There’s no doubt that mobile phones, tablets, computers and the Internet make accessing and sharing information a lot easier. From pop culture trends, politics and sports updates, to breaking news and social networks, there’s an awful lot of information out there, and trying to stay on top of it all can be overwhelming. If everyone in the family is connected to their devices — are they really connected to each other?
If you think your email inbox is overloaded, take a look at some of these numbers:
—30 billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook every month.
—864,000 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every day.
—More than 190 million tweets are sent on Twitter every day.
It’s not just adults trying to consume all that information. The Kaiser Family Foundation says that kids 8 to 18 years old average more than 7 1/2 hours a day using digital media. And they spend a lot of that time using more than one digital medium simultaneously, so they end up packing 10 hours, 45 minutes worth of media content into that 7 1/2 hours.
Tips for Managing Your Media
“Internet and digital devices aren’t going away,” says Kinsey Schofield, pop culture maven and social media strategist. “The trick is to find ways to manage your time and the information effectively. When you do that, you’ll have less stress and more time for some fun together.”
Set Internet limits — for everyone
—For kids, set time limits on their electronics usage. They can earn time by doing chores, for good behavior, or as rewards for good grades. Keep track of time with stickers, beads or even candy.
—Adults should lead by example. Set aside a specified chunk of time to deal with emails, social media check-ins or catching up on the latest celebrity news, for example. Designate meal times as “device-free” zones, and make a point of letting your kids see you setting aside your devices.
—As a family, make a list of Internet house rules. Include the types of sites that are acceptable and those that are off limits, time allowed on the Internet, and guidelines for sharing information online.
Monitor mobile usage
—Go through your monthly statement as a family so you can see exactly how much time you are spending connected. This can help you determine reasonable limits on texting, Web browsing, game playing and consuming music.
—Most mobile data plans have parental controls available that will let you limit when kids can text or call, filter Web browsing, block picture messaging and block unknown phone numbers. This can help you put some limits on when your kids can go online, and keep them safer while doing so.
Make your online time more efficient
Instead of trying to sort through thousands of sites to get the information you want, try a site that does it for you, such as msnNOW. “With msnNOW,” says Kinsey, “you can get an up-to-the-minute view of what’s happening across the Web, what people are saying about it all, and why it matters. It’s a quick and edgy way to get plugged into the hottest conversations happening across Facebook, Twitter, BreakingNews.com and Bing — all in one place.” Learn more at www.msnnow.com.
With the right plan, you can tame the wild, wild Web and break free from information overload. And that will go a long way toward getting — and keeping — your family connected to each other.