This is part 2 of the open letter to parents series. Scott Foreman authored it in June of 2014.
Does Social Media Matter?
This is part 2 of an honest, open letter to parents of teenagers. Read Part 1 here. Part three – How Are You Choosing To Disciple Your Teenager, written by Brad Smith – is available here. Contributions to this series are made from Rich Andrews, director of Word of Life Florida in Hudson, FL, and Scott Foreman, former director of Word of Life Canada in Owen Sound, and Associate Pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Sewall, New Jersey. Follow Rich on twitter here, and Scott here.
Part 2 – Does Social Media Matter? – Scott Foreman
Dear Parents of Teenagers,
Social Media is one the most important means of communication in today’s society. It’s just a fact that we need to embrace. As those who impact youth (like all forms of media) we need to help young people think ‘biblically’ about their lives so when they leave our protective influences they can make sound, Christ-honoring decisions.
There’s three things related to social media that we need to discuss: integrity, purity and accountability.
1. Social Media: Integrity
What is integrity?
Integrity is authenticity. It’s the real deal. The real deal is always the real deal. It’s making sure what you believe in is meshed with real life. If you believe something, you live it. You don’t present something that isn’t true.
We demand integrity in life. We demand and we expect people and things to be the real deal. For example: a chair, your doctor, relationships. Don’t we despise liars? And yet, when we don’t make a commitment to live a life of integrity we are living a lie. Did you know 1 in 8 lie on SoMe (Social Media) about social status, life events and activities. Often times we’re presenting something that isn’t actually true. So, living a double life or not living with integrity affects everything in life.
Everything that happens on Social Media is communication – it’s how you relate to the outside world.
How does integrity impact SoMe?
Check out what Ephesians 5:1&2 tells us about how we’re to relate to the outside world – how we’re to be consistent as God’s children to the outside world (and not fake):
“Be imitators of God” (v1). This means we’re not to present ourselves different than we are. Our character on Facebook is to be consistent. When we’re matching our character with God’s we can’t be something other than authentic.
“Walk in love” (v2). As Christians, our attitude towards others is to be an attitude of love. Facebook is a great means to communicate love – and I’m not necessarily saying just from guys to girls or girls to guys: I’m talking about having a loving attitude towards others.
“Gave Himself” (v2). In life, and especially on Facebook, our attitude should be to escalate others and dethrone us. We’re to be putting the interests of other first. On Facebook it’s usually the opposite.
“Sacrifice to God” (v2). Jesus’ life was not to promote Him, Jesus’ purpose was to glorify His heavenly Father. His life was a sacrifice to God – but literally and figuratively.
2. Social Media: Purity (Ephesians 5:3-5)
It almost seems like with every passing day it becomes harder and harder for a Christian young person to stay pure when using social media. The pictures reveal more. The words become more vulgar. If you don’t have a sensual post here and there you won’t get the ‘likes’.
- ‘Lisa’ says social media has changed how she thinks about guys: “We don’t date; we just hook up.”
- ‘Nathan’ has admitted to asking girls to send him revealing pictures.
- ‘Carrie’ said recently “Social media is destroying our lives.” The interviewer said “So why don’t you just go off it.” Carrie replied “Cause then we would have no life.”
What is purity?
Purity is, as God defines it, is abstinence from anything and everything sexual outside the bonds of marriage between a husband and wife. As a non-married person it is staying far away from anything and everything sexual, anything that has even a taint of sexuality.
We should care, because God has called us to be pure. When we don’t follow God’s design for purity and sex we are out of the will of God. Eph. 5:3. says that impurity shouldn’t even be named among us. Not even a hint (meaning: nothing sexual in what you look at, nothing sexual in what you joke about, nothing sexual in what you do in any of your activities – we’re to be clean from it: pure.
How does Purity Effect SoMe?
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, SnapChat, it can all be the vehicle to your impurity. Social media is bombarded and filled with things that can trigger impure actions and behaviors in your life:
- Just because you may not see blatant hardcore pornography on Facebook, soft porn is no different as far as what it does to you/your relationship with others and the Lord.
- Some of you know which friends you have on Facebook that you can go to and look at their pics while they’re in their bathing suites or posing in a sexual way and you give in and go to those profiles, like and comment on those photos and take pleasure in viewing those things.
If that is you, you are guilty of feeding your desires and not fulfilling God’s plan for your purity. It is time to get serious about the things we look at and how we respond to the subtle things on the Internet. Spiritually, it is time for us to grow up – and stop acting like little kids when it comes to taking God seriously.
3. Social Media Purity: Accountability
Sometimes we could use a little help if we struggle in these areas and other areas concerning integrity and purityâ€¦
What is Accountability?
It’s about welcoming challenge from another individual/group regarding a personal goal in order to better achieve it. It’s other people asking what’s up, helping you keep your goals of integrity and purity (or whatever goal).
Why is it important?
We all know we struggle in an area…yet we often go at it ‘alone’. God has put people around us to help us! God can use GOOD Accountability: Proverbs 27:17 talks about “iron sharpening iron” and how one man sharpens another.
How to do Accountability on SoMe
It comes down to three things:
1. Add the right people
Add Mom and Dad; Add the Youth Pastor
2. Ask the right people
Growing, gentle spirited, mature, not a blamer
3. Allow the right people
Be consistent with your SoMe relationships.
So it’s decision time when it comes to your Social Media interactions. Think about your integrity, purity and accountability. Can you think of some changes you might need to make?
Scott Foreman was the Executive Director of Word of Life Canada at the time this was written.. Scott and some his team of youth ministers (Tyler Oldrieve and Kevin O’Boyle) developed this content for this subject for the young people they minister to on a regular basis. Scott is now serving at Fellowship Bible Church in Sewall, New Jersey.