How Can We Protect Our Kids in the World of Social Media?
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23
The words of Solomon in Proverbs 4:23 are such a powerful statement to all of us as believers. He told us to “guard your heart above all else.” I believe that this advice is not only for us as individuals but I have also always believed that as a parent it was my job to protect the hearts of my children until they were of age.
I also believe these days of the internet and social media that the job of protecting our children’s hearts has never been harder. What do we need to do to protect our children’s heart in this age of technology? One of the areas that our kids need help and accountability with is that of social media. Social media has created a secret world in which our children will leave a digital footprint that could follow them the rest of their life.
Social media allows our children to create connections and interactions that are not altogether healthy. One thing that is evident about social media is that people are more likely to say things online that they would never say in person. For example, one late night show host has a regular segment entitled “Mean Tweets” in which being mean to others in a Tweet is celebrated. Not a great model for our kids.
Also, students do not often realize the consequences of what they are posting in what they believe is their own private world. This spring, 10 students who were previously accepted to Harvard University had their acceptances rescinded because of their online social media behavior. Colleges are indeed looking at students’ social media footprints and most students do not realize it.
In addition, the idea of being secret and not accountable has also exploded inside the social media app called Snapchat. This is the app where teenagers know that their content is not available for all their “Friends” or “Followers” to see. You choose who you send messages to, and once it’s viewed, it’s gone forever… Or at least, it’s supposed to be. However, it is all able to be recovered as some teens have found out the hard way.
The Pew Research group has found Snapchat to be a primary venue for sexting and cyberbullying amongst teenagers. Parents need to understand that kids enjoy Snapchat, because “it is one of the only apps that is relatively private.” Even parents who do have access to their children’s Snapchat are unlikely to see the messages sent and received through the app.
So, how do we guard their hearts in these areas of social media?
Make sure that your student is old enough and mature enough to handle a social media presence.
Make sure as a parent that you have access to all their accounts and can see all that they post and who posts to them.
Finally, do not allow them to have apps such as Snapchat where they can be involved in things you cannot see.
Josh McDowell once stated that: “I would rather put a fence at the top of a hill than an ambulance at the bottom.” I pray that we would all put some barriers up in the areas of social media to guard the hearts of our children.