Most parents we talk to are not only worried about what social media is doing to their kids — they worry about what it is doing to them as parents.
You don't have to look far to see moms ignoring their children while they look at Instagram, or dads so distracted by their phones that they seem oblivious to a child who is asking them something.
A couple of our daughters have joined moms groups that have made pledges to leave social media altogether because they have realized it is taking their attention and their time away from their kids. Other parents we know are trying ways to govern their own phone use and to be off social media when they are with their kids.
But most won't get very far with their self-imposed bans. The fact is we depend so much on our smart phones and rely on social media to keep us up to date in so many ways, that going off of it cold turkey, or even banning it completely when our kids are around, is simply not realistic for most parents.
Hats off to those who can do it, but if you don't think you are one of them, consider that the answer is not in stopping social media use all together but in finding a reliable way to be more selective in what you look at and who you follow, and in looking first at things that get your attention focused on your kids.
Maybe there is another way — a way social media can be organized and sequenced and prioritized so that it actually makes you a better parent rather than a worse one.
What if every time you went to your Instagram account, the first thing that came up was the latest posts from family members along with a post or two of quick parenting advice or a cute kids interaction picture or a motivational quote about family? What if these family-focused things always came up before the fashion or the travel or the gossip or the million other things that try to distract you from your kids?
And what if, when you open Facebook or Pinterest or Twitter, the first thing that appeared was family stuff — parenting ideas and tips from other parents, along with any tweets or pins from your own family members? What if you could set it up so that you don't get to the non-family stuff until you scroll through the latest family stuff?
And what if you even got a notification every time there was a post from a family member or from a parenting source you trust?
You can set up your social media accounts to do exactly this — to show you the things you want to see first, and to notify you when something comes in from someone you are following who you have designated as family helpful.
Here's the how-to in a nutshell:
In Instagram: Make a list of family members you are following and of helpful parenting sources. Then, on each one:
Go to their profile
In the top right, tap
Tap Turn on Post Notifications or Turn on Story Notifications
In Facebook: Make a list of family members you are following and of helpful parenting sources. Then, on each one:
Go to their profile
Tap the following button
Select See Firstto have their posts appear at the top of your news feed
In Twitter: Make a list of family members you are following and of helpful parenting sources. Then, on each one:
Allow Twitter notifications on your device in your device settings
Go to their profile on Twitter
Click the bell icon by their profile picture
Select All Tweetsor Tweets With Live Video
Take control of your social accounts. Force them to show you the family helpful stuff before they show the family distracting stuff. Make social media work for your family rather than against it.