Children and Social Media

By: Steve Huston

In a recent Epoch Times article entitled Social Media Isn’t Going Away, but Parents Can Equip Children to Resist the Harms, Erica Komisar, a psychoanalyst, parent guidance expert, and author shares links to several surveys regarding social media and our children and teens. It would be worth your while to read her article and check them out.

It’s no secret that there are many studies which confirm that social media is detrimental to the mental health of children, particularly teenage girls. Whether it’s the cruel bullying or light joking back and forth “just for fun” or unrealistic self-comparison, many a teenage girl never seems to measure up in her own mind. This can be because a parent’s innocent ignorance has failed to set a firm foundation for their child to build their  self-esteem on the fact they are created in the image of God and accepted by Him, or due to the heightened barrage of cruelty that social media lends itself to.

Regardless of the damaging qualities of social media on our youth and teens, its proclivity to propaganda, and its addictive nature which lends one to wasting time instead of redeeming it, social media is here to stay, so what’s a parent to do? There are many aspects of social media that we could address; but today let’s recognize some steps we can take in helping our teens ready themselves for the bullying and harmful self-comparison that often take place on these platforms and in the malleable minds of our youth.

First, and most importantly, help them to see that they have innate value as image bearers of God. They were created by a divine hand; that’s where their true value comes from, not the size and shape of their parts, abilities, or skills. Help them develop a healthy relationship with their Creator. Remember, we are fearfully and wonderfully made; Jesus died so that we could have a close and right relationship with the One who created us and all things; and we can prayerfully cry out to God even as David did, regardless of whatever circumstance they are going through.

Next, we must help them know that we, as parents, love them unconditionally. Focus on building strong, healthy family relationships. Have hard and open conversations with them, helping them understand that perfection is a myth, everyone has weak areas to work on, and yet, we are all worthy of love. From a young age encourage them to bring any size trouble to you; and together, find the answers in the Word of God. If you aren’t sure, be honest about it. Pray together that the Lord would lead you to the truth, go to your pastor or a trusted friend for help in finding the answer, and go back to your child/teen ready to have an open discussion, accepting that they will likely still need to work through things to make that truth their own.

Finally, put off social media as long as you possibly can, wisely waiting until their mid to late teens; and even then, limit it as much as possible. When they are participating in these venues, be a presence. You needn’t be looking over their shoulder all the time; but be aware of facial expressions, under their breath utterances, and changes in demeanor. This means you limit their social media time to public areas in your home. Do your best to be aware of new online friends and check online history to see what they’ve been seeing.

As always, bathe your children/teens in prayer, asking the Lord to guide, direct, and protect them. Ask Him to keep you aware and to help you in communicating with all your family members. It’s a tough job but an important one; they are souls entrusted to your care.

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