Social Media, Internet Addiction, and Screen Time

A week ago, I signed into Facebook for the last time. After a quick glance at my timeline and blog page, I headed to the settings so that I could delete my account.

The deletion link was accompanied by some words of warning. Had I considered how important social media is? How will I connect with the people who are most important to me without the aid of Facebook? You see, social media is an essential part of modern life.

The warning didn’t slow me down. I know exactly how I’m going to connect with the most important people in my life. I’m going to look them in the eye. I’ll listen to their words as they share their thoughts and ideas and dreams.  I’ll wrap my arms around them, as I breathe in all the joy of being a wife and mother. Without Facebook, I’m going to live a more focused offline life.

In this week’s podcast, I tell the story of how I’m disentangling myself from the Internet and taking back control of my life.

In episode 105, I’m pondering:

  • Real life: Is my offline life being affected by my online activities?
  • Facebook: Do we need to be on social media?
  • The Internet: Is it addictive? Why do many adults have trouble using it in a sensible way? Does the Internet fulfil needs we’re not really aware of?
  • Deep Work: Does the Internet affect our ability to concentrate and do valuable work?
  • Our children: Do we worry about our kids spending lots of time online because of our own experiences? Will all our kids be able to handle unlimited access to the Internet?

I also share some news of a new series of Facebook Livestreamed videos that might be of interest to parents and teenage girls.

Show Notes


Deep Work by Cal Newport


Episode 87: The Catholic Radical Unschool Cheese and Other Stories

Girls’ Issues and Interests: Live Streamed Videos

Imogen’s Facebook Page

If you’d like to know when we’ll be live streaming on Facebook, please ‘like’ Imogen’s page so you’ll hear all the latest news.

Interesting Articles about the Internet and Related Issues

What is ‘Brain Hacking’? Tech Insiders on Why You Should Care

Elon Musk Launches Neuralink, a Venture to Merge the Human Brain with AI

Are We Going to Allow Smartphones to Destroy a Generation?

The Web Shatters Focus, Rewires Brains

Podcast Music

Twombly by Podington Bear(CC BY-NC 3.0)

There are both advantages and disadvantages to being on Facebook. For you, do the negatives outweigh the positives? Or is it the other way around? And are you interested in discussing issues that affect our teenage and young adult daughters? Will you tune into our FB live streamed videos?

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    • Venisa
    • August 28, 2017

    Another great podcast Sue! Great points. 💕 Miss seeing you on Facebook though!

    1. Reply


      I’m glad we can still keep in touch via email now that I’m no longer on Facebook. Thank you for listening to this week’s podcast!

  1. Reply

    I almost left a comment on your previous post a couple of days ago to ask how your changes were working out when this one popped into my email.

    This was an interesting podcast in many ways. I haven’t read the book you mentioned, but I agree that the internet has impacted my ability to focus and think deeply. I find myself clicking off long articles rather quickly because I lose interest.

    Have you seen this article by Cal Newport?

    1. Reply


      That was an excellent article by Cal Newport. Thanks for sharing the link!

      Yes, I have trouble finishing articles too. I do a lot of skimming but don’t read deeply. Since I’ve been spending less time online, I’ve been reading more books. I got excited yesterday when I discovered some interesting books on my shelf that I’d forgotten about. I’m going to make a stack of them next to my favourite sofa. I shall enjoy reading them!

      Thank you for stopping by. It’s good to exchange thoughts on this topic!

    • Anna
    • August 29, 2017

    I know a couple people who work in college campus ministry and they’ve noted how very different the dorm environment is now. No one is looking up while walking the halls, no one is talking to the other residents in person, every resident is glued to his/her phone. They’ve said it’s very hard to break that habit and try to get people to interact in person.
    We have a good priest friend who is assigned to a seminary; he switched from a smartphone to a flip phone because he said it was a formation issue he needed to model for his seminarians. He needs them to learn to walk into his office and ask a question, not just text; to learn to have a conversation while looking him in the eye and not checking their phones. Because you can’t be a good priest in the confessional, at marriage prep, at the side of the dying, if you keep glancing phone-ward.
    I have a dumb phone and I’m not on any social media, but I still have that urge to check blogs, see if anyone answered my comments, etc. But it’s way easier to manage if I put my laptop in a slightly inaccessible place; that way I can pull it out if I really need to look up directions or something like that, but it’s not sitting there as my easy default mode.

    1. Reply

      Anna – That is a fascinating anecdote about your priest friend.

    2. Reply


      Thank you so much for sharing the story about your priest friend. It made me ponder how our example affects other people. Do our kids copy our behaviour? If we’d like them to have a sensible and balanced approach to phones and the Internet do we have to display that behaviour ourselves rather than make rules for them? Do we have to talk about these things? Lots of questions I’m thinking about!

      “…you can’t be a good priest in the confessional, at marriage prep, at the side of the dying, if you keep glancing phone-ward.” That is such a powerful image. I guess the same principle applies to being a good parent.

      I’ve only had a smartphone for about 6 months. In most ways, I wish I’d stuck with it. Text messaging is much faster with my iPhone but I could do without everything else.

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences!

        • Anna
        • September 2, 2017

        I was glad to read the links you shared; I’ve read “The Shallows” but that article you linked about specific companies like Dopamine Labs was fascinating – how they look at the way people respond to different things like a bunch of “likes” at once and do more of what they see keeps people online longer. I notice things like how my younger kids will ask about sidebar ads that I didn’t see at all because I’m more practiced at filtering that noise out – but I can’t notice what is going on behind the scenes and you can’t defend against something you don’t know exists or can’t block.

        My husband works in military software development and some of what he’s told me about the newer guys and their ideas of how the tools should look (and how much their military users hate it) make me aware of web design and how it’s used to sell ads. Military-use pages don’t have ads, of course, but the new designers have been taught a bunch of page set-up standards (without, apparently, having been told why this is the new standard) that are clearly designed to make your eye fall on all the “extras” instead of on just the content you’re looking for. Which is why the military users hate it because they can’t just glance and get the info they need.

        1. Reply


          It’s very worrying how our online behaviour is being manipulated. I worry about how much online companies know about us. Your comment about sidebar ads reminds me of how I keep seeing ads for things I’ve viewed on different sites. If I don’t buy the products the first time I see them, maybe I will after being reminded of them as I’m browsing the Internet. I suspect my conversations have been picked up by various sites too. I’ve seen ads for things I’ve only spoken about with my family. It’s very scary. I’ve checked my phone mic settings to make sure it’s as secure as possible.

          Thank you for sharing the story about web design page set-up standards. I will be looking at web pages and how they are set out with new eyes!

    • Linda
    • August 30, 2017

    Sue, I have been listening to your podcast off and on for a little over a year, I think. I’ve even delved into many of the older episodes. Though unschooling resonates deeply with me, I have experienced periods of insecurity about this choice. Your podcast offers me reassurance and for that I am so grateful. I appreciate your honesty and humility, and I am inspired by your courage to try things. It’s difficult for me to express just how much your work means to me. Thank you so much for sharing your stories.

    1. Reply


      I’m so glad my podcast offers you reassurance despite me sharing our lows as well as highs. I sometimes wonder if I put people off unschooling by not painting a rosy picture 100% of the time. But maybe we have to talk about the worries and our struggles in order to face and work through them. Life isn’t perfect so occasionally there will be times when we wonder if we’re on the right pathway. We need to keep trusting. Everything always works out.

      I must admit that I often feel I have said everything and it’s time to move on from my blog and podcast. Your kind feedback encourages me to keep going. Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by to write this beautiful comment.

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