I consider myself pretty blessed to have grown up in the 80s and 90s and into the early 2000s. I remember life before wireless phones, and even before cellphones (gasp!). I remeber the days of dial-up internet and thinking it was the coolest thing even. We had a clunky beige desktop, that was a top of the line machine back then, that sat in the corner of our breakfast nook....Oh the sound of dial-up kicking in. I remember when we got our first bag phone in the car back in the day.... you could make a phone call from your car! Those were the days! Fast-forward a few years, and i get my first little cellphone with a blue back-lit screen. A text message was a luxury and something you only used to tell mom and dad your sports team was delayed getting home or that you forgot lunch and that was about it. Senior year of high school everyone awaited getting registered at the college they would attend so they could get their .edu email address and sign up for this brand new thing called, Facebook (back then it was only for college students and had launched less than a year before I signed up). This was the start of social media and having parents who were in tune with changing technology, I was on the cutting edge of it all!
Today, social media has flooded our society. In many cases it has replaced truly being "social" with an imitation idea that we call social media. It is tempting to get irritated and just shut it all down or even refuse to get into any of the other social media platforms. With the ever evolving and growing world of social media, it can be frustrating, it can be overwhelming, and it can be a distraction. In everything there will always be negative feelings and ideas and there will always be benefits. You can curse social media all you want, but there are many GOOD things about it. It has opened a HUGE door for spreading the gospel, connecting to believers and friends around the world, and an avenue through which to minister to someone half way around the world that you may have otherwise been unable to reach 15 years ago.
While I see all the benefits the beast of social media has brought us, I am not blind to the way it has also helped to spread the work of the enemy. Pornography and porn related addictions are at an all time high and the average age a young man is first exposed to is 8 years old! Yes, these are terrible and horrible things being accelerated by social media and the internet at large. and we have a choice, we can say we want nothing to do with it, completely reject the society and separate ourselves like the Amish OR we can tackle it head-on and deal with the real issue, people's hearts and minds. Sadly, I'm seeing many peers and those older than myself rejecting it and refusing to have anything to do with the modern technologies. Arguments cover anything from conspiracy theories and "big brother" to "I'm just not tech-savvy" to "be ye separate." While, the world is having a blast using social media to spread their garbage.
What's really heart-breaking is that when parents refuse to stay current with the world we live in, they have, by default, set their kids up for failure. Many christian adults are refusing to connect with where the world has gone in technology, and all the while our young people are out there fully aware and current with the modern times and free to get exposed to all sorts of debauchery. I personally believe that a wise parent is one who takes every measure possible to guard their children and teenagers' hearts and minds from the wiles of the evil one. And, in our day and time, that means in the area of technology! In our effort to be disconnected with the evils of the world, we have become disconnected with the temptations and stumbling blocks our children face. As parents,God has given you a duty to guard and protect your children, to be fully equipped for their upbringing and development. If we are ignorant of the latest technology trends or social media platforms, we are unequipped for the job in today's culture.
Over the past year, God has been stirring this on my heart as my husband and I transitioned into being full-time Youth Pastors. I had come to a place where I was tired of social media, felt like it was nothing more than a hub of drama, debauchery, and just something not worth my time. As I started really delving into current issues teens face and connecting with our teens, I realized that I needed to step up my game as a youth pastor to be wiser and so when parenthood comes into play, I'm not left on the sidelines in the battle against the enemy for the hearts and minds of my children. It's time for parents to step up their game, I'm blessed that may parents were fully aware of what was happening in the ever changing technology and were very CONNECTED to us kids to prevent the enemy from having easy access to us. As I see now the things teens in general are facing, I see now more than ever that parents need to step up their game, need to be vigilant more than in decades past. There's a job to be done, we can't be disconnected any longer, we must be connected, alert, and aware of what our children have access to and have a knowledge on how to use and operate those things!
"so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes" - 2 Cor. 2:11 NLT"Be clear-minded and alert. Your opponent, the devil, is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8 ISV
Parents, Youth Pastors, Pastors.... the time to be disconnected is not now, we live in a time where we need to be more connected than ever before to protect our children, teens, and flock!
If you would like more information on this issue and others like it, please email Jessica for materials and resources to help you as a parent or minister be better equipped for the issues teens and young people face in today's culture.