We live in a social networking world. We are bombarded constantly by apps and social networks! Immediate response presents opportunities and challenges. One of the challenges is learning how to help students and parents navigate how to use social networking wisely. Social networking is a great tool to use for God. But, many times it is an extension of our daily baggage. It can easily turn into expressing hurtful comments, anger, and filthy language. It also presents the question of modesty of what pictures should be posted for everyone to see?
Tips for Parents:
- Do you protect and educate your family on how to use twitter/Facebook? If so, have conversations teach them to use social networking as a tool for the gospel! Ask, "how can you use twitter to grow in Jesus?" or "have you thought about posting verses you are reading or memorizing on twitter/Facebook? Think of focusing upon, "what is the wise thing to do?" If you are not using twitter or Facebook, I urge you to learn and stay current.
- Lead students to become peacemakers on social networking. If there is conflict, don't run to the phone or laptop! Teach them to follow God's plan for resolving conflict (See Become a peacemaker). Teach them to go and talk in private with whoever they have a conflict with in their life. Social networking is not the place to handle confrontation.
- Help stop Cyber-bullying. Students use Facebook/twitter to bully and put down others. Students will many times post hurtful comments to a person without using their name at the same time knowing that person will read it. It is a way to slander someone publicly and not even use the person's name, but know this, that person received the message. From there it gets worse and the madness worsens and the drama builds and builds.
- Talk to your student(s) about what is appropriate to post online. Be proactive and not reactive by having an ongoing conversation of the importance of healthy interaction online.
Encouragement to students:
- Social networking is a tool. Use it for God! Write out your testimony and post it as a Facebook note or blog post. Look at all areas of your life as an opportunity to spread the gospel.
- If you are angry, think and pray before you write. Are you mad at a certain person? Have you talked to them privately about what is wrong? Because let's be honest, when we tweet something to get back at someone, it never leads to conflict resolution.
- Share personal struggles to a friend, leader or parent. You might need prayer, encouragement and someone to talk too. Facebook/twitter is not a healthy place for us to work through struggles publicly. Find a person you can talk to in person.
- Connect with others and encourage them. Use social networking to encourage one another by sending a quick message, comment or tweet. Text a quick verse to your friends before heading to school in the morning.