If you’re a parent and you’re not concerned about powerful, pervasive, attractive and seductive media in the lives of your children, you’re just not paying attention. We live with more dominant and intrusive media than ever before. Teenagers have cellphones and when they have cellphones, the world is attractive and available to them with Instagram and Snapchat and all those things that are so compelling.
Now, I think it’s important to do a couple [of] things. First of all, don’t ask the law to do what only grace can accomplish in the hearts of your children. I really do think that there are very, very significant heart issues that are exposed in this struggle with social media. Now, it’s right to warn your children of the dangers that are out there and that role of parents to hold good, godly, practical, functional warnings in front of heir children is really very, very important and to prepare your children for the temptations that are available to them because they keep hearing this powerful media with them.
But I think there’s some heart issues that you need to talk with your children about and one of the dominant issues is the issue of identity, where “I attach my worth, my identity, my sense of self to how many clicks I get, how many likes I get, how popular I am in social media.” And that is a very, very significant identity seduction to young people in this generation.
Another is the issue of love of neighbor. I was in Starbucks recently. There were five or six young people together. They all sat next to one another, no conversation going on between them whatsoever, all on their phones. At some point, somebody announced they’re leaving, they all got up and left. They probably thought they were spending time with one another. They had no time with one another.
And so, the fact that I was created for relationship with God and relationship with others, and the temptation to replace that with auto-entertainment, this utterly self-centered world where I can descend into this world that pleases me, not caring who’s next to me, and I can stay in that world literally for hours, it has doorway after doorway after doorway after doorway.
Now, what I want to do, as I want to talk about the deeper heart issues with my children, hoping that in every conversation, I give the Spirit of God a chance to work in the heart of that child, so that growingly, they begin to want what God wants. Listen. Teenagers [who] are doing well are not doing well just because they’ve had the right set of rules around them, but because God’s got a hold of their hearts and God’s given them a desire for something deeper than human affirmation and a self-centered way of working through the world.
Embed social media in the comforts and the warnings of the gospel with your children and have those conversations over and over and over again.