Have you ever gone through a serious spring cleaning routine? There’s nothing quite like getting rid of a bunch of stuff you don’t need that’s just taking up space in your home. Even if you work in an office, cleaning up your desk can make you feel much happier and more productive.
Social networks can help improve our lives, but they can also easily become additional stressors and potentially exacerbate symptoms of anxiety or depression. In this article, I will post some of tips that can help you develop healthier, more balanced habits, protect your kids and their mental health, and make using social networks a positive force rather than a negative one.
For most of us as well as for our children, some thorough spring cleaning online can help to reduce stress levels big-time. Let me explain!
How Does Social Media Make You Feel?
While there is certainly some benefits to keeping in touch with friends through social media, the overwhelming sense for most of us is an unfulfilled desire to keep up with our feeds! Today, social media allows us to get daily updates from our friends, see what’s going on in the lives of our favorite celebrities, and check out the travel photos of our colleagues in a matter of seconds.
Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter or any other social network, they’re designed to keep you active on their site for as long as possible. As such there’s no end to the feed, no point at which you can consider yourself finished. So it follows that the basic human need in many of us to finish what we’ve started can never be satisfied.
It’s no accident that so many of us are constantly checking our phones to see what we’ve missed, even if they’re not beeping at us. There’s no doubt that trying to keep on top of the information bombarding us on these sites can be stressful. And for children and teenagers especially, the fear of missing out is a powerful force adding to the stress of feeling like they need to read every message and see every image that comes their way.
Our Ideal For Social Media Changes
For most of us, whether we’re adults or children, when we first start using social media our aim is to get as many friends as possible. Most children place great value on how many friends they have online – the more online friends they have, the more popular they must be, and the more accepted they feel. One of the real issues with social media being such a large part of our children’s lives is that many children use it as a way to measure their self-worth.
There are several problems with children wanting to have lots of friends online.
Firstly, it makes them more likely to accept friend requests from people they may not even know, and especially may not know enough to trust. This leads to sharing too much information with the wrong kinds of people who can misuse it to make your child’s life a misery.
Secondly, it means that posts their friends share with them may be seen by more people, ie “friends of friends”. This can put not only your child but also their friends in a precarious position.
Thirdly, and this is the problem we’re talking about here, more friends means more information to wade through on timelines. And that means more time spent online, as well as a lot more stress trying to ensure you don’t miss seeing key messages from your friends. For some this is just hard work at a time where they really should just be having fun and doing whatever it takes to reduce stress!
Deleting Or Unfollowing Friends To Reduce Stress
This may seem like a simple concept, but most of us, again both kids and adults, feel uncomfortable deleting friends online. We feel like it’s a bit rude and we don’t want to upset anyone or get on their bad side.
However here’s the thing. If we’ve accepted friend requests from people we don’t know that well, or don’t have much to do with, we’ve taken on a higher level of stress in keeping up than need be. And of course we CAN do something about that!
Helping your children go through their friends on Snapchat and Instagram, and questioning whether they’re actually good friends or not, is a very worthwhile exercise. Ask your children if they would have been online friends with each person if they hadn’t been concerned about looking and feeling popular by having lots of friends online. And if the answer is a no, that person should simply be unfollowed.
Read also: 10 Things I Learned When I Gave Up Facebook
Give your smartphone a break and turn off social media notifications, so you can choose when you want to check social media. It’s all about taking back control and not letting social networks tell you what to do. If this is too stressful you can set a day off.
It’s okay and even advisable to do this! I call this process spring cleaning online and it’s a wonderful and effective way to reduce stress levels. And once you’ve done it once, it will be easier to do it again and again if need be.
Read also: Natural Remedies For Stress and Anxiety
Where YOU Come Into This
It’s highly unlikely that your children will naturally think to delete some of their online friends, other than maybe those who have shared nasty comments or those they’ve had an argument with. Children don’t want to look like they’re unpopular online, so they may need your help and encouragement when it’s time for them to do some spring cleaning online.
One way to motivate your children to have less friends online is to give them a set amount of time to use social media each day. The less friends they have, the more likely they’ll be to see the messages they want to see from the friends they care about.
Most older teenagers understand the stress involved in keeping up with social media, and many say they’d be happier if social media was not a part of their lives. However tweens and younger teens don’t yet feel this way and may need more encouragement to friend and follow less people online.
Reduce Stress And Enjoy Life More By Spring Cleaning Online
The less time your children spend on social media, the more time they have to do other things. It really is that simple. Whether that means seeing friends face-to-face, playing sport, doing homework, practicing music or any number of other possible extra-curricular activities, this can only be a positive thing.
Spring cleaning online on an ongoing basis will leave your children feeling less pressured to keep up with the daily activities of more people through their Instagram and Snapchat feeds. It will feel like a weight being lifted off their shoulders that really doesn’t need to be there. Not only will it help to reduce stress, it will allow them to spend more time doing the things they love. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain – so what are you waiting for?!