Four Simple Ways to Let Go of Social Media This Holiday Season
By Haley Hawks
Many of my early memories focus on horses and my dad. Even from a very young age, my father would take me with him to ride through tall black pine forests full of creeks and fallen trees, looking for those last elusive cows to push up or down the mountain.
He taught me that when we were riding it was imperative that I paid attention. One day as we were riding along a well beaten path a deer jumped out from the trees, and my startled horse took a wild swing to the left. She settled down after a few more slight hops before we continued on our way.
What if at that instant, I had my cell phone out of my pocket trying to frame the dapple grey of my horse against the green hills, instead of living in the moment? Or what if instead of me on my cell phone, it had been my father, my husband, or my daughter trying to take the picture? There could have been disastrous consequences for not paying attention.
We as parents, teachers, and friends can help our kids and ourselves to be more present with these simple steps especially during this holiday season.
- Encourage yourself and others to put the phone down.
It seems natural to always have our cell phones in our hands, but take a break. When you don’t need it, put it away. As parents especially, we need to set the example.
Here are some times when a cell phone is not necessary:
- At the dinner table
- When we are with friends and family
- During business meetings
- At school
It is tempting to be on social media to pass time or catch up with friends. But too much social media wastes time and impedes real-life interactions. Being present in the moment gives place for connections that enrich our lives.
During the holidays, when many of us surround ourselves with family, is the perfect time to practice this. Be present so you can share presents!
- Let the photo opportunity pass.
Ask yourself, is this a picture that I really need to take? Would it put me in danger if I had my cell phone out right now? Do I want to have this forever?
Some moments need capturing. But those moments can just be for our eyes, not for the pleasure of “likes.” What we post on social media should be selective. Our kids should see that we choose to save memories not because we want others to like and see them, but because we treasure them ourselves.
- Live life, not social media.
There are so many incredible images and interactions that are happening every second right in front of us, and we might miss them if we are caught up in the sensations of social media. Instead of wasting time together on our phones, put the phone down and interact. Children grow up so fast. Don’t miss the opportunity to connect with them because you are both on social media. If you’re having trouble disconnecting, set some boundaries:
- Turn notifications off
- Only look at social media after work and family time are completed
- Set time limits
- Try a social media “fast”
- Be intentional.
If you are talking to your mother, talk to her. If you are riding a horse, ride the horse. If you are eating delectable pasta, focus on every delicious spoonful. Don’t wait to see it on social media, but experience it firsthand for yourself.
But if you are going to post … show the authentic you. To do this:
- Share what represents the real you
- Share your true thoughts
- Share your heartfelt, real-life emotions
Your life is utterly beautiful, amazing, redeeming, and lovely. You don’t need to filter and photoshop to achieve the perfection the world demands. Show the world who YOU are and what unique things you have to bring to the table.
Leo Christopher said, “There is only one thing more precious than our time and that’s who we spend it on.” Too often, social media and digital distractions steal time and opportunities to make joyful new memories with the people that matter to us.
When we let go of social media, we take control of reality. We are free to feel the power of the rain, without trying to harness it in a picture. We are free to enjoy snuggles with our kids, without trying to find the perfect caption. If we can find time to be deliberate with social media during this busy time of year, perhaps we can also learn to be unencumbered by technology all year round.
Does your family need a help disconnecting from technology or using it for good? Check out Noah’s New Phone: A Story About Using Technology for Good or Messages About Me: A Journey to Healthy Body Image. In the new year, be on the lookout for Petra’s Power to See: A Media Literacy Adventure to help your kids learn how to read images and media in our image-based culture.
Haley Hawks has a Bachelors of Science in Marriage and Family Studies from Brigham Young University-Idaho. She is passionate about learning, especially when it comes to relationships and family life. She hopes to one day be able to educate on a world-wide setting in regards to promoting goodness in the family, and destroying ideals that hurt society.