I will be turning 30 this December. This is a milestone birthday for me and one that I have always looked forward to having.
As I was thinking about my life up to this point, I thought about many things…
One thing that stood out to me was that a very large portion of my life has been spent in front of a screen. Whether a television, computer or phone, this digital age of technology has been a huge part of my life.
I experienced the transition from low technology use to extremely accessible and widely accepted technology use. The internet has been revolutionary and with each passing year there is a new phone, tablet, laptop, etc.
I began using computers in elementary school and by junior high I remember waiting for Aol to dial up. I remember the transition from researching tangible library books and using small cards organized alphabetically to find them, to researching online for my school projects. I remember using a pay phone after volleyball practice and leaving a message on the home answering machine.
Today, children are getting cell phones as young as age 6.
I didn’t get a phone until I was 17 and had a steady job to pay for it. The progression of using personal technology grew from there. Later on, toward the end of high school I got my own laptop. That is also when Myspace and eventually Facebook were introduced.
Today, 74% of adults online are using social media sites such as Facebook. And 52% use two or more social sites.
My point in sharing this is to show you that social media has been a growing part of my life over the last 30 years. The same is most likely true for you. And with this increase in technology – which I doubt will slow down at all – it is extremely important for us to consider how much we use it and the impact it has on us, as well as the next generation(s).
Why is this important?
Talking about social media and the access we have to it is important because family value, marriage, and other intimate relationships are a significant part of culture and our existence. It would be foolish of us to brush off the impact of social media. Instead, we must confront it and in some areas implement boundaries so that these impacts do not ruin our lives.
I believe technology is powerful. I am grateful for the opportunities that come from having access to social media. I use social media daily as I update my blog and social sites, sending marriage encouragement out into the world for all to see.
However, as much as I appreciate it, we must acknowledge that social media, without boundaries, can also become a silent killer for marriage and other close relationships. I saw an article recently that included photographs that an artist curated to depict how the increase amount of time we connect online, has led to us being more disconnected in real life.
Check out that photo gallery: Removed
I know that this was a project set-up and staged by the photographer, however, looking at these images stirred sadness in my heart because I know these images reflect reality.
I have been at the coffee shops where every single person is tuned out and into their computers. I have been at dinner and seen a mom and son completely engaged with their phones, an opportunity to communicate about heart matters…wasted. I have felt the struggle when I am with my family and choose to check out and into my apps, checking my phone just to scroll aimlessly through news feeds instead of engaging with them.
This is a growing problem.
And the kids who are getting the phones earlier and earlier will not see the difference in how far removed we have made ourselves from real life interpersonal relationships. It will be their normal. What does this mean for their marriages?
I believe it is imperative that we make boundaries for ourselves and our family when it comes to technology use. I believe we must fight the urge to dive into our online agendas until we first make sure that we have connected with one another (our husbands and children).
Otherwise, social media will become a silent killer. As we choose to silence ourselves in real life to be present in a virtual world, it is vital to know that it could lead to ruin in our most treasured relationships.
Here are some things to be mindful of for your sake and your marriage when it comes to social media:
It requires time spent.
This is a no-brainer…but to be online, means that you are making the choice to be dialed in online and simultaneously choosing not do something else. Don’t let that “something else” be a priority. Don’t forsake or neglect your real-life relationships such as spending intimate time with your husband. If you are in bed next to your husband and you both are just on your phones, have the courage to put it down and invite your husband to be with you. Talk to him and make your relationship with him strong by being fully present.
It can activate dormant relationships.
This is a very difficult one. Some dormant relationships will be fine to pursue such as your best girlfriend from grade school. However, if you and your husband are not doing so well, and an old crush or boyfriend from high school connects with you, it can cause some serious damage to your already fragile marriage. Feelings can arise when dormant relationships activate and your flesh may justify why pursuing that relationship is a good thing. Don’t be deceived.
It can deceive you.
Comparing ourselves to one another is also a growing problem. We see each other’s highlights of posted pictures online and thing we are missing out or we believe we are not good enough. All of a sudden discontentment for marriage or lifestyle seep into your heart and your find yourself unhappy. Things become dull, not good enough. All lies. Don’t let someone else’s highlight reel be a standard of measurement for your identity. Be secure in your identity and who you are in God alone.
These three things are the major problem areas to be aware of. When you use social media or browse the internet, be sure to be alert and on guard. Protect yourself and your marriage by agreeing with your spouse to boundaries. Limit yourself online to make time for your priorities. This is what I plan on doing.
My husband and I are not perfect at this by any means, but these are a few of the boundaries we have chosen to implement… We do not engage in online chats or messages with the opposite sex. If it is work related, we are both linked in to each other’s messaging. We also choose not to be online from 6pm-9pm so that we can be with our children during dinner and bedtime routine. We also give each other full access to any social accounts and emails that we have and we check them randomly. These boundaries are safeguards against the silent killer.
Also, know that you are setting an example for your children. They will see how you use your devices and how much time you spend on them and they will want to imitate you. By the time they are teens you will be wondering why the won’t connect with you. The question is what are modeling for them now? The same goes for your marriage. If in a few years you want a strong marriage, engaging conversations, affection abounding…the choices you make now will get you there.
I know the glowing screen, the notification, the craving to know more and consume will trigger your desire to be online. I get it. But please consider the impact of your choices to indulge. Resist the temptation to be addicted to your phone, to your computer or television screen, to your social media preference. Your personal relationships need you.
I tell myself this daily. Be fully present and take care of priorities.
Nothing, besides God, deserves my attention, devotion and love more than my family.
**Side note for those, like me, who use social media and technology daily for work, blogging, or research such as for homeschooling…I know the need you feel to be online. But please do not let your “work” override boundaries or your most important priorities. Don’t justify. Take time to pray and ask God to help you organize your day in regards to the boundaries you make. Your life will thank you years from now.