iStock_000017445518XSmall-150x150I’ve been reading some articles on the growth of social media like Facebook,LinkedIn and Pinterest, just to name a few. The statistics were staggering to me. According to Nielsen and NM Incite’s latest Social Media Report, consumers continue to spend more time on social networks than on any other type of site, and even more time is spent on social media via smartphones and tablets.

Facebook is still in the lead and remains the top social network. This doesn’t come as any great surprise to me, as just about every person I know has an account not to mention most businesses. However, the number of social media networks that one can choose from are endless and other sites are adding social features to entice you. Pinterest, for example, has become the social media star of 2012, being in the lead for the largest year-over-year increase in both users and time spent as a user.

In looking at these stats, I’m wondering where my family and I fit into this? Are we utilizing it as a tool, or have we let it begin to run our lives? My daughter like most teens, loves her Facebook, but she decided to take a month off. I personally didn’t think she would make it the whole month, she surprised me, not only did she make it she added another month to it! I learned through her that too much of a good thing is not good. Social Media can be a great way to catch up and interact with others. It’s a fantastic way to promote your business or a cause that is close to your heart. But when do you draw the line and say it is enough for today? With my children, I monitor their computer time, but I’m a grown up so I can monitor myself…right? Like anything we do in life there is the chance of “overindulging”, so maybe setting time limits or taking weekends off is a way of keeping it all in perspective.

I will admit, I spend more time than I like on Social Media. I think to myself, I’m just going to check in and the next thing you know an hour has gone by. I have a few things I try to do to keep myself in check:

1. I ask myself, Have I have talked to someone today? Meaning, did I actually talk to a “real” friend. Did I make a phone call or even better, did I go and see someone…in person?

2. When promoting things that are important to me do I only use social media, or do I physically get out there and do something for the cause? For example, my son is in the Army, so helping soldiers is something dear to my heart. I need to realize that posting heartfelt pictures is one way to help others remember this cause, but going to town and helping pack care packages probably is even more helpful.

3. Take some time off. Sometimes, like my daughter, I take a little break. Maybe just a few days or a weekend but a little time away where I’m not thinking that each picture I take is a good profile picture, or how many responses I will get on my next post. Go and live life a bit.

In reflection, I think social media has been an amazing tool for all of us, but keeping it in check is important. It has the capacity to absorb, so much more than you really want to give it. In the words of Richard Steel, “We should employ our passions in the service of life, not spend life in the service of our passions. “

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