And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I Corinthians 9:25
Most people have some form of connection to the internet and social media today. With mobile phones, and tablets of all kinds, we are living in a wirelessly connected world. How does it affect the human brain and body? How does the constant connections with other “digital people” in a virtual world affects us and our children?
Dr. Keith Ablow, a secular news commentator with articles frequently posted on Fox writes: “For some time now, I have noted that young people— including adolescents, teenagers and those in their 20s— are disconnected from the reality of their own existences. Facebook, Twitter, Tinder and the like have made them think of themselves as mini-reality-TV versions of themselves. Too many of them see their lives as a series of flickering photos or quick videos. They need constant doses of admiration and constant confirmation of their tenuous existence, which come in the form of Facebook “likes” and Twitter “retweets.”
This substitution of media for real meaning has not only been shown to weaken their self-esteem and their ability to sustain themselves through adversity, but it can cheapen the value they assign to life in general— including their own lives. If all the world is a stage of pixels, and young people see themselves as their tweets and Snapchat photos, then taking a fist-full of pills could seem like no more than the equivalent of shutting down a Facebook account or turning off an iPhone. Call it, “Suicide by Social Media.””
Dr. Ablow is on to something.
Recently our family eye doctor told us there has been an uptick of children getting glasses sooner than normal. Their eyes are adjusting differently than generations past because they are so accustomed to holding a screen inches from their eyes. We are a new society focused primarily on the next image on our little screens.
“Moderation” is a good word for diet and eating, but also for our media consumption.
1 Corinthians 9:25 is a terrific verse to know and apply to our everyday lives. “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.”
If the athlete is “training for the mastery” he is limiting the outside distractions that would hinder him from becoming a master as his particular sport. This is why we hear of sensational athletes choosing one sport over another sport. It is so they can become a professional at one sport and be the best they can be at it. One may decline football so he can become better at basketball.
The Lord gives us the answer here concerning the amount of time and attention we give to social media. While we are social creatures, our primary reason for being alive today is to glorify the Lord and to make Him known. We are to serve Him and tell others about Him. One good use of social media is to tell others the Gospel.
However, the teenager and adult whose nerves are pulsating with heart beating, waiting for the next “like” or “friend” have their spiritual and emotional heart in the wrong place. As Christians we find our fulfillment in Jesus; both emotionally and spiritually.
Here are some ideas to help:
- Control social media; do not let social media control you. Sometimes the things we love most take the most time. Give more time to the Lord.
- Embrace face to face relationships and value the person in front of you more than a screen. Turn off the screen, look someone in the eye. Open your mouth and say something. Give a moment for a response and listen with your ears. Repeat. I have to practice this too!
- Turn off the device, tv, or cell phone at night. Some choose to not have the source of temptation close to them, to help them get away from it for a bit. This is a good way to “rest the nerves” if you are inclined to wait for the next social endorsement.
- Children and teens should not have access at night. Help your teens with this. Avoid allowing them to take a phone or computer in their room at night. Many tweens and teens with cell phones report a lack of sleep primarily caused by tapping on a screen most of the night. Most trouble today with teens is caused or contributed to by unrestrained social media. Set limits for your kids.
- Moderation goes a long way. Some mothers gush and blush in front of face-book while their child is crying or their attention. Some dads sit or snooze in front of a screen while there kids need time with him. Set limits for yourself too.
- Know the score. Know who your kids are talking to. It happens too often; a young person runs off with a stranger they met on social media and end up abused or dead. I read about it happening again last week. Know and keep access to both the device and the accounts of your kids and your spouse. Yes, spouses should share this information.
Always know: Our value does not come from how many “likes”, “friends” or “connections” we make. Colossians 2:10 is such a helpful verse that builds our esteem and value: “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.”
We are valuable to God because we are created in His image. Jesus loves you.
When we turn to social media for emotional satisfaction, in a way, we are creating false idols that we hope will meet our needs. Our spiritual and emotional needs are only truly met in Jesus. “Moderation” is a good for diet and eating, but also for our media consumption.
How is your media moderation today? Too much? Need to control it better?
Be bold to make the recommended adjustments in your lifestyle.
Glorify the Lord with how you utilize social media this week.