How we’re using the internet to stay connected right now
Here is that blog post I promised. Saffron will be going live on Instagram twice a week to help us stay connected with our community during this difficult time. On Thursdays, I'll be talking about a weekly topic and answering any questions I receive on Wednesdays. This weeks topic is how we're using the internet to stay connected right now.
I asked our lovely community how they're using the internet to stay connected, and I got answers ranging from work, to spending more time on social media, to using video calls to help stay connected with friends and family members.
Here are the questions I was asked, and my responses below!
1) Do you have any recommendations for safety while meeting new people online during COVID outbreak?
Although meeting people online is definitely safer than in person right now, there are still safety concerns to think about.
If you’re under the age of 18, you shouldn’t be talking online with anyone that you don’t know in real life, end of story. Even in exceptional circumstances, your safety and the importance of your privacy is still more important! You can use this time to connect with others that you already know, like I’ve been hearing about. You can do group chats or video calls with family, get together online with friends (maybe to talk about how you’re all dealing with your new way of schooling!)
That said, if you do want to reach out, if you need help or are looking for someone to talk to, there are resources for you out there. Check out the link in our bio and choose our Coping and Distraction Methods for tips, worksheets, app recommendations, and more. There are also other resources that you can check out:
· AHS Mental Health Help Line: Call 1-877-303-2642
· Kids Help Phone: Call 1-800-668-6868 or Text CONNECT to 686868
· CASASC 24hr Crisis Line: Call or text 1-866-956-1099
· Alberta’s OneLine: 1-866-403-8000
If you’re over the age of 18, you are legally an adult and are free to talk to whomever you want on social media. However, you should still keep your safety in mind. Be careful not to give out personal information and be wary of ‘fake news’ and scams that might pop up during this time. As with kids, you can use this time to connect or re-connect with people that you know, like family and friends, and plan activities over the internet through group chats or scheduled video calls (e.g. every Saturday evening you go on Zoom with your family/friends/coworkers for an hour).
2) Do you have any tips on how to avoid making comparisons with people you see on social media?
Good question! Spending more time on social media can lead us to compare our lives, bodies, and even productivity with those we see online. The most important thing to remember is to honour your life, body and progress as unique and your own. It’s okay if you’re not using this time to start a big project or learn something new. Whatever emotions you might be feeling right now and reactions you have are valid, they don’t have to match what you’re seeing online. Here's some tips that might help:
a) Use this time to go through who you’re following on social media
Curate who you choose to follow on social media. You can follow a Marie Kondo-style method. If this person or profile doesn’t bring you joy, it might be time to unfollow. Are they promoting that “Instagram model” lifestyle, or unrealistic expectations? Do you find yourself make unhealthy comparisons? It’s time to unfollow! And while you’re at it, choose new people and profiles to follow. There are lots of amazing mental health advocates, body-positivity profiles, spaces for LGBTQ2S+ folks, etc. out there. You can work to make sure than when you do go on social media, what you see is a reflection of who you are and makes you happy.
b) Set time limits for screen time, and take breaks (find a balance)
WHO recommends around an hour of screen time a day for young children. But considering what’s going on right now, and what’s actually realistic for parents and caregivers, I would say it’s more about finding an appropriate balance (for kids and adults!) Setting time limits can help you avoid getting sucked in to that social media wormhole where you can’t stop looking at other’s posts, which can be damaging for self-esteem, etc.
- While working on a computer, look away and at a distant object for about 20 seconds every 20 minutes — set a reminder if necessary
- Take a quick standing stretch break every hour
- Learn a few “chair yoga” stretches to keep muscles loose
- Pay attention to your posture
- Don’t eat in front of a screen
- Avoid backlit screens for an hour before bed
- Note how long you spend on electronic devices and replace some of that with physical activity and social interaction
c) Have fun!
Do what makes you happy! Follow and watch hilarious animal videos (I love the account round.boys on Instagram, because they always feature round and fluffy animals). Take part in (safe and fun) drawing or photo challenges. Use social media to inspire you, read fun stories, watch adorable animals; whatever works for you.
ADDITION: Spending more time online and the news
Try and limit the amount of news media you see (1 hour a day)
Constantly being bombarded by the news with information about COVID-19 can be upsetting and stress inducing. While it’s important to stay up to date with what’s going on, it’s also important to take care of your mental health. Limiting the intake of news to about an hour a day is a good way to stay informed without getting overloaded.
Find your favourite way of getting the news.
I personal enjoy hearing the news over the radio. Maybe you like watching your favourite news anchor or finding news online. Make sure to think critically and be wary of fake news (does it come from a verified news agency? Is there more than one story about it? Do they have citations about where they get their information?).
Even in this tough time, I love to hear stories about how people are staying connected online. For a lot of us, it's the only way that we can hang out and chat with the important people in our lives! So take the time to reach out; call, video chat, or text with your loved ones. We all need that human connection right now. :)