Sunday, September 25, 2011

Screen Free Week Reflections

I have been a fan of Screen Free Week since I heard about it.  Even before I heard of the official week, it was a popular negative consequence in our home.  

I used to enforce unofficial screen free weeks at our house regularly when I saw my kid's behaviors turn toward selfishness, fighting, and whininess.  Turning off the tv and video games help.  Maybe it's because the screen activities wind up their brains.  Maybe it's because it is "down" time and they need active time.  Maybe because I was guilty of using the tv as a babysitter so I could get my own things done, yet the kids needed time with me.  There are many more maybes, but all I know is that turning off the tv and video games seems to always help.  I get a bunch of complaints at the beginning of the week, but by the end of the week the kids are in a new habit of finding things to do without electronics.  It's fun. We all get along better.

This Screen Free Week I realized that it is harder than ever though.  Not for the kids, but for me.  I can never get off computers completely.  We use electronic records at my office.  I use the internet to search for information related to my job.  Those are allowable uses, since electronics for work and school are exceptions to turning off the screen.  Computers are simply a part of our life.

We are all relatively new to all the opportunities for wasting time on tv (remember when there were just a couple channels?) and internet offerings.  We are plugged in from our computers and our Smart Phones.  We get a lot of work done and learn information on these Screens.  When can we unplug? How do we learn to manage our time?

This week I was going to at least stay off Facebook, since that is mostly fun stuff that I share with patient families. Work related, yes.  Necessary, no.  I feel that by posting to Facebook it encourages others to look at Facebook.  Facebook is a huge time waster for many. (And yes, this is from someone who is totally addicted to facebook... I spend quite a bit of time searching around on it to scope great things to share!) A great reason to turn off the screen for a week!  

But then I need to reevaluate the "Necessary, no."  What is necessary?  I still had to look at Facebook to be sure the office page was not being abused with posts that were inappropriate.  Most things I post are not timely.  There are some recalls that are important, but not really imperative to share NOW.

But there were several things that happened in this one week that Social Media could really benefit.   Where do you draw the line of staying off Social Media and when does it become "work" so it is excluded?

We did post two things to our wall that did seem to meet the criteria of important and timely.  One was a request from the Health Department to spread the word about an outbreak.  Why is this important?  Because 8 people in Kansas have been sick and 2 have died.  Warn people: good.  But then to see it, people are checking their Facebook posts: bad.  Such a slippery slope!

The second post was about our own office's access.  We were not warned that our parking lot was to be resurfaced.  Staff arrived to work and found the whole thing blocked with no access to our main door (until we convinced them it was unacceptable during office hours).  Yikes!  How to spread the word quickly?  Yes, we can call the patients with appointments and tell them where to park, but what about walk ins?  Facebook is fast.  It can be helpful!  But we told people to stay away for the week.  Sigh.  Just can't win!

A third post that didn't end up getting posted because it is a bit hazier in importance and timeliness.  We have promised that when we open flu clinic appointments we will share on our website and Facebook page.  Of course we were able to secure a couple dates during this Free Week.  We posted to the website, since people always use that for health matters, not "fun".  We sent out an email to registered website users.  But we didn't post immediately to Facebook, again to encourage people to stay off Social Media for the week.  But Facebook isn't purely Social.  It is used to share information in a way that wasn't possible years ago.  (No worries for those of you who haven't signed up yet... there will be plenty of time to sign up!) 

Other posts that aren't timely were easy.  Save for later.  I am using a scheduling system that schedules posts, so I don't have to post daily.  That is helping manage my time on Facebook.  I still have to look daily to check on posts, but it does help with time management.

I think that is where the secret lies.
We all need to learn time management with the Screens.  What is important? What are time wasters?  Time wasters aren't always bad.  It can be great to vege in front of the tv after a long day and just relax without any bothers.  It is fun to catch up on what friends are up to on Social Media.  It can save time if you have exciting news and post once for all your friends and family to see (less personal than a phone call or visit, but faster!)

We need balance.
We need to make time for family, faith, exercise, healthy family meals, and sleep.  Cutting out those important things in life to waste more time in front of the screen simply is dangerous.

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