Scroll free September: Interview with Will Woods, Principal.
For our first update on Scroll-free September OCA’s Principal shares his experience so far. Will has used Facebook for 11 years, and was one of the first users of Twitter.
How do you use social media?
I have Facebook as my close network of friends / community stuff, and Twitter as my announcements to the world and to see what’s going on. Twitter’s great because there’s a whole set of educational technologists there, so you do hear the great and the good.
What did you think about your social media index?
I was surprised I was low risk as I do use it as a distraction activity. We do try and limit screen time with the kids, as especially when they’re younger I think it’s good that they have time away from screens but I probably don’t always practice what I preach!
What made you decide on the cold turkey plan?
I think for me it’s really a good way of recognising how much time is spent doing social media and how that could be better spent. I’ve spent time with my daughter re-decorating her room and it was great. All of the small bits of time add up to quite a lot over the course of a week – I’ve been amazed. Hannah is wanting me to construct a climbing frame now!
That’s September sorted then! How did you feel in the first few days after starting?
The first 24 hours I felt quite anxious and I wasn’t expecting that – concerned about what I might be missing, and also because of the habit of scrolling, and what am I going to do with that spare time? Then in the second day and third day I got a sense of calmness. Like whatever’s happening doesn’t matter and I can find out anyway. At that point it felt like a very positive thing to be doing and I think that’s when I thought this is really going to help me. I was getting a lot of messages trying to entice me back in – emails from Facebook and Twitter, saying look at what your friends are doing – really targeting and pushing in a way I’d never seen before.
Did you wonder then if you were missing out – did the emails make you question?
No, I didn’t really mind – what’s important will still be there, and everything else I can do without. Though I caught myself subconsciously finding different ways to access social media; through Linkedin I was starting to read the comments posted there which I’d not done before, also spending more time on the internal site at work. I think it was pushing my social media habit in different places. I’ve now consciously restricted what I do so I don’t use them as a substitute.
I’m not one of those people that think social media is a bad thing; social media can definitely be a force for good and used extremely effectively but at the same time you can be drawn into things.
Have your relationships with friends and family been affected by the change – are they having to find different ways to contact you, or vice versa?
As a family we are spread all over the world so Facebook’s great for keeping up with what’s going on. My half sister has actually contacted me on messenger since I’ve been away so even though I didn’t announce it people are kind of picking up that I’m not there anymore.
What do you think you will do at the end of the month?
Right now my feeling is if I do return to social media it will be in a completely different way than before. I’ve turned off all notifications. I’m going to be thinking critically about whether I go back to social media at all. I think I will, but really be careful about what I’m doing.
Some OCA students contacted me after the initial blog post about how social media can be used in learning so I would say I’m not discouraging it. For me I think these things are there for us as human beings to be in contact with each other and be part of something that’s larger than us. I think the social aspect of social media is a lovely thing, but I think people need to spend time reflecting on those things and taking a break is a great way to do that.
We will catch up with Will and all of the OCA staff at the end of the month for an update! Please keep us posted on your progress.