Social media and cell phone misuse is a problem for teens and adults alike. But our teens especially need guidance, wisdom, and the example from parents and trusted adults on how to navigate the temptations and dangers associate with these forms of technology.
2Tim2:2 says …flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness… From these few words in Scripture we can conclude that 1.)there is a sinful desire that is especially associated with youth 2.) we are to flee from it, and 3.) there’s something to be followed after, “righteousness.” A cell phone and social media is not a safe playground for teens to go unsupervised. There are things to flee from and follow after. It’s especially challenging for youth.
Here are a link to a post from Desiring God to help adults and teens raise our awareness to the dangers for us as Christians.
And here’s one from the Washington Post that will break your heart and scare the mess out of every parent who reads it. I’m honestly hesitant to share such a story, but I feel like sometimes we are failing to see just how serious this issue can be. My prayers are with this family.
I certainly don’t have all of this cell phone/social media stuff figured out for myself, or my kids. It’s a process. But here are 4 things I am working to “get better at” when it comes to my teenage kids and their cell phones and social media:
- Get better at saying no — Sometimes we’re more concerned our kids will be upset with us, than we are for their sanctification and well being. We can’t be governed by fear that they may resent us. W need to focused on being faithful to God and protective of them. There are some apps, media outlets, that should be avoided, and ungodly practices on “safe” media outlets that should never be done. Using the Bible as our standard, we need to be ready to say no.
- Get better at explaining why — “The answer is no because I said so” can be ok in the moment, but an explanation as soon as possible is very helpful. The older kids get the more they need to know the WHY behind the answers we give them. We don’t need to take their need for an explanation as disrespectful. It could very well be an effort to better understand and align with your decision. When explaining why, we should use applicable Scripture when possible and talk about God’s love and protection in His commands. Along with why, we have to be ready to acknowledge with them that “everyone else IS doing it” (maybe even people at church) but that doesn’t sway our decision. We have to explain that our goal is to be faithful to God and protective of them. (Explanation is also a good opportunity to pray with them about the matters being discussed)
- Get better at monitoring — We need to look through our kids phones, timelines, and messages often. If we’re not tech savvy enough, or don’t have the time to do that, then they don’t need to have the phone. Phones also need to be made unaccessible to teens at times. We don’t want our youth out driving around at 2am, OR cruising the internet at that hour. We need to keep their phones (and probably their car keys) with us at night. (There’s no full proof content protection plan but K9 Web Protection can be very helpful)
- Get better at setting an example — teens are like doppler radars for hypocrisy. Can you blame them? Don’t we all want authorities to go by the same rules we do? If I’m scrolling twitter, catching up on sports scores, and reading emails all the time, I can effectively say anything to my kids about their “screen time.” They need to be able to look to us for a healthy example of what to do, and what not to do. As with so many things, a good example can go a long way.
There’s a ton more I need to work on. It’s a work in progress. It’s very important that we stay in a healthy direction in this area. Which requires me to seek and submit to God and will, and that’s ALWAYS good.