Why Boundaries on Social Media Matters

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Ever walk into your living room and notice that everyone is on their cell phones or iPad? They’re either texting a friend, checking email, or scrolling through social media. If they aren’t on their device, it's within arm’s reach so that when it vibrates, chimes, or rings they can immediately grab it. It can be so frustrating!

I love my smartphone and the access to information that it gives me. There are so many good things about them and social media, but there’s also a downside.

As parents, it is important for us to understand the impact of technology on our children because they are the first generation to not know a life without it. Besides not being present, constant interaction with our devices prevents us from developing necessary life skills.

I want my children to:

Form deep meaningful relationships. Texts and emails have made it easy to maintain superficial relationships. My kids need to practice the skills necessary for real friendship such as making eye contact while listening and confronting others when their feelings are hurt. Communicating through a direct message on Instagram doesn’t provide this.

Cope with stress in a healthy way. Using a device to deal with stress only offers temporary relief. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) When kids keep busy to numb grief, sadness, and pain, they miss out on real comfort and rest available through Christ. Plus, they won’t experience the range of emotions necessary to develop empathy and compassion.

Experience the reward that comes from working long, hard, and consistently on something. If children become conditioned to expect immediate results, they will not develop the drive to persevere in a relationship, project, or new business. Entitlement will creep in and eventually they may only do what comes easily to them.

Engage fully in life rather than be a spectator. If every time my teens get together with friends or go out to eat they are focused on capturing every picture perfect moment they will miss out on the experience itself.

My kids aren’t the only ones vulnerable to smartphone and social media misuse. I am just as susceptible as they are. That’s because the internet, social media, and texting provide instant gratification. When we receive the thing we desire our body releases dopamine, a chemical in our brain that causes us to seek more and more pleasure, which throws us into a looping in a cycle of behavior.

If you think it’s time to put boundaries on social media and technology in your home here are some suggestions:

Pray. This is the best place to start. One you have recognized unhealthy patterns, ask God for wisdom on how to proceed.

Identify how you use technology. Is your phone the first thing you grab in the morning and the last thing you put down at night? Are you using it to cope with stress or keep busy? Is it replacing face to face relationships?  Do you panic when you forget your phone at home?

Get real-time data on how you are using it. It’s safe to say that many of us don’t realize how much time we actually use our devices. Flurry and eMarketer’s reports that adults (18+) spend about 4 hours, 40 minutes on our mobile phones every day. Some reports say teens spend a 'mind-boggling' 9 hours a day using media. Having real data, specific to you and your family will shed light on this. Our family uses Circle from Disney which not only allows us to put filters on our wifi, create time limits, but tracks time spent online and on specific apps and sites.

Discuss the impacts of technology on your family. Start off the conversation with your children by empowering them. Ask they what they think about your cell phone usage. How does it make them feel when their friends are on their phones during playdates? We will be asking those types of questions at our next family retreat.

Set boundaries. The guidelines you put in place should be based on your family's unique culture and values. If your children are old enough, ask them for suggestions. When family members are involved in making decisions they are more likely to abide by the rules and take ownership of their behavior.

As you begin to shift your focus off technology and onto relationships, you will see positive changes in our home. Less technology will allow for margin on our day. That extra time will not only enable us to connect with one another, but it will foster creativity and innovation.


For more on the topic listen to:

Episode 45 Elisa Pulliam on Breaking Social Media and Screen Addiction

Join us and special guest, Elisa Pulliam, as we talk about social media, why it’s contributing to miscommunication and misunderstanding among generations. and how we can overcome it.


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