My wife and I are probably asked every day by our children, “Can I get a phone, can I get Instagram, can I get on the internet, can I play with your phone?” It has been easy for us to respond in extremes where we villainize Social Media as being evil, or mindlessly give ourselves and our children over to Social Media.
Over the last few months I have been reading up on how to engage this conversation with ourselves and our children, and wanted to provide some resources below. This is not an endorsement for these authors, or a presciption on what you should do, but it is an encouragement to prayerfully consider how you and your children are interacting with Social Media:
- Holy Spirit: Prayerfully ask for wisdom as you train your children to be in the world, and not of the world. You can’t start praying too early, and you can’t start this conversation with your children / self too soon.
- Your Identity in a Selfie World by Kristen Hatton: A short book that provides great gospel conversations over areas like comparison, body image, eating disorders, materialism, etc. Great to read through and discuss with your teenager.
- Feeding the Mouth that Bites You by Kenneth Wilgus: I wouldn’t recommend the entire book, but there are a few chapters that can provide helpful resources. Chapter 2: This chapter provides history of how the term “teenager” evolved. Parents and children should read and consider the framework we are creating for teenagers in our culture today. The expectations, and maybe where parents are failing to prepare them for adulthood. Chapter 5: Examples of what to do in specific events, but not very helpful until children are 14-16 years old. Chapter 6: Communication Styles of teenagers and parents. Who doesn’t need to grow in communication!
- A Parents Guide to Understanding Social Media by Mark Oestereicher: Again, I wouldn’t recommend the entire book, but there are a few chapters to consider. Chapters 4-5: It would be good for teenagers to read this chapters and discuss with parents. Chapter 6: Good for parents to read on their own. Chapter 15: Great for parents with children with ADHD and Anxiety, and influence by Social Media. Chapter 16: Agreements with Social Media, including details and specific ages.
- CBS: Why Can’t We Put Down Our Smartphones (60 Min: Dopamine): http://www.cbsnews.com/news/why-cant-we-put-down-our-smartphones-60-minutes/?ftag=CNM-00-10aab7d&linkId=36347832
Overall, parent and teenagers are going to fail with Social Media. We are in the Wild, Wild, West of technology, so remember God’s grace. He is for, He is with you, and He is inviting you to engage your soul and the souls of your children with a really difficult conversation. Trust Him!