There’s a reason people who have 10,000+ followers are called “influencers”. They’re literally influencing those who follow them. I don’t feel that a person should have 10k or more followers to be called an influencer though. We are influenced by anyone we are allowing to show up on our feed. The content they produce influences our decisions, our thought processes and our lives. If it didn’t, positively or negatively, we wouldn’t consume their content anymore. We’d simply unfollow.
I don’t take for granted that the combined 2,000 followers I have throughout the different platforms I produce content for, including you, are influenced by that content every single day. In fact, I value it. I have a responsibility to make sure that I’m using these platforms for good, creating helpful content and being responsible for the marriages and families that I’m influencing. I’m also highly aware that not everyone has the same heart I do or takes responsibility for their platforms in the way I do. I’m also hightly aware that because my 12 year old doesn’t have the brain synapses that I do and won’t until his brain stops growing at the age of 25! He doesn’t understand the influence these YouTubers have on him. I won’t let him have social media or his own phone yet for this very reason.
Most of what we learn about relationships can be traced back to our parents, grandparents, or older generations. We watched, we caught more than we were taught about what marriage and relationships should look like. Except when it comes to social media.
We are the first generation to have social media and we are enthralled, obsessed, and addicted. We take our phones to the bathroom with us for crying out loud! How do we model a healthy relationship for future generations? You know, the upcoming generations that live in our houses and are watching us like we watched previous generations. How do we preach to them to limit screen time when we don’t limit it ourselves?
Recently, Mohammed and I started to ask ourselves the same question as we watched Encanto, Moana and Frozen on a loop for the 8,000th time and again when we were preaching to our tweenager that he needed to get off YouTube! Oof. The hard truth slapping us in the face is that they’re simply following our lead and the only way to make it stop is to set some boundaries.
Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve seen so many posts in different groups I’m in on facebook talk about affairs, marriage problems and disconnection. Did you know that 85% of affairs start out as emotional affairs? A harmless text that eventually crosses a boundary, a social media post that leads to a direct message that leads to more than just “small talk”. A few years ago, I remember a comment a friend of mine made over couples who share social media accounts and how stupid it was. I wasn’t so sure then but now, I’m definitely sure that it’s not stupid at all. It’s a boundary.
Boundaries aren’t just around who we follow and whether we have our own social media accounts or combined to avoid temptation. They’re setting time limits, removing notifications so we aren’t controlled by a ding, vibration or number in the upper right hand corner of an app. They’re deleting social off your phone, keeping your phone out of the bedroom or turning it on do not disturb mode after a certain time to promote more connection between you and your partner. Boundaries are set to control our own behavior and promote what’s important to us. When we don’t have boundaries, we don’t have control on our time and energy. So we spend that time and energy getting sucked into things that may not be as important as our spouse and kids but we invest our most precious resources in what’s important. So by investing our time and energy into our phone, the message we’re sending to those we love is that social media is our priority. Technology gets our attention and our family gets what’s left over.
That realization was enough for us to say enough is enough. Here are the boundaries we’ve set. Feel free to take what you need and leave the rest.
- Sleep mode at 9 pm to avoid blue light before bed
- No technology at the dinner table or in bed
- Removed notifications
- Time limits on certain apps and for the kids
- Parental monitoring of sites
That’s what we’ve come up with so far. We also started taking a class called Screen Sanity- teaching your kids how to be responsible around technology. If you’d be interested in taking this class, let me know. I am considering getting certified as a faciliator. If you have boundaries around technology that you’ve set, I’d love to hear them as well! Feel free to respond to this email or post them in my Facebook coaching group!
Social media and technology aren’t all bad. Groups, influencers and content can help you grow, can educate and promote positivity. It can be used for good. The idea, like anything else, is to monitor, reflect and inventory it every now and then. Is it a problem? Is the content you’re consuming growing you or making you feel like garbage? Is it helping or hurting your marriage and your family connections? Do you need new or different boundaries?
I look forward to hearing about your boundaries and connecting with you on this topic.
Have a great week!