We all love social media. If we’re feeling nosy, tired or bored it’s just so easy to access. No need to get dressed up or make excuses to leave, we can literally flit in and out of it whenever we feel like it! But while social media helps to connect us socially online, it can also disconnect us from the real world and those that we love, influence our mental health and manipulate our thoughts. How many of us can honestly say that we have never ignored those sitting right beside us because we are too busy with our heads in our phones? When we’re talking to someone and our phone pings who gets our attention? According to bbc.com three billion people (which is around 40% of the world’s population) use online social media and we’re spending on average two hours every day sharing, liking, tweeting and updating on these platforms. That breaks down to around half a million tweets and Snapchat photos shared every minute. So it’s not surprising that it has such an impact on our lives. From providing a platform for support to causing Social Media Addiction, the power of social media really is vast.
Long gone are the days of dragging the cord of the home phone under the door and hiding in the hallway to have a private conversation, or walking to the phone box with a pocket full of coins to make a call from a public phone box. Nowadays, the luxury of having a mobile phone is not only used to make calls, it’s an avenue to access social media sites, search the internet, watch YouTube and play games. In fact, my experience is that children use a mobile phone less for its principle function ‘to call’ than anything else. So it’s not surprising really that many parents are reluctant to allow their children to have a mobile phone. However, at some stage we all know that this is going to change and none of us want our child to be the only one who hasn’t got one. So what is the right age to allow our children to have a mobile phone?
The shock of losing someone that we love can be so overwhelming that we just don’t know how we can face tomorrow. For me, the worst thing I have ever imagined happening to those I love is dying.
I lost my Dad and my mum’s partner, who I was very close, to within five weeks of each other. When my mum’s partner was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and he was so ill that he hoped each day would be his last, I realised that the worst thing is not dying, it is suffering.
Five weeks later, the shock and devastation of losing my Dad suddenly to a cardiac arrest caused me to flash back our whole lives together and to carry the weight of any imperfections in our relationship on my shoulders. For the first three weeks afterwards I seem to have walked around in a complete and utter daze. I can’t remember much to be honest. So how can we make sure we look after ourselves when we are grieving?
For many years, and perhaps for as long as history is recorded, women have been viewed differently to men. Not just different, but subservient and weaker. As long ago as the Victorian era, women have fought hard to have the same rights as men. Thankfully in 1903, due to strong minded women with the determination to stand up for what they believed in, the women’s suffrage movement was formed. Women suffragettes stood tall and fought for the right to vote as the men did. Astonishingly, it took activists a long 15 years to win the right to vote and even then, it was restricted to women who were middle class and at least 30 years old, compared to all men aged 21 and over. Extreme measures such as chaining themselves to the railings, setting fire to post boxes and empty buildings, storming parliament, setting off bombs in empty buildings and having battles with police, saw many imprisoned, where they continued to protest through going on hunger strike, only to be force fed. A further 10 years of perseverance saw the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act 1928 which finally gave all women the right to vote at the age of 21. That’s a total of 25 years to persuade the government that women’s views were just as important as men’s! Such an amazing achievement, but such a long long way to go to achieve total equality and for women to be valued in the same way as men. Fast forward to today and many changes have occurred. Women may no longer be chained to the kitchen sink with the pressure to find a ‘good man’ to keep her, nowadays many women work, live alone and are independent, however, there are many aspects of society which still view men as the stronger sex and women as weaker. More often than not, women still take the man’s surname in marriage, men are often handed the bill in a restaurant and feel obliged to open doors for women, yet they are often told to ‘man up’ if they cry. So, how much longer will it take for women and men to be treated equally?
We all feel the need to be accepted, it’s a basic human instinct. Naturally we all want to be liked as gaining approval from others increases our self esteem. We know people judge us, as we judge them, by their opinions and choices, the way they look, the way they speak, where they live, their occupation, plus lots of other things we aren’t even aware of. But how much should we actually care about what people think of us?
Someone is pulling on the breaks. The fast paced life-style that involves a constant rushing from one task to the next, causing us to feel like hamsters on a treadmill- constantly running, yearning to stop, is for many a distant memory. The monotony of working, school drop offs and pick ups, rushing to after-school clubs and preparing dinner, just to wake up and do it all over again. For many, a welcome break from the usual routine for our bodies, but our minds can struggle to adapt.
We encourage our children to have their own likes, dislikes and not to do things just because everyone else does. We want them to be individual with their own opinions. However, it seems this applies in every setting except for at the dinner table!
Thinking back to that smiley, giggly, angelic face and those chubby little legs, it seems quite unbelievable that standing before us now is soon to be a teenager. We all hope, dream and strive for that strong parent-child bond. One where our children feel comfortable enough to confide in us, listen to our advise as their parent and have fun with us as their friend, but as they become more independent, strong willed and hormonal, many of us know too well that this can prove to be a challenge.