In Defense of Screentime for Moms

Tuesday, September 13, 2016



Ever felt guilty about snagging facebook time while waiting for lunch to heat up in the microwave? Or checking email at the park?
There are a plethora of articles all over the internet about unplugging and minimal use of tech for moms. The message being that one cannot be present or "in the moment" of parenting while having just checked email, sent off a text, or updated instagram.

Last week I wrote about the kinds of screen time I like my kids to have. Because my oldest is only four years old, I don't have the struggle of limiting computer use, smart phones, or other gaming time yet. However, *I* make use of screens all the time, and contrary to internet belief, I think you can use a decent amount of screentime and still be "present" as a mom.

In fact, I think using screens can make you a BETTER mom. Used properly, screen time can be a form of self-care.

Here's what I'm doing on my phone or computer every day.

Having virtual community

Y'all, motherhood can be really really isolating with little kids.

I'm part of a number of Catholic mom groups, blogger groups, and an NFP group where I can find support and answers to questions I have about everything from NFP methods, to technical blogger help, to comradery in the struggle that can be taking little kids to mass.

I've done spin off groups of women forming temporary internet communities to pray a novena together or have a mom's book club via message board.

Organizing Real Life community

Facebook is far and away the easiest way to check in with my family and friends. It's where I organize events like movie nights and park play days. Email threads are always going about future event ideas, planning liturgical celebrations for the little ones.

As great as virtual community is for filling in those gaps while everyone else is away at work or school, it can't bring meals after a new baby is born or give a real life hug.

Getting inspired to keep doing this

I know it's not true for everyone, but I LOVE seeing other people's perfect moments.
Those Instagram feeds where the room is clean and bright and the kids are calm and playing sweetly? It's like instant de-stresser for me.

Scrolling through Pinterest and seeing other people's ideas for new meals to try and organizing tips lights my fire to get my own projects done. Pinterest is particularly great because it's not just "look how awesome and pretty this turned out", it's also "and here's how to do it!"

Dwelling on how hard this motherhood thing is right now doesn't do anything for making it better. Trying something new, and finding a way out of the rut makes it better. Remembering that it can be different, that it's not completely crazy to want to not be drowning in clutter, makes it better.

What about people who struggle breaking away from screens?

Just like everything that we struggle to balance, some amount of awareness and discernment is needed for all of these things. Maybe you only use Facebook for a particular time a day. Maybe you set yourself a task to complete and then you close the laptop. It's all about building the discipline to use these things in a healthy way.

I argue banning screens, or shaming moms for using them, prevents the good that is possible from having access to a virtual community. In a time when motherhood is largely a solo state for 8+ hours a day, taking away the one easily accessible link to the adult world seems less than wise.

4 comments :

  1. I wholeheartedly agree! I think it's so important to "know thyself" when using screen time, to get the full benefit from it. If Facebook turns into an activity of "I'll mindlessly scroll and feel down about how 'perfect' everyone else's lives look," then it's a bad thing. But, like you, I enjoy seeing moments of perfection that others share because it inspires me to do better and spurs me into action! And for the most part, the only things I do when I get on Facebook now are check notifications and communicate with other moms in a Catholic mom group. Particularly since my husband has the car at work so we can't bounce around town to events during the day, I really enjoy the communication with other moms out there!

    I don't have any specific times of the days when I do or don't do technology, though I mainly only try to use it when Peter is napping, or if I need to walk with him a bunch and want to watch something as I pace the floor. It really depends on the day.

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    1. Exactly!
      We're in the same boat with no car during the day. Internet community is sometimes all you got during inclement weather (hello Winter!) or sick kiddos. Yea know, right when you probably need it most.

      It's also let me meet you and the other awesome women on here!

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  2. These are great thoughts! I would also warn, though, that for some moms (not you!), being so connected increases rates of depression - according to studies. Which, I can understand! If a mama struggles to not compare herself and the job she's doing with those "perfect ideas" other moms have, then maybe she should lessen screen time, for her mental health?

    The interconnectedness of everything becomes sticky - it's nice to find support. But, what happens when the support runs its course? Just a devil's advocate question!

    That said, the support can be so very beneficial; the ability to take a moment to breathe and check-out is helpful for me. And, for me, I like to share about my kiddos, and get too excited to just "wait until my husband gets home" - at the end of the day, I usually have forgotten the cute things they did, and then I'm left staring blankly at my husband, trying to remember! Hahaha! :-)

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    1. Social media use, like all of our potential tools, need to be used in the way that is most beneficial to you. If you're someone who is tempted into envy by looking at Instagram then no it's probably not healthy for you.
      I don't think support running it's natural course online is any different than real life friendships running their course. Not all relationships continue, and that's a normal natural thing to happen.

      What I don't want is the assumption that using social media is inherently bad for moms. That we will *definitely* over compare ourselves to each other or have internet mommy wars. That view is equivalent to saying that all women are catty and can't handle the internet. I think much more highly of women and moms than that. I would argue that isolation is a far greater risk to mental health than over-connectedness.

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