1 like… 8 likes… 20 likes… many of us know this routine all too well. Social media has the power to make us feel prideful, depressed, inadequate, happy, connected, too fat, too skinny, too poor… sometimes all at the same time! Personally, I am on Instagram: I really enjoy staying in touch with old and new friends. Unfortunately, I also find that it has the unique ability to suck me in and make me waste time looking at the pictures of someone I don’t even know.  Social media can be a fun way to connect with people and stay on top of current events, but the not so good aspects of social media are widely known.
I want to propose to all of us the following considerations to temper our own social media use and to give us conversation points with our children and teens as they use social media:
  1. Do I feel affirmed or rejected based on how people interact with my social media account? Do “likes” make you think, “Oh wow, I’m so pretty! My kids are so clever! My hashtags are so funny!” And conversely, is there some sense of rejection when your picture or post doesn’t get the recognition for which you were hoping? This is a very real way that adults and teens find identity in our culture today. How many followers do I have? People must like me. I must be popular and loved. Do I feel insecure based on comparison between myself and someone else? Here we find yet another example of the fallen human quest to find identity and significance apart from Christ. Family, our belonging and affirmation was won by Christ on the cross!  Remind yourself of that joyful wonder every day. People’s likes or indifference on social media ultimately means nothing!
  2. How much time do I spend consuming social media? I think most people would attest to the truth that social media platforms are a black hole that always suck more of your free time than you would desire, unless you’re incredibly disciplined. (Actually maybe I’m just speaking to myself here). Refuse to let yourself be drawn into the rabbit hole of spending more time checking things out than you intended. Just put the phone down and back up slowly! Think of hobbies which may have been crowded out by screen time- not meaning only social media- and seek to rekindle those loves.
  3. Has social media distorted my idea of relationship? My exhortation to all of us is that real life isn’t found in a screen! Real relationship isn’t developed through comments and emojis! Ask a friend to coffee, call someone to say you’re struggling, invite someone over to dinner.  Face to face relationships blow away virtual relationships.
I hope these simple questions will help you to critically think about your own social
media usage and give you things to think about and discuss with your kids and teens.  Social media has the power for a lot of good, and also a lot of evil. Let’s be God-honoring users!
Betsy Desch is wife to Associate Paster Josh, as well as the loving mother to four beautiful children.