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September 1, 2014, 11:00 AM

Social Media & Trojan Horse

Most of us adults tinker in technology and try to accommodate it where useful. We can be tentative and somewhat awkward when it comes to technology.  We are not digital natives like our children.  We didn’t grow up with an iPhone in our hand or internet connectivity in our bedroom.  Social media was Entertainment Tonight on TV.  As such, many of us are not fully aware of what lurks out there, what are children are exposed to, what they are consuming or what they are producing.

Recently, my eyes were opened when I saw what some students had been posting, liking, & consuming online.  Suffice it to say, it did not represent an understanding that God is in us, with us, and that the material does not reflect God’s goodness or best for our lives.  I met with each grade from 7th to 12th grade to address this subject and offer some Biblical guidance.  Many of the students were not making the connection between their online life and their spiritual life.  They were not seeing the enemy inside the Trojan horse looking for an inlet into their lives.

Please note this not just for junior high/high school.  Many elementary kids are online and do not necessarily even know fully what they are “liking” or being exposed to.  Many simply “like” as a courtesy completely unaware or out of peer pressure.

Below are some guidelines I recommend for parents & students:

  • Recognize every form of social media is a pipeline into your child’s heart and mind.  Encourage your children to use Philippians 4:8 as a grid to evaluate content:

 

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Phil. 4:8, NLT)

 

  • Help them connect the dots.  Jesus tells us that all the good and bad we do flows out of our heart.  What we consume, “like,” post, and re-post says a lot about the state of our heart and our value system.  Everything we do should reflect our love for God and commitment to Him.  You cannot separate your online life from your everyday life.

 

  • Digital media ALWAYS leaves a foot print.  Online social media is never anonymous. Prospective employers, schools, scholarship committees all look at social media as an easy, inexpensive way to find useful background information on a person.  Nothing is ever private online.  Anything can be captured via “screen shot” or forwarded intentionally or unintentionally.  Never say anything, “like” anything, etc. that you would not want printed on the front page of the newspaper or announced on TV or read in front of your mother or father, or better, yet, the Lord.   

 

  • Know what social media your child is on.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat are just a few of the popular social media websites.  Snapchat is particularly interesting (And dangerous)  because it allows a person to post a comment then disappears after it is viewed virtually eliminating the trail of what has been posted.

 

  • Set guidelines for social media use.  Be very specific about when and where texting or social media posting is not allowed:

 

  1. never in class
  2. never at meals 
  3. never overnight 
  4. never while driving 
  5. never while walking 
  6. never to cheat 
  7. never for sexual messages 
  8. make sure to point out this includes reading texts as well as sending.

 

  • Establish clear consequences for misuse. Confiscate the phone/tablet for a period of time. Then limited use for a period after they get it back.

 

  • Monitor social media posts. Text messages, posts, Tweets can go viral. Even Snapchat can have a screen shot and sent viral.  Therefore, they are not private.  You are not invading privacy by reading them. Have your teen give you their phone every night at least one hour before bedtime. This is your time to monitor their messages and phone use. Return their phone to them the next morning.

 

  • Teach that sexting by teenagers is a crime. It is child pornography and is a prosecutable crime even if they are the subject. Therefore it will not be tolerated whether they are the sender or receiver.

 

  • Embrace the technology yourself. 63% of parents believe texting/social media improved their relationship with their teen. Quickly check in with your teen with a "How are you?" "Where are you?" or "Need anything?" text.

 

  • Set a good example. Follow your own rules. Don't text your child in class if you don't allow them to look at texts in class. 

 

 

Shaping hearts and minds,

Dr. Chris


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