Slow Living || Using Social Media For Good Around Your Kids
We interrupt our normal mess of fashion related posts to bring you a topic of a different kind. Something, in fact, that I've been holding off on writing about because, admittedly, I'm terrible at it. But if I've learned anything from blogging and the authenticity that goes along with it, it's that the posts that I avoid writing the longest are usually the ones most worth writing.
I often sing the praises of "slow and intentional". And I believe in that lifestyle wholeheartedly. I try, as best I can in a world that promotes more/faster/better/haphazard, to slow down, make my choices from a place of intention, and to raise my girls to do the same. I'm an advocate for "boredom" and schedule as much intentional downtime into my 4 & 2 year old's lives as possible. But there's one area that I've always struggled to use intentionally, especially around my girls, and it's one that I already know I'm not alone in.
Of course, my girls are far too young to have their own devices or social media outlets, but the reality is that they've been born into the "digital age" and navigating that reality as a parent is far from easy. I think both my daughters understood how to work an iPhone from the time they were 18- months old. They both can run Netflix without help, answer my phone, and even like wasting time with Instagram filters with me.
It can seem harmless and, of course, to some extent it is, but raising children in a world so immersed in social media, connection, and immediacy means that things like comparison, discontent, self-loathing, and wandering into unsafe "online territory" can begin happening at younger ages than ever before.
To give some balance to the fear that can drive parenting, I've determined to never parent from a "sheltered" or fear-based line of thought. So, of course, I'm not hiding my girls from all social media or pretending like it doesn't exist. However, I'm equally determined to "use social media for good" in my family - despite the times I've failed to do so.
Here are a few habits I'm hoping to implement more consistently in my day to day to teach my girls that social media can be used for good, but that it's not the "be all end all".
1. Set specific times to post/check social media
I put this tip first because it's the one I fail at most often. I'm on my phone around my girls ALL THE TIME and although I don't feel like I have to be off it entirely, limiting my own screentime, especially around them, trains us both to value each other's company and detach from social media all the more.
This is one of the "cornerstones" of my Social Media Detox from several years ago and, starting now, I'm hoping to make it less of a detox routine and more of an everyday habit.
2. Be intentional with who you follow
Although this may not seem to directly impact your kids, they'll pick up on more than you realize. If you follow accounts that cause you discontent or to compare yourself in unhealthy ways, those feelings will bleed into your day to day life. The occasional sigh when you look in the mirror or exclamation that you "wish you looked more like so and so" can stick with your kids longer than you'd ever intend.
Instead, follow accounts that inspire and uplift you.
3. Decide ahead of time how/when your kids can "sign on"
Having a plan in advance when it comes to social media and your kids is a simple way to reduce anxiety and parent intentionally. They'll know, as they get older, what your expectations are and how social media fits into their lives at a particular phase.
4. Teach them from a young age to unplug
A balance that is easier to imagine than achieve, setting boundaries with screen time/social media is tricky regardless of whether your kids are in school or daycare, whether you work from home with them, or a combination of it all. For me, since my job is entirely online, I try to keep the days when I work while my kids are "plugged into" Netflix to a minimum. Instead, I let them play and make messes around me while I work - not simple, inspiring, or easy most of the time, but it creates a balance between work and play that I think is crucial for kids.