My husband and I have always been cautious about media consumption with our children- or so I told myself.
We don’t like the way media makes our children act frequently. We don’t like how screens decrease their joy in other activities or how much time we spend figuring out and enforcing boundaries.
Previously, we set 30 minute limits of technology for the kids. Recently, however, we eliminated their media consumption almost entirely. It has been so, so good for our family.
I saw the negative impact of screen time with my kids, but never studied my own behaviour after technology use. So not only did I take it away from the kids, I took it away from me.
In my significantly less Internet, and Facebook life, I realised I wasn’t honest with myself about how I spent my time and energy as it related to social media.
LIE #1: Media is Bad for My Kids, but OK for Me.
My eight year old threw an enormous fit because I interrupted her 30 minutes of media time to take her to the splash park. She was totally ticked off- and I was furious about her spoiled brat attitude.
I thought this was exclusively a kid problem, but I sat on Facebook at the Splash Park that day instead of exercising, enjoying nature or talking to another human- so how was that different? Essentially, I pulled her off media, so I could escape on mine.
Occasionally, I’ll be reading something interesting and my kid needs something. I get irritated that I have to go parent and have to halt my media to interact with these precious ones I birthed. I don’t like the message that sends my kids. I don’t want real people to feel second to electronic people.
I’m no different than the kids. My relationship with technology is unhealthy. Since I quit, I have enjoyed 6+ books. I forgot how much I loved reading. I studied ants for twenty minutes the other day, and found myself doing it again the next day. Finding wonder in and experiencing the natural world is something technology robs us of. We play football with our thumbs instead of our bodies and watch cats on TV instead of stroking them on our sofas. I want to experience being alive, not be some person hooked up to a virtual Matrix.
Lie #2: Facebook Keeps Me Connected to People
Facebook keeps me connected to people undoubtedly, but I forgot to ask myself an important question: Which people?
I ran into a Facebook friend that I had not seen in over a decade. It was kind of awkward because I already knew she got married, had two children, who she hangs out with and what restaurants she frequents. There wasn’t much to ask, and I felt really creepy.
The truth is I’m connected to a lot of people with Social Media, but I need to seriously evaluate this “friends” idea much more carefully.
What weird curiosity am I satisfying by looking at photos of people I don’t really know? What is this guys? Digital stalkers? What is the point? I still don’t know my motivation entirely for why I was on social media so frequently.
Escape? Distraction? Competition? Encouraging others? Celebrating with others? Connection? Compulsion? Effective communication? Spreading ideas? Listening? Understanding people? Boredom? Self-promotion?
I’m not really sure.
LIE #3: I Am Immune From Social Media’s Pitfalls
Research correlates time on social media with increased anxiety and depression.
I don’t feel depressed, and I’m not an anxious person, so I didn’t think those statistics applied to me. I believed I was immune, an outlier, someone that wasn’t impacted by my Facebook participation.
Then I had a lightbulb moment. One study emphasized that it wasn’t being on social media that makes people anxious- it was being away from it. Of course I wasn’t feeling anxious. By continually checking Facebook, I was keeping the anxiety at bay.
I reduced my Facebook participation to 1-2 times per week rather than multiple times per day. I don’t feel like I have to reply to someone’s comment or follow-up with a question or rebuttal an opinion that caused conflict.
Sometimes Facebook can be a big headache. How do I show support to someone without necessarily agreeing with their opinion?
How do you give your opinion in a way that promotes relationship and conversation? I spent a lot of time figuring that out.
It can be a minefield.
It can make me feel inadequate.
It can make me sad or angry.
I just removed myself from the situation, and my spirit feels lighter.
How does your spirit feel after social media?
Are we neglecting self-discipline with our own media consumption?
What are we modelling for our children?