Are You a #SocialMedia Addict

Category: Weekly Columns


Let’s start with the definition of addict (from ad·dict noun
~~ A person who is addicted to an activity, habit, or substance: a drug addict. Okay, that seems simple enough. I’m addicted to many things, thankfully none of them all that harmful. They include skiing, my kids, writing, eating, and maybe, just maybe Social Media.

Here are some questions for you and me:

1. How often a day do you check your various Social Media accounts? For example, Twitter, Facebook, comments on your blog, Pinterest, Google +, etc.
2. Do you have a day off from “doing” Social Media?
3. When on vacation, do you make sure wherever you go has Internet access?
4. Will you pay for Wi-Fi on a plane?
5. Will you pay for Wi-Fi anywhere?
6. Do you pay for Wi-Fi via a mobile provider so you have a connection with you wherever you go?
7. Have you tried to go cold turkey for any period of time? And, if so, how did that work for you?
8. What does your family say?
9. Do you check your Social Media in bed?
10. How much time do you spend on your Social Media per day?

Okay, there are a good ten questions. On reviewing them, I think I will take the 5th and only answer some, but out of order and context. Herewith my answers,
Yes, No, Maybe, Twice, Of course, 14, 52, Are you kidding?

Now, your turn!

Everything in life is about balance, isn’t it? As a parent, the balancing act often becomes more challenging. Work, spouse, kids, play, other relatives, religion, exercise, diet, are all things we juggle. It’s said that the average person watches an inordinate amount of television every day. That is a choice the average person makes. I watch perhaps 2-4 hours of television a week. Every member of my family exceeds that amount by many multiples.

Yet, they say I spend too much time on my computer. Hmmm, double standard?

Another question not on the list above relates directly to parenting and it’s one I’ve asked myself and consequently adjusted my behavior. I work at home so when my boys come into my home office, I’m usually working. The question I asked myself was do I put aside that work to pay attention to my boys when they come in to see me? The answer was a decidedly mixed one of, “sometimes.” I don’t like that answer and I’m now working towards, ALL THE TIME. There’s little that I do that can’t wait and there’s precious little time I have left with my boys at home, with one off to college in the fall and the other finishing his freshman year in high school.

Nothing I do – work-wise – is more important than those moments with my boys. Heck, even my dogs come into my office and want attention. I always stop and give them a little and then gently push them towards the doggie bed I put next to my desk.

My work is Social Media so the distinction between work and play is not completely clear, especially to my family. They see me “at work” and see me smiling, laughing, and talking to myself. It sure doesn’t look like work to them. But, if I were working at an outside office, what would be the difference? Simply, that when they wanted to see me, they’d have to wait until I got home!

If you’re a parent, are you spending quantity or quality time with your children? As you may know, I believe the only kind of time a parent should spend with their children is quantity time. In fact, I believe there is no such thing as quality time.

The other BIG issue, for parents, is how much time they allow their children to be on their “screens.” Think about how many screens are available to our kids: cell-phones, television, computer, portable games, X-Box and Wii, etc. How much time do your kids spend on screens versus spend outside? My suggestion is that children should be accountable for their time in the same way I’m asking YOU to be accountable for your time in Social Media.

The simplest fix is to require at least equal time doing things IRL (in real life) as time spent on a screen. Even better would be higher ratio of time in real life vs. screen time. In our home, television viewing was not allowed at all on school days and limited on weekends, when the boys were young. Plus, the ONLY television we had was, in essence, a monitor. We had no cable or satellite so the only things my boys watched were DVDs that I approved. Please consider these suggestions to get your children outside, off the tube, and doing more with their lives!

Ask yourself all these questions? What are your priorities? Is there balance in your life? Is there a balance in your children’s lives?

  • Brian Vickery

    Great post, Bruce. I do check social media entirely too often…pretty much plugged in through some device from about 7am – 10pm. I check more infrequently during the weekend. Maybe 2-3 times on Saturday (unless reading a lot of 12 Most posts…then it is a loooong couple times because I like to honor the authors’ efforts with comments). I probably check a couple times on Sunday, also. I do tend to curate different content on the weekend (more personal and sports-related).

    I have rolled out of bed and scheduled a bunch of Triberr posts…guilty. I do check my accounts a couple times/day when vacationing stateside. When headed to Mexico (every couple of years), I go completely unplugged.

    I telecommuted, so my daughters understood the balance that I would always be available, and that I worked longer hours. I can stop in the morning to see them off to school, and I can stop in the afternoon to hear how their school day went. I can leave in the middle of the afternoon to go watch a sporting event, but I might be working in the evenings and weekends to make up the time.

