By Tracey Matthews Wynter, Supervisor of the Knox County Schools Family and Community Engagement Department
Tweets, posts, tags, likes, pins, chats, PMs and snaps…just a few terms that describe how connected we have become in the 21st Century, but do we know how to disconnect in order to spend quality time with others? Is social media actually making us more anti-social? Is it time for a “digital detox?”
Social media and networking sites are playing an increasingly important role in our lives, especially with young people. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry states that children age 13-17 spend at least two hours a day on social networking sites, and more than 60 percent of these teenagers have at least one “profile” on social media. Additionally, according to a recent Pew Research Center report, 57 percent of teenagers have met a new friend online. Social media and online gameplay are the most common digital venues for meeting friends.
What happened to the good old days of sharing the “gift” of time with those with whom we are closest? I know, I know…everyone is incredibly busy these days. Considering how technology has made our lives more automated and fast, we should actually have more time today than we’ve ever had in the past. Take, for example, the concept of a “drive-thru.” Now, there are not only drive-thru restaurants, but drive-thru car washes, drive-thru markets, and even drive-thru zoos and wedding chapels. In Los Angeles, the Robert L. Adams Mortuary offers “drive-thru viewing” and displays the deceased in a glass window where loved ones can pay their respects from the street. The Kocian Law Group in Connecticut offers drive-thru legal advice, and in Houston, Texas the Succeed in Life Center offers advice and prayers from a drive-thru window! This phenomenon is happening in many places so clearly, time is not the issue. Making quality time for others, is.
Personally Reconnecting With Those We Love
Step 1: List all optional activities in which you make time to enjoy (e.g., going to a movie theater, watching television, going out to dinner, surfing your social media pages or the Internet, reading for pleasure, listening to music, going shopping for fun, etc.).
Step 2: Next to that list, list the virtual “friends” with whom you would like to more personally connect or reconnect.
Step 3: Once a week, perhaps, intentionally plan to exchange one of your optional activities for personally connecting with a significant friend or loved one with whom you have primarily relied on social media to maintain your relationship.
Alternatives to Social Media
Send an actual letter or card (rather than an e-card), and include phrases such as, “I made time for you. You are very important to me.” Send a few, and maybe start with those serving in the military.
Phone a friend – texting is great because we can go back and read messages as many times as we wish. However, hearing someone’s voice can be even more special.
Surprise friends by planning a personal visit or make arrangements to spend quality time together.
When friends are ill or in the hospital, actually go and visit them and take a card, flowers or crossword puzzles to show your concern.
Take a small batch of baked good to your friends and neighbors who are not users of social media
QualityTime is a relatively new app for Android smartphones that helps manage your “digital diet.” It allows the user to monitor and get real time reports on how much time is spent on your smartphone, whether it be social media or other favorite apps. It tracks total usage, screen unlocks and individual apps with hourly, daily and weekly summary reporting options. Users will have the ability to curb habits by setting up time restrictions such as alerts, the “take-a-break” function and scheduled breaks.
Am I bashing social media networks? Not at all! Social media is one of the best connection tools we have on the planet. We should use social media to enhance the personal relationships we already have…not replace them.
Please share your success stories, related tips, and/or topic suggestions for future articles by contacting Mrs. Tracey Matthews Wynter, Knox County Schools Family and Community Engagement Department Supervisor, 865-594-9525, email@example.com. For more information and resources available to Knox County Schools’ students and families, please visit us online at knoxschools.org/fce.
FAMILY RESOURCE CENTER’S RESOURCE OF
Coats for The Cold
Coats for the Cold is an annual community drive to collect thousands of coats for those in need in our communities. The 2015 distribution date is Saturday, December 5 at Knox Area Rescue Ministries (KARM) Stores Clearance Center, 4302 Asheville Highway (in the Holston Shopping Center). If you would like to “give back” after receiving a coat, KARM will need volunteers to help pack up the remaining coats on December 7th and 8th. Visit karm.org , select “Get Involved,” and then “Events,” for more details!
For additional local resources, contact Mrs. Tamekia Jackson, Knox County Schools Family Resource Center Director, firstname.lastname@example.org, 865-594-1192.
Tracey Matthews currently serves as Knox County Schools’ District-wide Family and Community Engagement Supervisor. In this position, Tracey has been entrusted with the responsibility to facilitate the district’s course toward building stronger and lasting partnerships between families, schools, and the community. For more information, please visit the Family and Community Engagement at knoxschools.org.