Social Media and Your Teens!
By Susie Shellenberger
It’s rare to find a teenager today who isn’t involved in social media - Facebook, chat rooms, YouTube, and a plethora of other interactive mediums.
Most teens view the internet’s Facebook—and texting—as a fun and fast way to interact with friends. Yet most teens don’t realize that whatever they release is out there forever.
The Big Picture
Many universities have hired professionals to research what prospective students have released on the Internet. Tools such as “Way Back Machine” find almost everything that someone has released and students are being declined entrance into universities because of questionable material on Facebook or in a chat room during their teen years.
Imagine that your 22-year-old daughter is interviewing for her dream job and her would-be employer tells her because of photos she released when she was 17, the job won’t be offered to her.
Most teens don’t look far enough into the future to actually see the big picture. Their world is immediate. You can help your teen focus on more than today by discussing the affect this week’s posting can have a few years down the road.
Sexting: It’s Hot
Sexting is the act of sending explicitly sexual messages or photographs between cell phones. Combining a sensual photo with text messages is creating a sext.
Most teens will argue that sending these kinds of photos is simply for fun, but it’s actually illegal. Some teens, who have texted photographs of themselves or their friends, have been charged with distribution of child pornography. And often times those who have received the images have been charged with possession of child pornography. It’s a no-win situation.
What IS Important
Even more crucial than the fact that misusing social media can restrict acceptance to a university or bring rejection from a dream job is the ramification it brings to your teen’s character. If your daughter calls herself a follower of Christ, help her focus on becoming more like Christ rather than following the popular trends of youth culture. The bottom line is this: You care deeply about your teen’s relationship with Christ, where she’ll spend eternity, and her reputation. So how she uses or misuses social media really is a big deal!
Set the Example
Parents, you’re still in charge! Moms and dads who argue that putting too many boundaries around their teens will cause them to rebel, have forgotten that boundaries serve as protection! Set the example for your teens and love them enough to follow through on your social media rules.
Discussing Social Media with Your Teens
Spend some time discussing social media with your teens. Find out what sites they’re using. Monitor involvement on the Internet and phone. Ask the following questions for your discussion:
- Do you realize there are tools available for universities and corporations with a record of almost everything you’ve placed on the Internet?
- Are there texts, photos, or postings you wish you could retrieve?
- How can sexting ruin your reputation?
- Have you made it clear to your friends that you don’t want to receive off-color messages and photos?
- Think ahead. How would you react to being rejected at the college or university or dream job of your choice because of something you posted or texted in the past?
- Ephesians 5:1 tells us to imitate God. If we’re truly imitating Him, how will this affect how we use social media?
- Let’s read Philippians 4:8 together: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”