    Luckily, we are a close-knit family that remains active, so we didn’t have to worry about compounding the issue by watching TV for several hours each night.

    • Bruce Sallan

      That was a quick comment, BV…not sure you answered the question though? lol…

      • Brian Vickery

        The simple answer is that I am not addicted to social media. It truly is just a means to an end for me. However, I have recognized that one of the ends tends to be developing some very solid relationships with folks I may never see…so that takes even more time because the lines are blurred between business and personal.

        Not addicted…still spend a lot of time on it…could quit tomorrow and become a tennis bum if I won the lottery (which will never happen because I understand the concept of lousy odds on winning). I do think I maintain a very healthy balance.

        • Bruce Sallan

          The definition of addiction includes does it disrupt your life. As I know you, that is most definitely NOT the case. You have balance in your life as we all should! Plus, I know you’re a great dad and husband!

          • Brian Vickery

            Thanks, Bruce. I would say “I try”, but really it just comes down to being there. If you are “there”, there is no try…just do 😉

  • Michael Q Todd

    lol lol you got me!

    • Bruce Sallan

      Not surprised…I got ME, also!

  • Sixty Second Parent

    The short answer is ‘yes’

    • Bruce Sallan

      I love honesty…btw, what is the long answer?

  • jetts31

    Totally wrestled with this as I became more addicted (yes, I’m admitting it).  I also asked myself the question, if I’m on social media or blogging about something, have I taken the time to be apart of whatever it is I’m sharing?
    I try to put away the phone/computer when my kids and I are doing something and comment/write about it later. I came to the realization a while ago that the people and situations I comment/write on are more important than the comments.

    • Bruce Sallan

      Isn’t half or more of the battle recognizing there may be a problem? Thx for sharing, Jimmy!

  • KelliSmithgall

     I often wonder how parents find the time to be on every social media platform, attend every twitter chat, etc., a gazillion times a day, every single day.

    So many people ‘talk’ about the importance of engaging, and being engaged social media-wise, and how it is so important. As I am learning, *yes* it is important. And I can totally see how it can be an addiction.  BUT,…how many parents are *truly* taking part in the act of engagement with their own children. How many parents are being truly honest deep down inside of themselves that their social media *addiction* isn’t taking over?

    Being a single mom of 4, it’s challenging enough to find balance in working, taking care of the home, being there in ALL ways for my kids, being there
    teaching/support-wise to my teen boys who do home independent study, and trying to fit in a social media routine.

    I’ve been given advice by several people that I should connect social media-wise during kids sports times, because a majority of my time is spent court-side at either a volleyball practice, game or tournament — all 4 of my children play year-round. I guess I could tweet/do Twitter chat parties/Google Plus/Facebook from their practices or tournaments. BUT, my children are appreciative that I’m *present* during those times, not just physically present, but *FULLY* present. As much as I’d like to be a part of every platform out there all of the time, there is just no way possible without giving my children TRUE *quantity time*.

    Healthy balance is definitely the key, but with the scales tipping way more towards the side of children/family 🙂  Social media in one way or another will be around for a very long time. My children won’t be.

    PS  – Thankfully, so far, my children have balance in their lives too.

    PSS – Love the images you chose for your post Bruce 🙂

    • Bruce Sallan

      LOVE this line of yours, Kelli, “Social media in one way or another will be around for a very long time. My children won’t be.”

  • Bridget Willard

    Some people have health conditions and social media has become a lifeline of human connection amid circumstances out of their control.

    • Bruce Sallan

      And for those people it is a wonderful blessing, Bridget!

      • Bridget Willard

        True. You do make valid points, though.

  • joecheray

    I wouldn’t say I am addicted. I would say that I get lost in information and research. It is part of my personality type INFJ. I do get times where I get burnout from getting sucked into the information. I have to force myself to unplug for a period of time.

    • Bruce Sallan

      Not to be disagreeable Joe, but if you have to FORCE yourself to unplug, wouldn’t you say that is sort of being addicted? I wrote this with a touch of tongue-in-cheek so don’t take this reply as anything snarky! Xoxo…

      • joecheray

        touche` Bruce 😛

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  • manvdadhood

    There are things that push us from curiosity to regular usage to addiction to waking up in a gutter with the Internet plugged into our necks. I was NOT a regular coffee drinker until I got a free coffee pot… Like Marajuana, the free “pot” was my gateway drug, and now I may have two cups of coffee before bed. I was curious about twitter and things until I started my MvD blog, not I am CONSTANTLY on something or monitoring a social media of some kind.

    If I had to, could I delete it all and say goodbye… Maybe, but not likely.

    • Bruce Sallan

      LOVE your candor, JB … as always, you say it like it is!

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