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Devices Events and Life Wellbeing

Screen time for kids during a pandemic

Back when we were in a “normal” routine, our kids’ screen time was pretty limited during the week. We only permitted them to use their phones and computers for school-related tasks during the week.

On weekends, they could play (there’s a limit on the Nintendo Switch, mostly as an experiment) for as long as their phone batteries lasted (well, that was the idea, it becomes meaningless when their phones last all day ).

Our kids would go out to meet their friends at parks, or at their friends’ homes.

Since our kids were basically confined to our home, and couldn’t see their friends in person, we basically lifted the screen time limits. The way I think about it is that they tend to play games with their friends, so this is the new “go out and play with your friends” time.

I noticed that Clint Edwards shared a post about a similar issue recently, and I agree with him, here:

I don’t know if I’ve ever been happier about online gaming, something only a pandemic could make me say. My son’s pretty social, and being away from his friends has been really hard on him. I usually hate gaming and we normally have serious restrictions on screen time. But right now it is keeping him inside and giving him a social outlet, and that’s made this whole ordeal easier on everyone.

Let Them Watch Screens – No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog

The challenge, now, is that I still want our kids to focus on what passes for their distance classes in the mornings. We expect them to stick to “normal” school days, finishing around the time they’d finish if they were at school.

I work from my usual space at our dining room, and they work in their bedrooms, so it’s difficult to keep a close eye on whether they’re actually focused on their studies.

Still, as Clint points out, a little extra screen time creeping in at the edges isn’t a calamity –

Listen y’all, we are going to get through this. I know it. But the last thing I think we should all be worried about is limiting screen time right now.

Let Them Watch Screens – No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Categories
Mindsets Social Web

Thoughts about being off Facebook

I just read Cheri Baker’s post titled “Eight months without Facebook” that touches on my unformed thoughts about being on Facebook.

When I spent a lot of time on sites like FB and Insta, I developed the habit of stereotyping people based on what they shared. I’d unconsciously tell myself that so-and-so is all about being a parent, and my other friend is super career-minded, and yet another friend is a world traveler. Our digital projections can become so strong that we don’t really see our friends (in all their complexity) any longer. And when that happens, it seems difficult to get beneath the surface.

I believe relationships take time. Conversations. Support. An investment in one another. And in that regard, getting off Facebook acted as a sorting mechanism. I found the answer to: Who will make time to hang out? For me that’s a small group, but a treasured one. And sure, it can feel lonely while you look for your people in the flesh-and-blood world. But it gets easier the more you invest in your relationships.

 Cheri Baker

I’m still undecided about Facebook, despite being especially enthusiastic about it in the past. There’s still more value having a Facebook profile than not, at least for me. My family and friends use it fairly heavily, so removing myself from Facebook tends to amount to me removing myself from those circles, to varying degrees.

As Cheri pointed out, stepping away from Facebook only really works if you put in the effort to remain connected to your friends and family. I’ve fallen short here. I tend to become pretty caught up in my day-to-day life with my wife, and our kids, and I forget to reach out to the rest of my family and friends.

If anything, Facebook probably masked my tendency to withdraw by default. The odd thing is that I don’t really consider myself an introvert. Perhaps that is something for me to focus on going forward – reconnecting, and rebuilding relationships that were artificially supported by Facebook.

unsplash-logoFeatured image by Thought Catalog
Categories
Social Web

Facebook really has become the primary social space online. Stepping out of Facebook is like going on a retreat in some distant land with no link to the rest of the world.

Categories
Events and Life Mindsets People

The key to a better quality Facebook News Feed

I much prefer this approach to friending people on Facebook to the more cynical friends-as-followers-to-pitch-to approach. A more select group of Facebook friends is far more meaningful than thousands of “friends” who are just people you connect to because connecting is less meaningful than it could be. Yes, Facebook uses our data to target ads but a better quality group of Facebook friends also translates into a better quality Facebook News Feed which is why we use Facebook in the first place, isn’t it?

Categories
Social Web

Path is the better personal network you've been waiting for

Path – Share Life from Path on Vimeo.

Path doesn’t have Facebook’s users or nearly as much public awareness and yet it is, by far, a superior personal network. For many people, Path is the social network they were hoping Facebook would be and isn’t.

I know a few friends and family who are apprehensive about Facebook and either use it reluctantly or skip it altogether. If they use it, it’s generally because their friends and family members are using Facebook to share stuff not because they see it as a meaningful way to keep in touch with the people they care most about. The problem is that Facebook is optimised for publicity and this makes a lot of people nervous because they could wake up one day and discover that Facebook made a change that exposes more of their data than they are comfortable with. It’s happened many times before.

