By Brad Harrub [Part 2 of 4]
Twenty years ago I would not have ever considered writing about social media—as it did not exist. Today it impacts almost everyone under the age of fifty. Even many people in their 60s and 70s are jumping on social media to keep up with their grandchildren. Facebook has 1.86 billion monthly active users. In the first quarter of this year Twitter averaged 328 million monthly active users. This is a massive influence in our culture—and yet, the church has been slow to respond to it.
How is it impacting your children or grandchildren? A study in March 2017 revealed that frequent use of multiple social media platforms caused feelings of social isolation. Think about that for a moment. We are the most connected generation of all time—yet we are more isolated that ever before. Many young people have lots of “Virtual” friends, but few real friends. Research published December 10, 2016 showed that using social media is associated with depression and anxiety. Add to this that suicide in young people is up 13% since 2010. Most scholars point to social media as the causative factor for this dramatic increase.
- Here’s what I intend on teaching my children about social media.
Your mom and dad grew up in a simpler time. We weren’t bombarded with dings and vibrations from a phone alerting us of every new Instagram or Facebook post. We had friends-real friends, who we rode bikes with-friends who were not constantly putting only their very best highlight reels out there for everyone to see. Social media is amazing in that you can instantly be connected to hundreds or thousands of people. You have information at the tips of your fingers. However, these conveniences can be intensely distracting and can get in the way of our duty to glorify God. Allow me to share several lessons I hope you will learn regarding social media.
- Lesson Five: Look people in the eyes when they are with you.
This one is a major pet peeve of your mom. When you look at your phone in the presence of others you are telling those around you: “You are not really all that important to me.” Can you imagine Jesus delivering His sermon on the Mount, while constantly checking His phone?
- Lesson Six: Use social media to encourage—not discourage.
Let’s be honest: Christians get enough discouragement. If you use social media please use it to encourage—be a Barnabas! “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,” (Hebrews 10:24)
Lesson Seven: They aren’t real friends.
There is a whole lot more to friendship than clicking “confirm” on Facebook. Do not measure your self-worth by the number of Facebook friends you have or the number of retweets you get. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). The right kind of friend will make you want to be a better Christian! Real friends invest time and energy into their relationship. Real friends listen. Real friends share common interests. Real friends tell the truth. Real friends protect us. Real friends overlook our faults. Real friends help bear our burdens. Real friends are loyal. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” (Proverbs 27:17).
- Lesson Eight: Avoid bragging.
In “real life” we don’t routinely unpack our awards and trophies for friends, neighbors, and coworkers to see. But with social media everything becomes a photo op, an opportunity to brag, and everything is used to promote your image. This bragging about what you’ve done, what you’ve eaten, trips you’ve taken gets old to those around you. Solomon wrote, “Let another man praise you and not your own mouth; a stranger and not your own lips” (Proverbs 27:2). Jesus warned, “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:1). If every one of your posts centers around you then you probably have a problem with bragging. Make sure your posts are humble in spirit (James 4:10).
I hope these first four of sixteen lessons (more next week) will come in handy as you navigate the waters of social media, and I pray you will use it in such a way that it strengthens your relationship with Him.
Published with permission from ‘http://www.churchofchristarticles.com