The landscape of social interaction for students has been under constant change for the past several years. Because of technology and social media, peer to peer contact looks vastly different from when most of us were in middle school and high school. The advancement of social media comes with pros, cons, and reason for caution. Most importantly, kids' use of social media presents a unique opportunity for parents to have authentic conversation with their students.
First, the caution. Social media gives kids (and parents) access to compare their everyday lives to the highlight reels of the people they follow. This "in your face" comparison can create insecurity around our identity in Christ. Along with comparison, kids have easy access to cyber bullying (common on twitter and snapchat), sexual temptation (common on instagram/snapchat) and a general disconnection from authentic relationship. I want to highlight snapchat as a platform to talk to your kids about, because it is important for kids to understand the gravity of what they send to their peers. Pictures that they hope will disappear can be screen-shotted and circulated, causing significant relational damage. Snapchat also is used to show live pictures and videos of what students are doing, or what material things they have. This is significant because it can make other students feel left out (whether the snap was intended to leave kids out or unintentionally made them feel that way), or could cause students to feel like they need certain material things in order to "fit in."
Second, the opportunity. As parents, you have an incredible opportunity to talk to your students about social media. Often, students are a lot more comfortable hiding behind the screens of their phones and are willing to say things on social media platforms that they likely wouldn't say in most face to face interactions, You can encourage your students to be who they are, in face to face interactions as well as on their social media platforms. More so than that, you can have conversations affirming your students regarding their value as created sons and daughters of a king. Who they are in Christ is more than who they are on social media.
As a church community, we will continue to challenge students on the topic of social media, and how they relate to others. Ultimately, we want our students to know that their identity can be rooted in the God who created them, and doesn't need to rest on how many twitter followers, instagram likes, or snapchat streaks they have. Relationship with others can flow more freely when we know who God created us to be.
If you have any questions about specific social media platforms, or would like tips in talking to your students about social media, please email
, Student Ministry Director or
, Middle School Pastor or
, Preteen Pastor.