Social media and motherhood don’t always go hand-in-hand. The messages we receive when we scroll social media can sometimes be detrimental to having a healthy journey through motherhood.
Recently, I felt a prompt from God to take a break from my social media accounts for an entire month. For someone who repeatedly scrolls on impulse, I knew this would be a challenge. I would have to find new ways to cope with boredom, anxiety, and some of the challenges of motherhood. I knew for a long time that “doom scrolling” was not actually helping me. However, staying off of Facebook or Instagram for an entire month would prove to be a challenge.
What I found, though, significantly changed my perspective on the impact social media actually has on our outlook on life. Because I had no other choice, I found myself doing things I actually love more often: Reading, writing, crocheting, playing music, singing. These are the things that gave me joy, sparked creativity, and essentially gave me my identity before I had children. Before smart phones, before social media, these activities gave me life.
The Messages of Social Media
Part of my journey with postpartum depression has been that I felt like I didn’t know myself anymore. After the month off of socials, I realised that perhaps this is part of the key. When we are nursing our babies, or have a moment to sit down, our impulse is to pick up our phones and scroll. And what messages are we receiving? We receive messages of shame on the types of parenting decisions we make. We see constant reminders that other moms have well lit clean homes with babies that sleep and have the time and energy to bake homemade sourdough. Not to mention all the political and social justice messages screaming at us everywhere we look. In fact, the amount of content we see about motherhood has drastically increased since social media was invented.
The Impact on Our Mental Health
So what impact does social media actually have on our mental wellbeing? Excess social media use is linked to anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Ironically, those that use social media end up feeling more isolated. When we open the social media apps on our phone or any screen, the effect on our brain is the same as a slot machine. We don’t know what we will see, and when we start scrolling, we have a hit of dopamine just like the person gambling on a slot machine. And what happens? We want more and more and more. The more we scroll, though, the more we have these feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety.
Social media also leads to a fear of missing out on what is going on in the world of our friends and family or even the larger world of news. However, scrolling social media out of a fear of missing out is linked to procrastination, a higher level of stress, and less retention of information. As a whole, our attention spans are significantly smaller than they were even ten years ago. Much of this is due to the scrolling we do and the impatience we feel to get to the next dopamine hit.
What Can We Do?
What can we do about this dilemma? Am I asking you to go on a month long social media fast like I did (and will continue to do every quarter)? Not unless you feel like you need to! If you think you’re on socials to the extent that your mental health is taking a hit, think about when you are on your socials for a specific purpose and not just “doom scrolling.” Schedule those times or set a timer for those specific times per day. There are apps that help limit your time (although I find these hard to stick to). Maybe use social media time as a reward for important tasks to get done around the house or make sure you’re spending an equal amount of time with your children when they’re around. I try to make it a point to put my phone down any time one of my kids are talking to me. If you have any more ideas, help a mama out and comment below.