It’s no secret that social media is addictive. However, I believe many people fail to realize that our media consumption threatens to ruin our relationship with God and can alienate us from others if we let it. I think the reason internet and social media use can be so dangerous is because we don’t realize how often or long we use it or how many times we think about it throughout the day.
“I’ll just pop on real quick to search about that on Google.”
“I wonder if anyone has liked the photo I posted this morning.”
“My kids are driving me crazy, I deserve a short break.”
“I’ll just get on for a couple of minutes.”
How many times have we grabbed our smart phone or turned on our computer instead of seeking God’s wisdom though prayer or enjoying the presence of the people around us? How often do we attempt to escape our current situation by scrolling through status updates and photos of others? I don’t know about you, but I’m guilty of these things more often that I’d like to admit. While I don’t believe that the internet or social media platforms are evil and should be avoided, I do believe they need to handled with a good dose of caution and godly wisdom.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. -James 1:5
Last month I gave up getting online for a week or so in order to gain a new perspective on my social media use and how it was affecting me, my faith and my family. I realized I need to find a way to keep my consumption from spinning out of control. After stepping away for awhile, I didn’t feel the need to give up social media completely (although I understand why some people do), but I did seek God’s guidance in creating some new boundaries.
Because I know that this is such a prevalent issue in our culture, I thought I would share my social media boundaries with you. It is my hope that doing so will encourage and inspire you to seek with Lord’s wisdom in your own online usage and, at the same time, help me be more diligent in sticking to the limitations I have set for myself.
How I Keep Social Media from Taking Over My Life
1. Delete Apps – Obviously, the quickest and easiest way to avoid using social media too often on a smart phone is to delete the apps and only access them on your computer. There are a few platforms I want to keep (like Instagram and Periscope) since I can only use them on my phone, but deleting all the others helps me avoid the temptation to mindlessly check every single social media platform.
2. Restrict Websites – For an extra dose of accountability I blocked certain social media websites so that I cannot access them through Safari on my phone. This has been extremely helpful for me because I have to intentionally go into my phone’s settings and change my restrictions if I want to browse Facebook.
3. Avoid Notifications – I turned off all notifications for the few social media apps I chose to keep. Now I am not constantly distracted by pings, dings and whistles all. day. long.
4. Unfriend or Unfollow – This was a difficult one for me! However, I knew the less I had to look at, the less time I would spend on social media. As a people-pleaser and somewhat extroverted introvert, I am extremely thankful for the “unfollow” option on Facebook. This allowed me stay friends with everyone I wanted to, but avoid seeing their statuses in my feed. With other platforms that I frequent, I was pretty ruthless and only kept as much as I felt I could handle. My thought is… If I’m following so many people that I don’t have time to view everything in my feed then it’s too many. There is no sense in following someone I’m never going to see or watch. Am I right?
5. Set Time Restrictions – I’m still working on this one. However, I have been aiming to use it only at certain times of the day (for example: during nap/quiet time or snack time). I think it’s important to model responsible use with electronics, so I choose use it in front of my children every so often. When I do get on, I usually set a time limit–and sometimes use a timer–to avoid staying on longer than I planned.
6. Take a Break – Last month I stepped away from all social media platforms for a week or so and it was wonderful. I think this is especially helpful if you feel like it’s becoming an addiction and need to just start fresh. I also have some friends who take a “Social Media Sabbath” once a week. While I don’t have a specific day that I avoid getting online, there are often random days I choose not to use my phone or computer.
I believe these new boundaries have really helped curb my social media cravings and have allowed me to be a more focused and less stressed, which has aided in creating a more loving and peaceful home. That is far more important to me than seeing what someone is eating for dinner tonight!
Have you set any specific boundaries on your social media use? Share in a comment!