As parents we are so often told to be a good role model where screen time is concerned and spend less time on our own phones and devices.  We are our kids strongest role model plus we all know we ARE less available when we are glued to the phone!
We are also constantly reminded not to go on social media late at night, early in the morning or too much in general as it can have a negative effect on our emotional and physical well-being. Now we know this is good advice, but if we ARE always on our phones while we are with our kids it’s natural that they might start feeling second best, and also they will no doubt start modelling our behaviour!
But here’s the thing, as adults it is up to us to be responsible for what is right and wrong for us. It’s up to us to get the balance right. And sometimes it might not have a negative effect on us but be the exact opposite. Sometimes it is just what we need right now and that is OK. Of course it’s not great if we are glued to the phone at all hours and become less available for our family. But if we can monitor it in a healthy way, making meaningful connections, this can be a valuable part of looking after our own adult needs.
For instance, I support lots of separated parents and I know that many of them, especially those with younger children, find evenings particularly lonely. And I know for them it can really help to have some “outside contact” when they are feeling a bit low. It’s OK to reach out to a good friend and say ‘hi’ by text, chat over whatsapp and share your day, or connect with a Facebook group of like minded people.
But it’s NOT OK if it makes us sad, stressed and even more down if we get sucked into negative thoughts. If we start feeling like others are happier than us, or having so much more fun, that is usually a downward spiral! So be mindful where and how you connect, and check in with yourself regularly on how you are feeling as you interact with tech and social media.
Be careful who you share your private feelings with too, sometimes we do want to have a moan or a vent but this is best done with true close friends. While blurting over social media can be tempting at times it can backfire! Find a few core friends who you know are happy to offer you a safe space and a non judgemental ear if you do want to send a ranty text, or have a vent over email. This can save you from saying something publicly or to one specific person that you might later regret.
Another nice thing you can do is just send a positive message out to someone you know. Try sharing a fun image, a meaningful quote, a book or movie recommendation, or just send a “thinking of you” text if you find you are feeling a bit isolated or low. If you know local businesses give them a recommendation, share a nice experience or just send a thank you message! You may be surprised at the positives that come from that.
It’s great to get off the tech totally from time to time, but for most of us being connected online is a huge and normal part of daily life. So let’s just stay aware of our interactions and feelings and work on making healthy connections so we remain in a positive space in our virtual world as well as the “real world”.

Good luck

Mette Theilmann

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