”Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”
Recently, our daughter MaryAlice celebrated her 13th birthday. She has been anticipating this milestone birthday for months. Becoming a teenager is so exciting for her, especially because she is now of age to have a social media account. But, John and I have been dreading this day of her entry into the social media world. As adults, we see the many dangers connected with inappropriate use and over-use of social media.
First, let me offer a disclaimer. I am not against social media. As long as boundaries are established and maintained, I personally feel as if social media has many positives.
Many of MaryAlice’s friends entered into the social media world earlier than she did. For us, this was a personal parenting conviction, one governed by the fact that the social media accounts required users to be at least 13 years of age. Also, John and I were still trying to help shape many principles and establish positive self-esteem practices within our home with her. We were not eager to allow the social media world to help us parent those areas of her life. Honestly, we didn’t feel as if her brain was mature enough to process and understand many things that she would view or read. We simply chose to guard her from them.
A recent article from Common Sense Media states,
“According to a report published by Common Sense Media, …70 percent of teenagers (13-17) check social media several times a day, up from just 34 percent in 2012. More astoundingly, however, 16 percent of today’s teens admit to checking their social feeds nearly constantly and another 27 percent do so on an hourly basis.”
Another alarming statistic comes from A Parent’s Guide to Today’s Technology by Focus on the Family. Psychology professor and author Jean Twenge wrote, “It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades, much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones.”
As a momma, these are alarming statements- they make me question, why John and I gave her permission to enter the social media world. John and I firmly believe in establishing boundaries for our children based upon the Word of God. Period.
I immediately questioned whether John and I had prepared MaryAlice for the social media world we gave her permission to enter?!?
So let me ask you, on a scale of 1-5, where would you rank yourself in preparing your children for the concerns associated with social media?
0=I didn’t prepare them at all.
5=They knew and agreed to family social media guidelines.
Because our American culture has changed as a result of social media, we must be proactive in parenting our children from the foundations of God’s Word, not the world.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
As parents, we should constantly be searching for biblical truths in training our children (Proverbs 22). As we discussed in “Mommahood”, God’s Word should be prominent in our parenting.
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
God’s Word is and should always be our foundation for parenting. If the opinions of your mother, your friend, your daughter’s friend, the culture… do not align with God’s Word, don’t follow their advice. It leads to destruction.
With that, here are four “app”lications you can download into parenting your teen.
App 1: Investigate
Parents, do your research! Get an account of the social media app your teen has or wants. Become familiar with using the app prior to allowing your child to have it. Google statistics about the app: the good, the bad, and the scary. Be informed about what you are giving permission for, and why you are giving that permission!
App 2: Regulate
Set boundaries for use and which social media tools they may have. Designate a “screen shut-down” time and participate in that with them. In the McVey house, we have a firm “No phones at the dinner table” rule, and his rule is difficult for the adults. However, at the end of the day, God has entrusted those children in your care and we all need to remember to honor them.
Also, regulate their phone use in general. Have access to their phones. Remember you are their parent, not their friend.
App 3: Educate
Teach your kiddos how to use the media you allow. I wanted MaryAlice to understand the weight of her words. I honestly prayed over this, and we found our guidelines in Philippians 4:8. We have told her before she posts, comments, or even “likes” a post, it must pass the Spiritual Tater TOTTs test. Is it true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and/or of good report? She should always Think On These Things!
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
App 4: Communicate
TALK to your teens. Communication must be continuous. Not only should we talk with our teens about their day and their friends and school, we should also encourage them to talk, live, in person, and (gasp) without a phone. Encourage less texting, less commenting, less everything involving the phone. Set this example for them. This is hard for me, but I have to be intentional to set the standard for my children.
The more conversations you and your children have, the more opportunities you have to know them and their hearts. I promise you, there are layers still yet to be revealed. Every chance you have, speak truth into their hearts and their minds.
Regarding social media and the power it can have over your children, continue to make it a priority to investigate, regulate, educate, and communicate about God’s love.
Time to Unfold
- Read God’s Word: Search the Scriptures regarding parenting. Underline, highlight, and begin memorizing His Word. I guarantee you will use it.
- Pray: Ask God to convict your parenting heart, shaping those areas to align with His Word.
- Do: Stay involved with your teen. God only entrusts them to you for a season. Continue investigating, regulating, educating and communicating with your teen.
- Repeat: Keep seeking God guidance as you raise your teen. He will bless your efforts.
Keep raising your tribe in the Word,
Heather McVey, a speaker and accidental writer, has a passion for connecting the dots of God’s Word. Her mission is focused on teaching women how to unfold the scriptures within their own life, encouraging and equipping them to walk worthy of their calling. Learn more about her in Meet Heather.