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:
- Never insist my child go play independently so that I can spend time on the internet.
- 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.
- Only post to Instagram if he’s happily and safely engaged in play. No other social media is permissible when we’re together outdoors.
- Save important phone calls and long emails for nap time.
- No digital devices or interruptions at the dinner table.
- 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!