"Toddlers & Snapchat Don't Mix" And Other Reasons To Put The Phone Down


The wailing and shrieking from Little Magician's room woke me out of my sleep at 3am the other night.

There's her usual whiny cry when all she wants is some company or someone to pull her blankets up under her chin (still a ploy for company, since she's more than capable of tucking herself in) - but this? This was different. Something was wrong.

I found her sitting straight as a board on the edge of her bed, hair bonnet askew, trembling and crying - and when I asked her what was wrong, all she could do was raise a little arm and point at her dresser.

"The monster...the monster is right there with the googly eyes!"

I patted her back and said,  "Baby - I don't see one. There's no monster there."

She nodded furiously and cried "Yes, mommy! The monster is there with eyes like our silly face pictures!"

And that's when I realized it was Snapchat's fault that I was up, trying to calm her back to sleep at 3am.

Lately, I've been working on limiting the mental noise that comes with excessive social media use. I love the connections that come from it, but recognize when I need to tap out from the constant influx of opinions and discussions and annoyances that exist across the mediums.

I'll take a week off of social media here and there, but what I'm really working on is limiting my screen time before bed. It's too easy for me to succumb to FOMO and the "let me just refresh the TL one more time" reflex - but as research has shown, it's a much better sleep hygiene practice to leave the phone alone for an hour or so before bed.

But silly me. I've gravitated to Snapchat because it's a fun way to engage without being inundated by others' opinions, and Little Magician gets way too much enjoyment out of the filter feature on there. I thought Snapchat was safe, but that 3am wake up call - and other such events - have proven otherwise.

There's the time she slapped the make-believe flower crown off her head so hard she almost cried.

Then, the time she nearly broke my real glasses because she tried to snatch the Snapchat filter glasses off my face.

Then, the time she had a meltdown because she kept opening her mouth, but her dog filter tongue wouldn't come out.

Then, there's the fact that she knows exactly how to get to Snapchat and its filters on my phone, and nearly snapped a (somewhat blurry but still slightly inappropriate) pic of me to my public story.

After these near-accidents and 3am freak-outs, I can see that the effort I put into managing my social media use will help her just as much as it helps me.  We clearly both need the sleep hygiene assistance so that social media doesn't continue to seep into our subconsciousness the way it so effectively has.

It's funny how our kids can motivate us to do better for ourselves than our own self-assessment. With that being said, I'll definitely be renewing my efforts to put the phone, laptop, and any device with access to social media down well before bed. Hopefully I'll get a more restful sleep, and hopefully Little Magician will too, without the interruption of googly-eyed monsters dancing her her room.