Should I give up Facebook and Instagram? It’s something I’ve been seriously considering for a while, and I’m on the brink of doing just that. Like most Millennial moms, I joined both social platforms early on, but my life has changed dramatically since those first days of membership, and my time is much more valuable — thanks to a very special little girl. Quite often I wonder if I should be giving any of that time to something that doesn’t bring as much to my life as it takes away? Or does it? That’s the question I’m trying to answer . . . .
We’ve all heard about the studies claiming that too much social media can cause anxiety and depression, and FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is a phrase that has been bounced around quite a bit in the past few years, but how does using social media personally affect me . . . especially me as a mom? What effect does it have on my child now, and how will it effect her in the future? I think these answers are wildly different for every person and every mom, but I decided to break mine down individually to help me make this decision. If you’re facing the same dilemma, I hope this helps.
Sharing Is Caring
In our college days, Facebook was a place for posting pictures of the weekend, scheduling study sessions, and cyber-stalking. Nowadays, it’s gone from a news-feed to a mom-feed. Even if you don’t post your own questions about how to do this with your kid or how to stop your kid from doing that, you can learn a lot. It’s a great resource for sharing tips on everything from breast-feeding to school projects, and more important, it gives an ever-increasing disconnected mom population a way to connect. On those days when your infant avoids naps like the plague and you’re at your wits end, it helps you feel a little less alone when you see another mom post about her own nap ninja and how she doesn’t know if she’ll make it to the end of the day. In those moments, Facebook and Instagram do exactly what they should do — connect us to one another and remind us that we all face the same challenges.
Most of us don’t see our extended family every day, and more important, they don’t get to see our children every day. Sharing those pictures of your child’s first day of school or video of their first steps on social media is a great way to make the grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. feel as if they’re apart of your child’s every day life. It saves an immense amount of time by updating everyone at once, fosters group discussions, and provides easy event planning. In fact, I know two specific grandmothers that won’t be too excited if I decide to sign off forever.
Speaking of those college days, how many of your former classmates would you still be connected to if Facebook and Instagram didn’t exist? I know, I know, I’ve heard the argument that social media actually keeps us in contact with people we don’t care enough about to make connections with outside of the Internet, but I’m not sure I buy that. Life is just too busy to keep up with every former friend via phone or visit, and I don’t know about you, but I like friends. Friends are good, no? It gives me joy on a daily basis to see my friends from high school and college doing well, and sharing those sweet photos of their kiddos. And joy is good, no?
Too Much Screen Time
How much of my day do I spend looking at the screen of my phone? I shudder to know the answer to that. Personally, I don’t want to live my life on my phone. I want to see the sunshine shimmer through my daughter’s hair, not adjust it on an Instagram filter . . . which is the way I’ve been experiencing it way too often these days. I also hate the idea of my child wondering why I spend so much time looking at a phone instead of at her. It’s an example I don’t want to set, and while I can’t avoid it altogether (no one is talking about giving up Google Maps, texting, or Pinterest here ladies, let’s not get crazy), Facebook and Instagram are what keep me checking my phone more frequently and keeping my attention for longer periods of time. For Lent this year, I gave up Instagram and Facebook, and I looked at my phone half as much. At least. Sometimes, I even forgot about it altogether, and that my friends, is a fantastic feeling.
According to my Facebook feed, every child in America is fighting a life threatening illness caused by a bite that looks just like an ant bite, but it isn’t, so “Mom’s, watch out!” Obviously that’s not true, but it sure does feel like it some days for an anxiety-prone momma like myself. In our age of 24-hour, full-coverage news, we are bombarded with mountains of health information and warnings, and Facebook is just another outlet for those stories to reach you . . . on a constant level. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s fantastic how people sharing their health stories has helped medical research and saved countless lives. Those lives are much more valuable than my personal anxiety so I think the sharing should continue, but I know it’s not the healthiest thing for me to see on an hourly basis. After a while I start believing my own child is sick or will be very soon, and that isn’t good for anyone.
Literally Making Memories
It’s a great thing to make memories with your kids, right? I certainly think so, but over the past few years I’ve caught myself creating memories with social media in mind and then not fully being present during those memories because of it. In essence, I want to let memories happen naturally instead of crafting them for the perfect picture. I’m not proud to admit it, and I honestly don’t do it consciously, but after we get home from the ballgame or festival, I realize what I’ve done and regret the time I spent on my phone, posting a perfect picture, instead of watching the last play with my husband or devouring a funnel cake with my daughter. And, while I’ll never put down my camera (you’ll have to pry it from my cold, you-know-what hands), I would really like to leave the process of immediately sharing those photos with the world in the dust. Sign me up for some old school photo albums.
Clearly, I haven’t made up my mind yet, but I’m sure you can tell which way I’m leaning. Now I just have to take the plunge.