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Mamas & Blogs & Facebook: is it too much?

When we started urbanMamas almost 5 years ago, I was mama to just a teeny little babe who would wake me up at all hours of the night.  After a feeding at 2am, I would sneak downstairs, open up the computer, and check out the feeds I'd read.  I'd devour the stories, gobble them all up along with a middle-of-the-night snack.  Thank goodness Facebook wasn't around then.  I may have never slept.

Through time, I realized it wasn't terribly healthy to be crawling out of bed and catching up on mama blogroll, as it would keep me up for 1-2-3 hours during prime sleeping time.  I went through a period when I forced myself to stay in bed.  I had to resist the urge, that pull into the blogosphere vortex. 

Now that the kids are older, I am on a much more regulated sleep schedule, but I am still drawn to catch up with friends on Facebook or to check out what's the haps on urbanMamas and other favorite mama conversational sites.  I know I'm not the only one!  An urbanMama recently emailed:

I am hooked on Facebook.  I check it 3-4 times a day and love reading updates, new photos, posting status updates and commenting on my friends' walls.  I can't help it, I feel so connected to people miles and miles away.

I also check my blog rounds throughout the day during my breaks from school, our toddler, and all of our responsibilities. I like being a part of these social networks and forum like discussions but I feel like I am contributing to a society more in touch with ourselves, and less in touch with each other.

How do I moderate this habit?  Any suggestions that have worked for you?  When I am not around a computer I am more creative; and when I talk to friends and hang out with them it is so much more fulfilling than messaging or writing comments on their blog or wall.

Is our generation going through a change of communication, what's going on?  How do I balance traditional social etiquette and lifestyle while being modern, wireless, and digital?

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The fact that I am commenting on this post soon after it went up demonstrates that I, too, have the same problem! My addiction is fed by the fact that I work mostly on my computer, and I work *all the time* (a problem in itself), so I'm constantly giving myself little email/FB/blog breaks/treats. I've tried to set boundaries for myself in the past (restricting checking these sites to just certain times of the day), but I never stick to them for long. SO I have no advice, just commiseration! I'll look forward to hearing what others have to say.

I love facebook! It's a fast and easy way for me to keep in touch with friends that I wouldn't otherwise have the time to talk to...and to keep in touch with all my mom friends who have different naptime schedules. And I've done some networking with old friends from college, too! That said, I think Twitter put me over the edge...I haven't found any benefit to that whatsoever!

I work on the computer a lot, and so I'm constantly tempted to check FB and other sites. I just have a rule to only check certain times of day, and I have at least one day a week (usually Sunday) where I never turn on the darned computer...and it's a great feeling!

Between parenthood and working at home, my life felt pretty isolated for a while after my daughter was born. I so wish I had had facebook and urbanmamas back then! I struggled a lot, especially when my daughter was still an infant and in the months before she was born that I spent on bedrest, with feeling banished from my own life and totally unconnected from the big world of other people. Having said that, I've certainly had to place self-imposed limits to my cyber-socializing and make a concerted effort to connect with people face to face and on the phone as much as possible. The internet does not (nor should it) take the place of actual friend time.

I admit...i'm addicted to these things too! I keep a blog, check facebook more than enough times each day (my kids as me if i'm "facebookin' again"), read others blogs, to the point that I feel like I know them personally.
No advice from me as to how to monitor it, but I can totally relate.

I, too, am totally addicted BUT I have noticed that when we go out of town or have something major to work on for two-three or four days, I find myself so refreshed my next normal day by not jumping back into check-this-site mode. So, I amd TRYING to only log on every other day or so. Its hard!

I am painfully shy. I dread speaking on the phone and I'm terrified of playdates. The thought of hanging out with another parent who I don't know can put me over the edge (why can't more playdates be scheduled around cocktail hour?). So communicating with old friends and new ones via the internet is my cup of tea. It allows me to feel connected, less socially awkward, and a contributing member of society. And just yesterday my daughter was talking about broken bones. My husband immediately brought up a picture of an x-ray. The perfect teaching moment.

I have the same "problem" and mostly I think its in moderation, but maybe shutting the computer off for Turnoff Week (April 20 - 26) will give us some much needed perspective and remind us of some other things that may have fallen to the wayside.
I'm certainly thinking about participating.

I love the idea of cocktail hour playdates, by the way!

I have resisted joining Facebook so far and these comments are firming my resolve to keep it that way.

