Internet: Harmful or Helpful?

I don’t know about you, but I have a pretty strong love/hate relationship with the Internet. On the one hand, I love that I can find just about whatever it is I’m looking for in cyberspace, as well as take care of business that used to take a lot of time. This morning alone I knocked out two otherwise time consuming “errands” in just a few minutes thanks to the Internet: I paid my daughter’s junior high registration fees, and I found, purchased and shipped some “Golden Oldies” piano music to my grandmother for her birthday. The Internet is still like magic to me, since I’m just old enough to remember what life was like before it came along and how valuable every piece of paper information used to be. How did we ever plan vacations, research big purchases, or keep in contact with people before the Internet? And why do I still have that file folder of recipes in my cupboard when all I ever do is go to

But as nifty as the Internet is, it’s vastness can create some unique problems of its own. (That’s the “hate” part.) Speaking of, a search for “chicken” yields no less than 4,541 recipes. And a search under books on for “home decorating” returns 9,956 options. Looking for some help to get your home organized? Google “home organization” and you’ll get 503,000,000 possibilities! Do you see what I’m getting at? Gone are the days of few options and simple choices, and in my totally schizophrenic opinion, that’s both a good thing and a bad thing.

Thinking about The Power of Priorities, I can’t help but think of the ultimate of all time suckers: The Internet. And because time is among our most precious resources as mothers, I think it’s worth discussing how we use it when entering that black hole on a daily basis. (Definition of a black hole: 1. a region of space having a gravitational field so intense that no matter or radiation can escape. 2. A figurative place of emptiness or aloneness. Appropriate, don’t you think?) I know it’s stating the obvious, but there really is no end to the Internet. You could be in there all day, so ask yourself: if life were one big pie chart with your various daily activities portioned out in slices of time, how big would your “Internet” slice be? More importantly, how big (or small) do you want it to be?

To get even more to the point for mothers: do you spend more time blogging about your kids than you do actually interacting with them? Do you spend more time on Facebook keeping up on old friends than you do with your real live family members? Do you get sucked into reading news articles, mommy blogs, or on-line magazines when you could be reading to your kids? Do you shop or research “stuff” ad nauseam on-line when your physical to-do list is a mile long? If so, join the club. All of us have been hypnotized by surfing the world wide web at some point, but that’s no reason for any of us to keep going under. Here are a few ideas to help us all prioritize our time a little better.

  1. Never check email in the morning. This is actually the title of a book by one of my favorite time management authors, Julie Morgenstern. Her point is well taken, since “checking your email” can easily turn into an hour of doing who knows what.
  2. Schedule your on-line time. This is probably the safest way to prevent yourself from emerging from the computer five hours later.
  3. Take a day off. If you can’t go 24 hours without the internet (aside from necessary work), maybe it’s time for a little detox.

QUESTION: How do you control your Internet time? How much of your day is spent on the Internet?

CHALLENGE: Take a day off and see how it feels.


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