You Don't Have to Leave Social Media—and Here's Why

Mercy River | Apr 4, 2018

We love the discussion happening about social media. It’s addicting. Consuming. Numbing. Our behaviors have reached almost a “compulsive” level. But something doesn’t feel right to me when we say the answer is to delete it. ADULTS: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO LEAVE SOCIAL MEDIA.

And here’s why: 

Social media isn’t going away. It’s not a fad or an epidemic that will pass. It’s part of everyday modern life, and besides the social connections, it’s how I get a lot of my information—what’s going on in my community, school, ward, and world. Yes, it comes with some risks—low self-esteem, covetousness, insecurity, comparisons. But these risks are present in EVERY type of relationship. Especially relationships that are unhealthy. And I’m sure many of us would say our current relationship with social media is unhealthy. 

Does that mean we have to eliminate it all together? Do we need to become the new "old" generation who are out of touch because it was too hard to figure out? No. The answer is MODERATION.

Here are some ideas:

Limit Your Time

Do you only want to spend 20 minutes a day on Instagram? Or check Facebook only on Thursday mornings? There are several screen management apps available for adults that help you track your online habits and allow you to set daily time limits on certain sites. There’s even an app that will charge you $1 every time you use your phone during specified “hands-free” times, or an app that requires you to walk to earn more screen time. (Yes, these apps are for adults!) Check out this link for details: (https://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/apps-to-reduce-screen-time-iphone-android/) Or, set a good old fashioned timer. When it goes off, get off. 

Set Up Notifications 

Set up notifications for what you want or need to see (your ward page, your community page, your son’s baseball team page, etc). When someone posts on one of these pages, you get notified on your phone. (Shut off all other notifications but these.) Now you can distance yourself a little, but not miss important info. 

Be Intentional

Along with limiting your time, make sure you have specific reasons for being on social media. For example: 1). check up on cousin with a new baby, 2). leave three encouraging comments on friends’ posts, 3). post a thought about a scripture you read this morning, 4). get off. Boom. Twenty minutes of good, intentional, social media. 

Create a Physical Space

A friend of ours only allows screens in one room of their home. All phones must stay in the kitchen at all times, including Mom’s and Dad’s. I need to try this. It would be a lot harder for me to get sucked into someone else’s afternoon of goat yoga when I’m standing at my kitchen counter. Now when I curl up on the couch, maybe my brain will think to reach for a book instead. Imagine. That. 

Filter Your Feed

My husband and I recently spent a lot of time and money remodeling our home. I closely followed remodeling pages on Instagram, which was fun then is but super depressing now. I began to regret some of my choices and felt envious of what I saw. I recognized the ugliness creeping into my heart and quickly unfollowed each of those pages. If a person or page consistently makes you feel sad, jealous, or angry, stop following them. Be picky. It’s ok. 

One last thought. We respect and applaud those who ultimately decide to leave social media. But, in our opinion, if you have children on social media, YOU SHOULD BE TOO. We are advocates of delaying social media for teens as long as possible. But if/when you allow them to have an Instagram or Snapchat, please get on Instagram and Snapchat yourself. If social media makes you feel crummy, imagine how much worse it is for your teen, who has an underdeveloped frontal cortex and significant lack of life experience. If you can’t manage it in a healthy way, know they can’t either. And, remember, social media is a space where they will feel sad, embarrassed, shamed, confused, and lonely. Please don’t abandon them in this place. Figure out how to make it work for YOU (moderation, limits, balance) and teach them. Guide them. So. . . if the kids are on, there’s no deleting it for you. Your job is to model appropriate, non-compulsive social media habits. (And to spy. Also spy.) God chose us to be the parents of this generation, and we are the smartest and brightest group of parents the world has ever seen. We can figure this out.

Unfollow what makes you sad. Follow what inspires you. Set time limits and boundaries. Share goodness. Be intentional. This is what we would want our kids to do, so we can do it too. To act and not be acted upon. Social media does not have to control you. Sister Oscarson advises us to be “vigilant in how we use our devices.” Be concerned and constantly on guard, YES. But don’t be afraid.

You can control social media.