Facebook wasn't a problem for me until I installed it on my BlackBerry and then I found myself checking all the time! We use it to keep up with friends and family and to post pictures and updates about our two-year old. Both my mother and mother-in-law are on Facebook as are all of our siblings and most cousins. I try and limit when I check it now and with the weather getting nicer, can see myself checking it less and less. :)

Hi, my name is @runpdx and I am a social media addict. BUT I consider it a healthy addiction -- does that mean I'm still in denial? I am, by nature, very conversational and social but over the years (and with each child and add'l work responsibility) my time to socialize had dwindled to occasional emails or vmail exchanges. FB and Twitter gives me the opportunity to not only socialize with known friends but to expand my net and "meet" new folks based on common interests.

Admitedly, I spent a significant time on FB when I initially joined -- I think I was making up for lost time. So my social life is virtual but the support I've received (and hopefully provided) is incredible. As for Twitter, well you have to adopt CPA: Continuous Partial Attention (http://snurl.com/g1cwh). ;)

Yep, I'm hooked too. Mostly FB, uM and a few other mama blogs but I check several times throughout the day when the boys are eating lunch or playing quietly for a minute or two. I rarely spend more than 10 minutes in one sitting, but could probably cut down drastically on the number of times I check per day... But, it's fun! It's my mind candy, and overall, I think it's pretty harmless...most of the time my boys are not being neglected so that I can read the latest discussion on uM! :) uM was an invaluable tool for me when I moved to a new city with a little baby--I made friends here, got the scoop on all things family in PDX, and learned a lot about improving my family's lifestyle and health. FB has just been fun--I've caught up with friends we made in previous cities, old friends from Highschool and college, and my family checks up on us there too. We still leave the house everyday, we're fully dressed by the time Papa comes home from work, the boys have regular playdates and trips to the park, and there's food in the pantry...no harm done! I'm not letting too much mama guilt in for this one...

LOL this post came on the same day I was wondering how to set FB as my homepage.

I agree, it makes me feel so much closer to my friends whether they live across town or across the country.

I love the internet and use it to keep me close to family everywhere - different countries, different states. I have reconnected with a handful of past friend/colleagues, college friends, and a few high school friends.

I do A LOT of computer work and am on the 'puter all the time.

BUT, I hate when my girls say "you're always on the computer." So, a while back, I decided not to open up my computer at home. I fit in work and blog/Facebook dilly-dallying during the workday. When I get home, I leave the computer in my bag, unless the girls are in bed and my partner is out for the evening. On weekends, I don't open up the computer at all (which is part of why Weekend Warriors is the only post up from Friday through Monday morning!).

This isn't to say I'm not on my phone. I use the phone to field emails. And, on Sunday night, I use the phone to clear out my personal email box so it isn't filled ot the max on Monday morning. But, I'll take about 10-15 minutes to do that.

I love uM, FB, and a few other blogs. But, I don't want my children to feel like I'm choosing the internet over them. So, I've created these self-imposed rules.

I really like Briana's comment about participating in Turnoff Week. I think I may suggest that the adults in our household participate along with the kids.

I'm also on the computer a lot, but what pushed me over the edge was actually starting my own blog. Despite the fact that it brings my family no income, it is something I enjoy doing so much that I'm constantly thinking about what to write about next. It started as a way to keep in touch with friends and family while we were living in France for a time, but has turned into a major part of my life.

Facebook, to me, is fun but not a huge time suck. And Twitter -- I check it but, as another poster said, I just don't get the appeal.

Twitter is what has pushed me to the edge. I got hooked on blogs the same as the original poster, while endlessly nursing and needing to feel connected. Plus, I like to think that reading good blogs can help make mine less of a drag to my poor family that has to wade through it to see baby photos.
went through the Facebook addiction, mellowed out from that and am now all about twitter. If I had an iphone or blackberry, I would never get anything done.
I do only catch up on all that stuff at night, once the baby is down. But it keeps me up so late sometimes, and I don't end up taking care of the house either...
I am finding it kind of goes in waves. The more stressful work, the more I just want to read blogs. I guess it's my version of TV watching.
Speaking of, gotta go catch a show on Hulu...

