According to research, Moms spend hours a day online–an average of 2 hours, 15 minutes a day. They hardly ever leave the house without their cell phones. In some cases, they admit to spending more time online then cleaning, cooking or being with their kids.
Well this connected Mom decided it was time to shut down and turn off. I recently went to Paris and for a whole week, I didn’t tweet a single character. I didn’t write a blog article. (I usually write about two a week.) I turned my cell phone off–completely. I didn’t log on to the Internet even once. And there was free Internet access at the hotel. I didn’t check Facebook. I didn’t reply to LinkedIn messages. I went black.
The only communication I did was talk one-on-one with my daughter. Imagine a whole week of talking to my daughter and running around Paris together. And on top of it, imagine a whole week relating to your teenager. Scary, eh?
It was amazing. In fact, I highly recommend every Mom take their child on a solo-bonding trip. One of the complaints most kids have is they never get enough attention from their parents in this crazy tech-connected world. Parents are armed with Blackberries or iPhones, always in hand, checking email or on the Internet. My daughter used to hide mine. I was so addicted I had to often close down my phone because my thumbs were sore from too much texting. She says I’m worse then a teenager with my phone. Ha!
It feels a bit strange admitting that I think we as a society are spending too much time online and with our technology, since I make my living creating social media programs to encourage people, and particularly Moms, to spend more time online. But as I walked around Paris, I saw very few Parisians with cell phones glued to their ears. No proliferation of teens texting as they walked down the street. No cell phones in restaurants with people ignoring their tablemates while they chatted away. It all seemed so civilized.
My latest conviction is we need to create apps that bring Moms and Dads, Grandpa and Grandmas together with our children. Create more togetherness time. Tools that help Moms cross things off her to do list so she can get time with her children versus spending it managing life. Create games that can enable Mom to play online with her children.
My daughter has a Facebook page, a fan page, a YouTube channel and most recently, launched her Twitter efforts. She’s up to 600-some followers in a very short time. I had even talked her into starting a blog but it was too much with homework. Am I creating an over-social child or teaching her skills for the new world we live in? I’m not worried as long as I can teach her to balance online togetherness versus togetherness in the real world.