January is a time of reflection on the past year and intention setting for the year ahead. Many of us have technology on our minds, after a year of remote learning, working from home, Zoom family gatherings, and a constantly updating news cycle on your social feeds. Here are some ways to keep media in mind as you set your goals and resolutions.
1. Be a Leader – Not a Lurker
When engaging on social media, videos, and blogs, we often end up scrolling for hours on end, consuming without creating, and sometimes without even taking the time to process what we’ve read or seen before moving on to the next thing. Stop this cycle by creating your own content! Research suggests that actively engaging in social media in a positive way, whether commenting thoughtfully on a friend’s post or writing your own, can have a positive impact on mental health. Using the media tools you have to be creative or support your community can be a powerful experience. Make a video on your smartphone, create blackout poetry, take one photo of your cat a day – anything that excites you! You can also start a personal journal where you can reflect on your thoughts or feelings about what you’ve been seeing and what’s inspiring you.
2. Create a Media Log
Not every media-related resolution has to be about stepping away or logging off. Creating a media log can help you to learn more about yourself and your habits while building more mindfulness into your media use. Log not only the time that you spend on different media but how you feel after spending that time. Keep in mind that “media” doesn’t only refer to digital media like social apps and Netflix, but also to things like books, magazines, board games, etc. Using a cookbook to cook with your family is a way to use media! After recording your media use and emotions for a week, you’ll have a good idea about what activities are bringing you joy and which ones you can probably cut back on. You may even discover new and exciting ways to use media. This is also a great activity to do as a family!
3. Shake-up your Feed
You’ve probably amassed a lot of people on your social media feeds over the years. Some are friends, some are family, and some may be celebrities, creators, bloggers, or acquaintances you barely remember meeting. Take inventory of the people you follow. How similar are they to each other? To you? When curating our feeds, it’s easy to put ourselves in an echo-chamber of ideas and experiences that we agree with and recognize. Stepping outside your comfort zone can help you to see new perspectives on topics you care about and can broaden your mind. Set a goal to follow people with different backgrounds, opinions, or niches from yours. You don’t have to stick to social media, either! Think about the authors of the books you read, the directors and writers of the movies and TV you watch, and the musicians that you have on repeat. Your goal could be to listen or watch media made by one new creator a month, or to integrate 10 new creators into your rotation by the end of the year.
4. Be Your Own Social Media Manager
It can sometimes feel like social media is in control of us, instead of the other way around. The amount of time you spend on screens is important to note, but it’s the quality, rather than the quantity, that can help you lead a balanced life. Social media is a great tool to connect with people and to learn new things, but setting boundaries with yourself is the key to managing emotional burnout. In her piece on social media, researcher Anna Jolliff reflects on her own blogging experience and explores whether or not it contributes or compromises mental health. Being mindful of the notifications that you allow and unfollowing accounts that raise your anxiety are good first steps to establishing those digital boundaries.
5. Schedule Some Snowman Time
If you want to step away from the computer and/or smartphone more often this year, choosing activities ahead of time will help you stick to your resolution! Winter offers a variety of outdoor adventures, such as hiking, sledding, snowman building, and skiing. Getting outside can improve your mood, concentration, and self-esteem, so bundle up and explore! If you spend much of your day in front of a computer, consider a few scene changes now and again. Write the first draft of a document by hand in a notebook, print out articles you want to read, and schedule a few calls for the phone instead of Zoom. You don’t have to go far – check out our blog for some fun indoor activities for you and your family.
Take advantage of the fresh start this year. Ask yourself, what are some ways you can find new sparks of joy? Are there new ways that you can use media to connect with your friends, your family, and yourself? What are some ways you can challenge yourself, learn, and grow? We hope these resolutions and questions provide a little inspiration to get you going! Happy New Year!