I read an interesting article yesterday via the BBC about internet usage/computer time and the link with depression; it led to my thinking a lot about internet usage in general and how it can either help or hinder the simple life.
I currently use the internet more frequently than ever before, partly because when job searching you not only use the internet to search for positions, but to submit applications. This has probably increased my internet usage twofold over the last couple of weeks and it is something I am very much looking forward to finishing!
For pleasure, I use the internet pretty much for updating this blog, checking in on my blog friends and communicating with friends who are not local (about 95% of my friends). I’m not on any forums or groups, don’t really blog surf (I maybe find one new blog a month almost always through someone commenting here), and my facebook page has been updated maybe 6 or 8 times (and not at all in the last six weeks!). I do enjoy both listening to my two favourite radio programs through the wonders of the world wide web and reading some of my favourite political magazine or newspapers, but usually this is limited to one day a week for an hour or so. Apart from that, it is email, I send a daily email(s) to my good friend Michelle (and her daily emails back brighten my day!), I probably send another 4-6 emails to friends worldwide each day (not the same friends each day, Michelle is pretty much the only constant daily email receiver!) and maybe an email to a blog friend, or a response to a question. In total, I would imagine I currently spend about 2 hours a day on the internet, one in the morning and one in the evening. Since I’m not working this is more than typical, but not over the top or in any way preventing my enjoying activities, volunteering, learning new skills or socializing.
When I had the children staying with me, I had a routine of spending the first 45 minutes after they’d gone to bed online – I wasn’t blogging then so it was mostly emails. After that it was dishes, cleaning, bills paying etc. I didn’t ever go online in the morning because getting children up, fed & ready for school and myself ready for work 5 days a week did not yield any am down time.
I would like to get into the habit of having a complete media fast one day a week, making sure that day I don’t watch tv or go online. I think I’ll wait until I’m gainfully employed before adding in that little change to the routine, but it is one of the goals I’m working towards.
For me the internet is a brilliant tool to connect with people with similar values and interests to myself, it is a medium for learning new skills and being encouraged to try something I hadn’t thought of before! But I also feel that the simple life, for me, includes some self-control when it comes to the internet and I certainly notice the difference when I am online too much. Time unplugged enjoying nature, craft, cooking, music, my violin and in conversation is also what my soul needs and deserves. It’s a delicate balance, but one well worth the effort, especially when you are in the middle of plan sparkle
How do you balance computer time with family time? Do you find your computer time gets in the way of everything else? How much is right for you?