On the other hand, Path is designed for a very personal, private experience. It is fundamentally different because of its emphasis on a more personal and meaningful experience. When people talk about any social network they almost inevitably compare it with Facebook and, given Path’s relatively tiny userbase, Path is frequently dismissed as Dave Morin’s wishful thinking. That is also a really superficial perception.

We essentially pay for our Facebook access using our personal information (demographics, preferences and connections) which Facebook uses to personalise ads we are inundated with in Facebook. That works better if we spend more time using Facebook and, in the process, giving Facebook more signals about which ads to present is with and which friends to associate with brands so we’d be more likely to click on pages and ads.

Because Path is not ad supported like Facebook, there is no need to persuade users to share anything publicly. Instead, Path is designed for privacy. Your default is to share with your connections who are preferably real friends and family members. The idea with the 150 connection limit in Path is to encourage users to focus on more meaningful and personal connections unlike on Facebook where users are constantly prompted to add more “Friends” whose value is ultimately sell more valuable ads.

When it comes to Path, having 20 connections is perfect if those 20 connections represent your real friends and family members who you most want to share your life’s moments with. Consider how many Facebook “Friends” you have. How many of those Facebook Friends would you regard as real friends? Is Facebook really a personal network or is its appeal its inertia?

Sure, Path’s utility to you is still dependent on whether the people you most want to connect with are Path users and that is likely to be the reason why most people will stick with Facebook with its overbearing ads and changing publicity settings.

It may be possible to improve your Facebook experience by trimming your list of friends and brands you follow. You should also see more updates from your Friends if you sort them into individual lists and check in with those lists (Google+ handles these lists far better with its Circles) but if you want a simple and beautiful way to share meaningfully, perhaps you should take a closer look at Path. Better yet, install it and try it out for a while. It may be what you’ve been waiting for.

Categories
Social Web

I use Facebook for more than birthdays and stalking

I come across a lot of people who tend to use Facebook more to stalk people they meet or to check who is having a birthday today. I do that stuff but I have been using Facebook as my primary online social space for a while now and it is a terrific tool for me. While Google+ gives users the ability to share selectively, very few of my friends and family are using it so it’s a very limited option for me. With the exception of a couple family members who are still concerned about Facebook’s privacy controls (I think their privacy is probably better protected on Facebook that out and about in their neighbourhoods), my family and friends are all on Facebook and use it fairly actively.

Most of the stuff I share on Facebook is invisible to the public and to a number of people who I have friended but remain on a restricted list. Facebook is where I share details of my life with my kids, wife, family generally and friends and I took a decision to only share that more personal stuff with people who I have met, am friendly with and would invite to my kids’ birthday parties. I’ve set my Instagram stream up to be private by default and when I publish to Facebook from Instagram, it goes to “Friends” by default. In fact, “Friends only” is my profile default.

Everyone else can see my public updates and, in that sense, I treat Facebook like Twitter. My public updates are posts I am happy to share with anyone who can see them just as my tweets are. I don’t understand why anyone would use Twitter as their primary social network. To me, Twitter is the online equivalent of standing in a crowded room shouting over everyone else in an attempt to maintain a coherent conversation. Photos and stuff you shared may as well be Polaroid prints you pass around the room to people you know and don’t know. Some people are public by default, I prefer to be more selective with who gets to see my more personal stuff (although what I regard as personal may not fall within your definition). With all Facebook’s efforts to get us to share more publicly in the past, selective sharing is what Facebook is good for and perhaps what it is really intended to be used for.

The people who I friend and assign to my restricted list tend to be people I have met and know on some level but they may be business contacts or people I just don’t know very well. If I don’t friend someone or refuse a friend request, it is generally because I just don’t know the person beyond a passing familiarity with the person online. I similarly don’t accept Foursquare connection requests from random people or people I don’t know well enough to feel comfortable disclosing my locations. Facebook, in many ways, mirrors my life generally. It’s more meaningful to me because of that.

I’m not quite sure why I felt the need to publish this post. I suppose one reason is to present another perspective on Facebook as a user who does more than stalk people and check birthdays (Facebook is awesome for birthdays!). As more of our lives is online, it is really important to have a space where we can share selectively if we choose to. If Facebook fell away, that space may be Google+ or whatever comes next. Path is also an interesting option although not all that compelling alongside Facebook. Path may be a preview of what may be coming in the years to come but, for now, it’s tough to beat Facebook. At least, for me.