From the time that I began blogging two and a half years ago, social media has scared me. Not so much in a “my information is public” way, but more of a “will this take over my life?” way. And a “will my kids think that mom is constantly on the computer?” way.
Lately, I have been studying what the Bible says in relation to social media. Obviously, it says nothing directly, since it was written over 2,000 years ago! But there are many principles that apply perfectly to our use of social media. My thoughts may turn into a series on this subject, or they may not – I’m not sure yet! But in this post, I want to focus on the distraction that social media can be, and where social media fits with the priorities God wants us to have.
First of all, I want to say that there is nothing inherently sinful about technology and social media. There is nothing in scripture against owning a smart phone or having a Facebook account. So in looking for what the Bible says about social media, I thought about the areas of life that social media affects: relationships with others, relationships with my family, and my time. Scripture is very clear about the way in which I am to treat my husband, my children, and my home.
What are my primary responsibilities as a mother of young children?
“Older women are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”
From Titus 2, my responsibilities are:
- To love my husband
- To love my children
- To be a worker at home
- To be kind
When I looked at these responsibilities, I realized that social media must come after loving our husbands, loving our children, working in our homes, and maintaining a kind spirit. I also realized that an out-of-balance amount of social media works against these commands of scripture! (I’ll come back to sensible and pure later in another post.)
What are the opposites of Titus 2? What is the opposite of living out these priorities?
- To love myself above my husband
- To love myself above my children
- To be lazy at home
- To be unkind
Social media can promote laziness. Not always, and not for everyone. But I find that it’s easier to scroll through Facebook than to mediate yet another disagreement between my children. It’s also easy to be lazy in online interactions themselves. We can read what others write, and respond, or not. The fact that online interactions require no effort from me unless I choose to extend it makes it easy to use social media as an escape. I have found myself becoming impatient with my children because they are interrupting my reading an acquaintance’s status update about their nightmare visit to Walmart. It feels silly to even write this, but it’s true. The fact that I feel frustrated when interrupted shows that I am putting whatever I’m reading (and my right to a few minutes of relaxation) ahead of my children.
I think that this is a good place to say that this problem is not really unique to social media. There are many good things that can become distractions if used out of balance – books, time spent with friends, taking naps, and many more. There are many things that are more pleasant than laundry, mopping (again!), and teaching our children not to argue with each other, so this is a struggle common to all moms. Social media just makes being distracted particularly easy.
I also honestly believe that social media has several inherent benefits. I enjoy Facebook, Pinterest, and blogging. I enjoy being able to connect with friends and family members who live all over the country. I even have blogging friends that live in other parts of the world! My blog is starting to generate a small income, which we really need. If I weren’t blogging, I would be teaching more private music students, which would actually take me away from my children more.
So what’s the answer? Making my use of social media intentional.
My goal is to be on Facebook for a specific purpose (connecting with friends and family, encouraging other women in my local church) and for a specific amount of time. In general, I don’t want to be in and out of Facebook all day long in a distracted-from-real-life sort of way. Plus, Facebook gives a person so much information (a myriad of status updates, articles to read, etc.) that it provides ongoing distraction in the form of things to think about!
I have two current goals. One is to not turn on the computer until afternoon nap time. If I check e-mail and Facebook in the morning during breakfast, the kids tend to seize that opportunity to get really wound up before the school day even starts! If I have blogging work to get done, then I will need to get up before the kids do in order to be putting away the computer when they come down. This way, we are getting our day started on the right foot. I’m spending time educating my kids and just being with my kids before I work on other tasks. This rule is not meant to be legalistic, and there are certainly times when I need to be on the computer while the kids are around. They can learn to let me send an e-mail. etc. But I don’t want to live my life in a distracted state!
My second social media goal is to not view Facebook (or any other site) as an escape from my kids. It’s easy to think that if the kids are driving me crazy, that I just need a few minutes to myself to relax, check Facebook or e-mail, etc. However, this is not true! If I’m feeling frustrated with my kids, I need an attitude adjustment! I need some time in prayer. I need to be refreshed by God’s Word. Yes, Facebook is great in that it allows us to feel connected with others and to see that we are not alone in our crazy lives with young kids, but Facebook should not be a source of escape! The issue is the attitude. If my kids are busy playing, and I’m on Facebook while they’re doing that, then I don’t think that’s a problem. But if I’m ignoring their issues because I don’t want the interruption, now I’m in the wrong.
One of my reasons for keeping my social media time in check is that I want to set a healthy example for my kids. If you’re a parent, I highly recommend reading The Next Story: Life and Faith After the Digital Explosion by Tim Challies. Challies is a blogger who obviously enjoys social media, but he also sees some of the potential dangers of technology and explains them in a very readable way. Get this book before your kids get to the age of wanting their own Facebook account or smart phone!