By Brad Harrub [Part 3 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 Nine: Watch out for envy and discontent.
Have you noticed that everybody else’s life looks better than yours on social media? This is because individuals normally don’t share the mundane or bad parts of their lives. As a result it is easy for someone to think that they have a much better life. Remember, you are only seeing part of the story. This “virtual” reality is unhealthy. It often causes you to start putting unrealistic expectations on your own spouse, children, and friends. Learn to be content like Paul in whatever state you find yourself (Philippians 4:11-13). Remember, covetousness is defined in Colossians 3:5 as idolatry.
- Lesson Ten: Don’t allow Facebook/Twitter/Instagram to stifle prayer.
You need to set aside down time to simply: “Be still and know that He is God …” (Psalm 46:10). Social media eats up time—time that you could be spent strengthening your relationship with God. In James 4:8 we read, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you …”
- Lesson Eleven: Conduct yourself on social media like you would in person.
Lots of people say things on social media they would never say in person, simply because they are on a screen they feel secure and hidden. It matters what your fingers type and one day you will be held accountable for every post and every text. There are Christians who post things they would never say out loud in public—but it is being read by hundreds if not thousands. You are a representation of the bride of Christ! You are supposed to be His servant. Please go back and read James 3, Matthew 5:13-16.
- Lesson Twelve: Don’t allow Facebook to blind you to false beauty.
Everyone looks good on Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram. Of course what you don’t see are the 20-30 images it took them just to get that perfect one. This false beauty may make you think you are beautiful and may encourage you to believe beauty is found in the outward appearance. “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’” (1 Samuel 16:7).
I hope these sixteen lessons 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’.