If you’re a parent, chances are you’ve heard the hype around raising the first generation of kids with smartphones. Like anything else, when we let our minds wander to the “what if” we will always land on worst case scenario outcomes. A great place to start is filtering information through the channels of our own beliefs and values.
1. Practice sacred stillness together
If we let it, social media can invade every sacred moments of stillness and dull our minds dulled needless busyness. Moments that used to be still are often replaced with mindless entertainment instead. Waiting in line, sitting at stop lights, waiting for friends to arrive are all perfect times to practice the kind of stillness that creates space for God to make himself known. Practicing stillness of heart and mind creates spiritual sensitivity to the the world around us.
“Be still and know that I am God.” (Ps 46:10) “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” (Ps 37:7)
We need people. Genesis 2:18 and the communal nature of our Triune God demonstrate this truth. But we need REAL people. In person. Social media has an odd way of convincing us we know people, or that we are getting to know people, without actually spending time with them. Not to mention there is less risk when you can calculate each response from behind a screen, instead of sitting face to face. Texting and social media interactions can mask our need for community through a facade of feeling connected. Ironically, the end result of this is isolation.
4. Procrastination Grows
Social media can provide a tempting escape from the demands of our often harsh daily realities.
5. Spiritual Alertness Fades
As a citizen of heaven, this world is no longer my home. I live in a state of war with the world around me and the ruler of it. As long as I live on this earth, I am on enemy territory. The worst thing you can do while in enemy territory is be distracted and inattentive. This is why Peter tells us to “be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) But all this contant screen-watching actually produced the opposite of this command: lack of self-control and spiritual drowsiness. Have you considered that constant distraction may be an insidious tactic of Satan? It’s an effective strategy on his part because nothing seems dangerous about checking updates from your friends.
Please hear me, I don’t think any of these apps are wrong or harmful in themselves. It’s the excessive use of them and lack of purpose that makes them harmful. Just as a diet of junk food results in poor health over time, so unrestrained and purposeless social media use breeds disorder in the soul. And, as in my case, this overuse usually happens so slowly that it goes unnoticed.
For you, it may go beyond what I mentioned here. You may feel lured to your phone to play Candy Crush or Words With Friends. Or you spend more time watching YouTube videos or reading blogs than you’d want your kids to do, and you’re not sure about the example you’re providing. Whatever it may be, it is never too late to develop vigilance against excess. As believers, we are empowered to live victoriously, with purpose and conviction, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. Whatever social media we use, let us “do it all for the glory of God” 1 Corinthians 10:31.
So talk to me in the comments! What does it look like to you to use social media “to the glory of God”? How can we teach our kids to be connected with purpose & self-controlled in their use of social media & apps for entertainment?