. Kylie

    Great post Marty. Online socialising is fast becoming the way of the world & as a mum of 3 young kids, this worries me greatly. I feel we are losing the ability to communicate & interact with people face to face. The basic life skill of communication is so important on so many levels, but quite often a screen & a keyboard can result in words or comments being misinterpreted. I feel that we need to take a step back, switch off technology & start focusing & giving our full attention to those right in front of us.

    …I write this from my laptop, while sitting on the couch next to my husband while he watches tv!!!!!!
    Time to shut down!!

    1. Martine

      So true Kylie. I guess it is all about balance. We are never going to switch off entirely from the technology, so we need to make sure we role model some balance in our lives and let our kids see that we are able to devote our time and socialising to real life people and pursuits.

  4. Janet Dubac

    What an awesome post! I agree with every word you said here. Aside from the obvious reason that the internet has a lot in it that can poison the minds of our children, I keep internet usage to the minimum so that they can experience and enjoy the life of being a kid. I only let them use the internet if it is really needed and if there is someone watching over them. Oh! Me and my husband are of no exception. We are exercising this rule as well. 🙂

    1. Martine

      Thanks Janet, and even better that you are role modelling the behaviours you want to see in your kids.

  5. Rhianna

    Great post, so much truth in it. Our school is a technology learning school so an iPad is made available to each child in years 7 and 8. The year 9 students have a notebook. While they do still use paper for taking notes etc, work is also submitted electronically. It really is a digital age and as lovely as that is in many ways it is also very confronting to see them all sitting there scrolling through Instagram. Facebook is banned but other types of social media are alive and well and it is worrying at times.

    Fairy wishes and butterfly kisses #teamIBOT

    1. Martine

      And interesting that they only ban Facebook when we know how many other social networking sites kids are using.

  6. Have just posted today about how I really need to get on top of our out of control Internet situation at home. Including time spent online. You might want to pop over and leave me some tips 🙂

    1. Martine

      Thanks Rachel, heading on over 🙂

  7. Min @ MinsMash

    Totally agree with you. Luckily my kids (young adults) don’t seem to spend too much time on social media, however I have concerns with how long one particular 20 year old son spends playing on-line games on his computer!! I caught him the other night still up at 4:30am!! I have told him my thoughts on the matter and if it doesnt resolve we will be disconnecting the internet access when we go to bed at night. With regards to social media – as a blogger I need to engage in it. However, I do find it can totally drain me….and at times I have been affected by lack of response (for example no comments on something I post on FB). I have learned though – to not let it affect me. I do what I need to do and then I get off. If I get a response – great. If not – so be it. Time out from social media (and in fact the computer!!) is definately needed by me. I do not want too much time on social media to affect my actual living (IRL)! I think this is a real concern for this generation!

    1. Martine

      It is a concern and so is 4.30 am…but not an uncommon problem to see. Again it is about having that ability to switch off, which needs to start early. And again whilst we as adults (some adults) may have the ability to not let it affect us, we know this is much harder for kids trying to find their place in the world. And you are correct in pointing out that when it starts affecting our real lives, then it is time to change our online behaviours.

  8. Winnie @ Bubfriendly

    Can’t agree more!!! Technology is something we can’t avoid and it will undoubtedly be a very important and valuable part in our kids lives! Having said that, so are play dates, parties and person to person interaction which in some ways are far more important ways of socialising and character building – I will always have that in mind for the little one!

    1. Martine

      Thanks Winnie, and yes we certainly need to nurture all the skills to be socially responsible both online and off.

  9. Matthew Mancino

    You are so right about this.
    My children are young, 4 & 2 and we are very conscious of how much screen time they have watching movies or Sesame Street.

    My wife and I set the example by practicing “No Tech Tuesdays”

    Remember to look children in the eyes and talk with them.

    Keep up the good work.

Comments are closed.