“Hey, what’s your Instagram?” Have you been asked that lately? I guarantee your teenager has! Is all this social media hubbub ok? How can we know?
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31
I remember the days when hearing “You’ve Got Mail” was the highlight of my week after waiting for the long dial-up tone (I had the pattern memorized). I also remember when I created my first MySpace account and would change out the “feature song” daily. I remember signing up for Facebook during its inception when I was in college. I now have an active Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and YouTube. I also manage T Bar M’s social media presence. You might say I’m “fluent” in all things social media. Needless to say, the landscape has changed quite a bit from the days of “You’ve Got Mail.”
Your kids likely know more than I do and are far more connected. Social Media is a world of its own, constantly changing and evolving. This is a forum the majority are participating in and the majority of kids want to be involved in. The implications are mind-boggling. It really is a double-edged sword. One edge a blessing, the other a curse. With guidance and direction the power of social media can be harnessed for our good and God’s glory.
Social media is here to stay. Rather than completely isolating our children from this world, how can we set healthy boundaries on social media use for the younger generations?
- Research continuously. Social media today looks dramatically different than it did even one year ago. It’s important to stay informed. It has a language all its own, and your children are fluent in it.
- Communicate openly. People often fail to understand social media is just as “real” as face-to-face interaction. It is public, charged with personality, politics and opinions, and above all permanent. Create rules or a contract governing how, when and how often your kids are allowed to participate in social media. You wouldn’t give them keys to the car without first teaching them how to drive responsibly. Social media should be no different. If you see an inappropriate post from your child or someone else’s, discuss it with your child. Help them understand proper use and its implications, rewarding them with more independence as they earn and maintain your trust.
- Connect and set the example. Sign up for your own accounts and participate. You’ll start to speak the language on your own. Not only will you see what your kids are posting, more importantly, you’ll be setting an example of how to use social media responsibly. At the end of the day, helping youth develop healthy social media boundaries is about modeling, staying involved, and having a presence.
Scripture tells us that in whatever we do, we should do it all for the glory of God…including what we do and say online. What are practical ways you can use your social media to bring glory to God? How can you be a witness for Him through the use of your online activity?