Each week, I try to do a blog post on various topics. This week is on Social Media and its effects on our students. After doing a series with our high school students, of which social media being a part, I thought I would share some of my findings and how we can respond with you. You can see my other related blog post at fruitcove.com/how-social-media-can-ruin-your-teens/. I hope this encourages you to be aware of how it can effect your teen and what steps you can take to prevent some of the negative effects.
The Evils of Social Media… Part 2
2 Weeks ago, I wrote a post about what I believe can be a trap and disaster for many teens: Social Media. Teens who operate social media unfiltered, inexperienced, and unaccountable is a disaster that will happen (not waiting to happen). I would like to offer a short follow-up to that. In the last post, we identified the problem. Now we must answer how we as parents can help our teens honor God FIRST and be safe on social media second. Here it goes…
- Follow them. There is no good reason for a teen NOT to be followed by their parents on social media. See what they post, see what they share. This will do 2 things, 1- hold them to a standard of what to share and 2- help you to see what they their peers are talking about. Also don’t like or comment on their posts. Trust me when I say its just better this way.
- Monitor them. Have a weekly or bi-weekly unannounced time where you go through their phones and computers. Tell them you are doing it, and have them sit with you when this occurs. I believe there is great value in doing this when they are around, not in secret.
- Talk with them about what is appropriate and not appropriate as it comes up and as you see it. A win is your teen coming to you and asking what you think about post. Another great way to talk with them is when a friend of theirs, that you know, posts some crude or shady and talks about it. Ask your teens thoughts and discuss it.
- Offer Grace. As we say ALL THE TIME at r12 Parent Worship – TEENS ARE SINFUL. As parents we MUST be able to discern between when to bring the hammer and when to just correct. There are times you need to look at your teen and say that was silly/dumb, take that down AND there are times when you need to take the phone/computer away and lock them in a dungeon for a few years. If we want them to grow up, give them freedom but allow them to make mistakes. Just be ready to offer grace.
- Look at what they follow, favorite, retweet and post. Go deeper than what you see them post; see what they value. Who and what they follow and who and what they favorite call tell you a lot about that they care about. If your teen is always tweeting about pizza, that means they love pizza. If your teen is always posting about dating/sex/relationships/boys/girls that means they are into something else.
- DON’T stalk (follow) their friends… but DO frequently look at their pages/posts and see what they are putting out. Not stalking their friends will get you some credit with your teen. But doing research is what a smart parent does. So do your research, know who you want your teens around and who need to be shut out.
- Snapchat is weird. Plain and simple, Snapchat is an app that lets them take pics that others can view for 1-10 seconds and then they are “deleted.” I would have a healthy discussion with your teen about the ramifications of an app like this. How, what can be sent and what they can send can impact for eternity.
- Honor God. The goal must be in all this to honor God. Social media is fun and can be useful and it is yet another tool that we as parents can use to teach out children about honoring God. One of the greatest lessons we can teach our children is that we are not worried about what others do/have done. We honor God even if we are standing alone.
- Read: “SCREEN AND TEENS” by Kathy Koch. It is $10 on Amazon and $4 for Kindle/paperless. Dr. Koch was recently on Focus on the Family discussing social media and teens. She has incredible insight and VLOG’s quite frequently. Check her out here: www.drkathykoch.com
- Don’t be a hypocrite. As parents we must be faithful to practice what we preach. If your teen sees you/catches you viewing thing online that do not honor God (porn/violence/etc…) then all you have to say about what they look at goes out the window. We CANNOT be parents who say “do as I say, not as I do”. Jesus said follow me. Parents should respond in the same way, “follow my example.”