Parenthood · Stay-at-home-sometimes-solo Mom

When You’re Hooked on Social Media

I don’t think it’s weird that I check Facebook on my iPhone every night before I go to sleep, every morning after the alarm goes off, and every time I walk by my opened laptop-slash-music-center on the kitchen counter. When my husband is deployed, I try to keep Facebook open in case he’s able to hop online, or in case a friend is still up on the other side of the Atlantic.

When I meet new moms, “Are you on Facebook?” comes up before “What’s your number?” We add each other to groups and recommend pages with relevant discussions. We plan play dates and share information there. (Maybe because cell coverage is so spotty out here? Because we don’t want to call mid-diaper change? During nap time?)

In short, I check Facebook (and Twitter, and Instagram, and my email) a lot.

I know it’s excessive. That if I were in a structured workplace or out with friends I wouldn’t be constantly looking to social media for a conversation to begin or continue.

But, then again, I spend all day every day with a tiny person under the age of 2. It’s how I connect with other adults, how I bridge the thousands of miles between me and my family. It’s how I feel less isolated.

Recently I read this article at Military Spouse Central and was shocked to learn that there are people who have gotten SO wrapped up in an online activity that they have seriously harmed their children for interrupting them. Like, so bad that a toddler has died (ughIcan’teventypeitwithoutwantingtovomit). Sure, it can be annoying to have a toddler banging on my keyboard while I’m trying to send an important email. But… that kind of reaction indicates a real problem (that probably goes deeper than social media use).

Earlier this year this post from Hands Free Mama made its rounds, encouraging parents to put down the phone and engage with their children when they are together. To let their children know they are the top priority, that no phone call or email is more important. To be fully present with their children. I believe in this, for sure, and think it should apply to our usage of social media, the internet, television…any unnecessary distraction. I just find it really, really difficult to do regularly for 12 hours a day.

There are several moments in a day when my son is so engrossed in play that I feel comfortable stepping away. Usually I choose to connect with the outside world.

So. Yes, I’m hooked on social media. Is it a problem? Maybe not.

I have some practical mom rules for social media use:

  1. Never insist my child go play independently so that I can spend time on the internet.
  2. Never make my child feel bad for wanting my attention if I’m in the middle of doing something online. Stop what I’m doing and go see or play.
  3. Only post to Instagram if he’s happily and safely engaged in play. No other social media is permissible when we’re together outdoors.
  4. Save important phone calls and long emails for nap time.
  5. No digital devices or interruptions at the dinner table.
  6. Block, ignore, or defriend anyone who causes me anxiety.

And I want to implement some more:

  • Limit how often I check social media.
  • Keep the laptop turned off until it’s time to write, research, or edit photos. There are other ways to access music.
  • Clean my feeds, so that I’m only presented with content that I find fulfilling.
  • Pare down notification settings from my blog and social media, to receive fewer alerts of new activity.
  • Go offline one day a week. I enjoy being disconnected when I have no choice (i.e. in the middle of the wilderness). Why not give it a try? I think I’ll start tomorrow.

What about you? Do you have self-imposed rules or limits on your use of the internet and social media? Do you have stories about the impact of social media on your family life? I’d love to hear how you manage this modern day beast in the comments below!

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8 thoughts on “When You’re Hooked on Social Media

  1. This was a HUGE issue in my house until I made the fantastic decision to keep my computer closed while my kiddos are awake. Both my kids attend school and have a pretty busy social schedule w/sports, play dates, birthday parties, etc…So I find any time I have them home is special and worth all my time w/out interruptions (that goes for mobile phones too). Great blog, Lynn!

  2. Under no circumstances do I engage in social media while driving. These seems obvious, but it happens here all the time.

  3. Driving in the UK requires 110% of my concentration – I can’t imagine trying to check in while driving! But I’m sure with some big, glorious American roads it could be tempting. Good rule!

  4. Lynn, I love that you decided to write on this topic. It is something that I struggle with in terms of my own limits and also in determining what limits to set within my family! I look at your practical rules and then those listed that you’d like to implement. You are a strong woman! I am not sure I could go without computer/phone for one day a week. And I suppose that is sad that I admit it, but technology has almost become a necessity in keeping in touch with friends and family. One thing is for sure, you’re getting me to think hard about the environment I want to create and have in place for my daughter.

  5. Yes, I have general rules that I follow and they’re very similar to yours. The biggest one is that I don’t turn the computer on if I’m playing with him, even if he’s engrossed in independent play. The only time the computer is on when he’s awake is if it is work-related (I work from home some days).

    If he’s doing independent play, I’ll read or write notes or something. The most digital I’ll get is turning to my iPhone for quick updates on Facebook and email. But there’s no way I can write out anything meaningful during that time (hence why I’m writing this while he’s napping :) ).

    Of course there are exceptions, and no one is branded The Terrible Mom for checking Facebook (unless like you said, your kid dies, then that’s just a whole other story!). But these are the general rules that keep my toddler happy and me focused on him.

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