My 3 year old has been known to say, "Mommy stop checking your facebook!" It's a wake up call, but as a single mom and the only adult in the household FB has been a remarkable tool to make me feel less isolated at home. I do check at work as a reward for finishing paperwork. The big time sucker is Scrabble on FB. I am playing usually 5-6 games at a time, and when I log on to FB it's usually my turn on about 2-3 of them. It's hard to put it off. But I do find my bedtime drifting little bits later each week and this is not good. I would love to do more productive things during my "non-mom time" after the kid is in bed. I have started knitting hats. Not sure if this is more productive, or even better on my eyes! ;)

yeah, i too have this problem. and i have presented the "endless nursing" situation for my son too, who is 2 now. i have a laptop and i still worry a little bit about the radiation...which is why im checking my email now at 10:48pm without him. i find that when i curb my FB, blog, email time i feel much better.

i have gotten in the habit of waking up and going in the hot tub for a soak, or just having a cup of tea. makes me feel SO much better than immediately flipping open the laptop.

also with gardening season increasing, i realize having warm sun and cool breezes on my bare skin is A THOUSAND times better than knowing what my high school buddies ate for breakfast, right?! i mean we all really only need to check FB once a week to know the gist of it, if we focus on those people that are important to us. and its better for my son to get fresh air and dig his fingers in the dirt and grass than knowing what its like to be lulled to sleep next to a machine.

When I was a new mom 4+ years ago, and didn't know a single other stay-at-home mom, my sanity was saved by the internet. I made So Many new friends on mothering.commune that turned into real life friends and regular playdates.

Years later I've left MDC behind and keep up with friends via facebook several times a day. It's the perfect medium for distracted moms (unable to have a phone conversation without a thousand interruptions).

I've given up reading other people's blogs; they made me feel either inadequate (damn she's crafty and talented!), or depressed (does that woman even *like* her kids?). I update our personal blog with photos and captions only, since it's only intended for long-distance family.

This is an interesting discussion. Personally, I do feel that our society is heading in an obsessive direction with social networking, etc. Although, I do enjoy using Facebook (which I have jokingly named EgoBook), I find myself wondering how in the world some people seem to have SO.MUCH.TIME to write updates and comments multiple times a day, everyday. Twitter, to me, seems a bit over the top (there, I said it) and nothing that I would want to spend my time on...it truly makes me sad at times to see people who feel the need to post about every.single.thing.they.are.doing.all.the.time. How do they have time to live their lives and enjoy the day? Why do they feel the need to post all the time?

All this said, I feel that this increase in social networking via technology is completely reflective of many aspects of our society that are lacking--one of these being a true (not electronic) sense of community and face-to-face interaction.

The truth is, though, that these things can take time, and technology can be a quick path to feeling "more connected" which is a human need. I think this is a good, healthy discussion and will make several of us look at the amount of time we choose to spend/waste on the computer or not...as I find that I, too, feel much more creative and energetic when I don't spend so much time on the computer.

I like to joke FB is the "black hold of time suck" and I can get drawn in for hours. Admittedly I have connected with friends I haven't seen in 20 years and it's delightful seeing the pics, reading their updates, etc.....but, I have to limit to 3 or 4 times per week. I am happier when I'm actually reading a book!

I find that Real Life is always better than the virtual, but I do believe Facebook is providing me with real, closer relationships. I live thousands of miles from many friends and family. We're many of us on different time schedules, and the ability to pop off a quick status update or comment gives us the chance to be in each other minds, if not in each other's presence.
Would I prefer to talk to my cousins or friends face to face? Absolutely.
On personal take, I skim FB-- devoting maybe five minutes here and there over the course of a 14 hour day. The kids don't see me taking too much time at it, and I can respond to them when they ask for attention.
And they get to learn patience while I ask them for the time to finish my post.
:)

I'm too addicted to find time to respond to this in between reading my Twitter stream ;) I, too, have adopted much of my Twitter behavior as something to do during boring conference calls (which are now booted from my life along with my job) and connect w/virtual colleagues and far-distant friends. I have one Twitter account (outed as someone with multiple Twitter accounts, eek!) that I just use as a writing exercise. and, as I'm a writer, I often use Twitter to come up with writing ideas. sometimes conversations I have on Twitter or Facebook will turn into develop into blog posts and I'll make some money out of it. but honestly: having Twitter is the perfect outlet for my constant internal monologue, my desperate desire to *tell someone* what I'm thinking, and as the circumstances of my life right now make it hard for me to spend a lot of time with friends outside the home (and I have no office), it relieves that need.

one thing I've done to limit the effect this has on my kids is to make it a rule to, almost always, listen to their advice and close my computer if they ask me too, or if the youngest starts hitting it closed. ok, step away sarah...

and as christine says, gardening is a great way to pull away from technology -- it's also a wonderful way to find that community in your neighborhood instead of online. every time I get out in my yard, I end up striking up a conversation with someone who's walking by, or have a neighbor stop by for a visit, or come up with some brilliant new idea for how I'm going to make my life simpler and more physically connected. I've also got to put a good word in for walking and riding your bike rather than driving; lots of opportunity to connect with your children away from technology and to just "be" in the world with them. (and it's hard, though not impossible, to Twitter while you're riding a bike.)

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