“Do you allow your children to go on social media?” As a Christian stepmother of a teen myself, I have been asked this question a few times so far. My answer is always the same: yes, but with boundaries.
I know that some parents have asked me this question out of genuine curiosity, but others are just looking for another opportunity to judge or mock me for my “strict beliefs.”
I don’t think that there is anything wrong in getting the bible’s perspective in every decision we make. Even if we do not think the bible can help us with modern advancements such as technology, there are scriptural principles that tackles every new development that arises in this world.
Instead of being wary when asked about my views on social networking, I am now prepared to defend my parenting decisions based on the bible.
In this post, I’ll share with you the scriptural gems I found and used to explain to my stepchildren how the bible can help them make wise decisions when it comes to social networking. But what exactly does social networking involve and who uses it?
What is Social Media and Who Uses It?
According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, social media involves,
forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos.)
Today, we know the most popular social networking platforms and apps include Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest and more.
Generally, people believe that young people have the monopoly of social media. In a previous post discussing the main attributes of Generation Z (people born between the years 1995-2012, right after Millennials,) I discuss in more detail the role social media plays in the lives of teens. You can read that article, 4 Ways the Bible Can Benefit Generation Z.
However, we are finding that more people are signing up, downloading and spending a lot of time on social media regardless of their ages. While some people, including Christians, prefer not to engage in these platforms, others have found them useful.
As with any form of communication, I have found that there are advantages and disadvantages when using social media. From my bible research, I’ve found social networking can be helpful if we do not abuse it or fall into social media traps.
The Benefits of Using Social Media
Personally, I have family and friend spread out around the world; throughout the Caribbean, the United States, Canada and London. For me, one of the major benefits of using social networks is to connect with them no matter where I am, or where they are.
I love that you can take advantage of the mobile data plans or free Wi-Fi and stay up to date with everyone through this inexpensive and sometimes free avenue.
I also find it convenient to share the news with everyone in one forum instead of having to contact each person individually. For example, if I’m traveling and want to share photos, I can upload them to my Facebook page and send to everyone with one click of the mouse.
Another example is that recently my older sister had a beautiful baby girl named Serenity. As Serenity achieves each major milestone in her short life so far (crawling, walking, eating unrecognizable baby food, saying her first words etc.) my sister posts them on Instagram and shares with everyone.
I’m sure you have also found social media to be handy when sharing info with a group of people. Teens take advantage of using social media platforms but how can they use it the right way?
The Bible Can Help Teenagers Use Social Media Wisely (Colossians 3:20)
Teenagers use social media for EVERYTHING! They post on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram from sunup till sundown. They share what they are eating, drinking, wearing, they share when they are happy, upset, they meet friends online and break up with them online.
Instead of watching the news, they get their world event updates via social networks.
I have a teenage stepdaughter and two teenage nephews, and I must admit, their phones are permanently attached to their hands. What has been my bible advice to them? I have shared with them the warning found in the bible book of Colossians chapter 3 and verse 20,
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. (Christian Standard Bible)
How can this scriptural gem help teens? Based on the post mention earlier on how the bible can help Generation Z, young people feel that they know everything.
This is especially so when it comes to anything dealing with technology. They feel that their parents don’t understand what they are going through today.
However, that scripture is telling teens the opposite. Parents know exactly what is best for their children. When it comes to social media, if parents implement boundaries, training them on the right ways to use it and their children obey, everyone benefits.
And as that scripture ends by saying, our Lord will also be pleased with the harmony in the family.
For teenagers, social media can be a great platform to share cool ideas, interesting posts or helpful videos with others. They may come across an inspiring video, post a joke, or check to see what their family and friends are up to.
But not only can social media help us in our personal lives, it can also help us professionally.
Social Media Can Help Your Business
If you have your own business, I’m sure that you have taken advantage of social media as free or inexpensive marketing tools. You may use social platforms to advertise items you want to sell, show testimonies of people using your products or post videos explaining your products or services.
Some Christians may work in the marketing or advertising departments of their company. In these areas, social media is used to promote a company all over the country and in some cases, the world.
As mentioned, social media platforms allow you to freely get the word out on what your business offers.
Recently I am noticing that some social media platforms have paid promotions and advertisements where they charge a small fee to extend your advertising reach to their users. This can also help grow your business.
Whether you use social networks for business or pleasure, social media is fun, easy and reaches a huge audience.
How Can Christians Use Social Networks Wisely? (Philippians 4:8)
As Christians, we need to be balanced in all areas of life. This includes how and when we use social networks.
We should keep in mind one thing if we do decide to use social media, we need to ask ourselves if what we are sharing with others is positive. Will it inspire and motivate people? Will it make our God happy?
I believe the advice giving to us at Philippians chapter 4 verse 8 sums up how our interactions should be, whether it’s in person or online. That scripture states,
Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things. (Christian Standard Bible)
When we use social networks, we always want to be true, honorable, just, pure, lovely and commendable. Other people hold Christians to a higher level and may be watching our conduct on social media. Our social media presence should always be with moral excellence and praiseworthy.
Do You Take Advantage of Social Media? (Mark 6:31)
Whether you want a convenient way to share updates and photos with your close family and friends or to promote your business, social media can be a convenient tool to use. Although some Christians may hesitate to use social media, feeling that it takes away from the spiritual routine, others use it to relax and stay informed.
What other positive ways do you use social networks? I would love to hear your suggestions in the comment area below.
What I appreciate about Jesus example is that he always put spiritual things first. However, he also took moments to unwind and be social with his disciples. In Mark chapter 6 and verse 31 we read,
He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.’ For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. (Christian Standard Bible)
This shows that we should never feel guilty for taking time out to enjoy ourselves. If social media is one of the ways you enjoy yourself, knock yourself out!
But before you make up your mind if being on social networks is right for you, there is a word of caution. These positive advantages of using social media can turn dangerous when used incorrectly.
In part two of this series, Should Christians Use Social Media, I will discuss the disadvantages of using social networks along with how we can avoid those pitfalls.
Thank you for digging into these scriptural gems with me! Do you know of any other scriptures that can help you decide if social media is right for you? Please share in the comments below!