Finding Time Boundaries Will Help You Surf the Net AND Have Time with Family

ClockI read an article this morning by Barbara Ortutay, reporting on a study conducted out of the Annenberg Center for the Digital Future.  The study results underscore the impact of the digital revolution on our family lives.

The Annenberg Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California is reporting this week that 28 percent of Americans it interviewed last year said they have been spending less time with members of their households. That’s nearly triple the 11 percent who said that in 2006.

Michael Gilbert, a senior fellow at the center, said people report spending less time with family members just as social networks like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace are booming, along with the importance people place on them.

Reading it, I am struck by the irony of social networking media being a major culprit in the erosion of face-to-face social time.  Apparently, it has affected family time more than friend time.

In the first half of the decade, people reported spending an average of 26 hours per month with their families. By 2008, however, that shared time had dropped by more than 30 percent, to about 18 hours.

Certainly, the study underscores the need for us to develop and maintain well-considered and strong time boundaries as we manage our digital lives.  It’s key to remember that our time is absolute, concrete, and limited. For each moment we spend on the internet (as an example) we are necessarily giving up moments we might spend in other ways.

If you find that you  and/or your family are sliding into spending more time in your virtual world than your real world, you may want to step back and make some conscious choices.  Here are 3 ideas, for starters:

  1. Structure your on-line time so that you have clear goals and parameters.
  2. Try using a timer to give yourself an endpoint.
  3. Plan together time with your family and make sure it’s in everyone’s schedule.

Do you notice that your time on-line has eroded your time with the people you care about?  Are you concerned about this?  How have you responded? I’d love to hear!

What if you could find another hour every day? You can! You are invited to sign up and download The New Finding Time Boundary Template. It’s FREE, and when you sign up you will also receive (if you don’t already) my FREE, weekly Finding Time Tips and my FREE, monthly Award-Winning Finding Time E-zine!

Let’s explore time together …


  1. Helene Desruisseaux says

    You are so right about this!!

    Some people find it easier to chat with relative strangers than interact with their families.

    But even if that’s not an issue, being an entrepreneur with an online presence demands that you spend time on social media and it can soak up lots of time.

    The paradox of technology, both giving freedom and taking it away if we’re not careful.

  2. You are so right about that paradox, Helene! The impact of this on our culture, our families, and ourselves is something to be aware of and keeping an eye on, always. Thanks for sharing this insight!

  3. Yes, yes, yes! So important to maintain or start relationships with the REAL people who live with us and with whom we will have life-long relationships. I appreciate you helping us “make time” for the important things!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Kathryn – Your insights are always very welcome! This is an area where the importance of implementing and maintaining good, sturdy time boundaries is so clear (and where we are often apt to let them slip). Here’s to finding time for what matters most each and every day!

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