Overcoming Internet Envy: Gratitude Practice Makes Perfect
Keeping families connected with a safe phone
Cell phones, including cell phones for kids, are a lot like power tools: Both can be used to build or to demolish.
Have you ever felt bad while scrolling through social media and seeing someone else’s spotless home or healthy home cooked meal?
Or seen a post about an acquaintance’s promotion and thought, “Really…that guy?”
Or maybe you’ve spent time “window shopping” online only to end up dissatisfied with what’s already hanging in your own closet?
You might not be familiar with terms like “internet envy” or “comparison culture” but you probably know the feelings.
Battling Negative Emotions
Technology has made so many things easier while simultaneously contributing to a culture when happiness feels increasingly elusive.
This is the paradox of the digital age.
Gallup’s most recent Global Emotions Report found, “In 2021, people worldwide felt more worried, stressed and sad than at any time in the past 16 years. They also had fewer positive experiences than they did in 2020.”1
There are a lot of reasons for this, of course, but social media is constantly showing up in studies as a contributing factor. So what do we do about it?
The answer to that question depends on the person—and specifically their digital maturity. Most kids and young teens aren’t ready for social media or private online access.
That’s why Gabb devices give kids safe talk and text but without the dangers they aren’t ready for—specifically no social media or internet. But the benefits of a smartphone are too great to ignore forever so the key is to prepare kids to one day step fully into a digital world without being consumed by it.
One important way to do that is surprisingly simple: daily gratitude.
Inviting Positive Emotions
The benefits of identifying the good things in your life and expressing gratitude are well known by now.
One recent article from Harvard summed it up nicely: “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”2
Whether your child has already crossed the threshold to full smartphone use or not, helping them master the skill of gratitude can go a long way. Maintaining positive mental health and avoiding the negative emotions that come with constant comparisons is a critical skill in the digital age.
How to Practice Gratitude
The first tip to helping your children cope with tech pressures through gratitude is: learn how to do it yourself. To get better at this simple, but not-always-easy-to-do skill, we recommend you start a gratitude journal.
One reason it can be difficult to feel gratitude is because life is busy.
In the midst of a hectic schedule it’s tough to find time to pause in the present moment and notice the good all around. So you might think of your gratitude journal as a quick, daily gratitude intervention. Adding another thing to your to-do list might sound counterproductive but you’ll find the rest of your day goes much more smoothly if you feel grateful.
Here are a few suggestions that might make it easier to make the most of a gratitude journal:
1. Pick a Consistent Time
Do whatever works for you but we suggest finding a set time of day each day. It doesn’t need to take more than a few minutes and could be grouped with another part of your routine, like drinking a cup of coffee in the morning.
2. Use the Medium That Works for You
You may prefer to have a physical journal but that’s not essential. Even the notes app on your phone could be the perfect tool (how’s that for using technology to help your mental health). What’s important is consistency.
3. Make an Initial Commitment
The length of time it takes to develop a habit depends on the habit, but research suggests that on average it takes about 60 days.3 That number is a pretty safe bet for something simple like this so you might consider that as your initial goal. By undertaking the challenge yourself, it will be much easier to encourage your child to do it too.
As you work on this as a family, you’ll find that having a consistent gratitude list makes you much quicker at seeing the good in life. That makes feeling good much easier, regardless of what pops up in your social media feed. And next time a social post ignites some envy or resentment, flip open your journal and let gratitude from days past wash all that negative emotion away.
1 Global Emotions Report | Gallup
2 Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier | Harvard Health
3 How Long Does It Really Take to Form a Habit? 7 Things to Consider | Healthline
Like the post? Leave a comment!