Gen Z and Alpha are growing up in a world where they only ever knew a world with social media. They are the first generations to do so. And while research is still developing, it is no secret, the stats show that social media can have a harmful impact on their lives (source). Despite this, stats also show that 54% of them say it would be really hard to give up social media (source).
The Church's mission is to love, serve and share the love of Jesus with their community. With social media being such a huge part of our daily lives, it presents a great opportunity for the Church and youth ministries to minister and serve the community. After all, as great as it is for teenagers to connect with others and build friendships online, there is also cautions that they need to be aware of. There are dangers that teens, tweens and families need to know about and navigate through.
Ways to Help
So, how can youth ministers help teenagers with social media? Here are a few things you can do:
- Have Open Discussions and Dialogue about Social media. Share the pros, cons, and how to avoid pitfalls of social media. Talk about dealign with comparison, oversharing, and addiction. You can do these with teenagers in a group setting or as individuals. You can also invite parents to these meet ups so that they can be aware of the pros and cons of social media with teens.
- Encourage Boundary Setting. Youth leaders can advise setting boundaries and limits for usage with teens by encouraging no phones during youth group. Youth leaders can model healthy outside of youth group meetings when they are hanging out with teenagers..They can also encourage teens outside of youth group time by working with parents to help them set boundaries at home during bedtimes and conversation time with family and friends.
- Help Teens use Social Media for Good. Social media is meant to connect but it can be used for so much more. It can be used for ministry opportunities. Help them see themselves as digital missionaries who can share about Jesus and encourage others.
- Unplug. Stats show that social media can be addicting and can negatively affect our mental health. Advise and help teens to take breaks, when needed, and unplug to refresh. One idea is to show the documentary "The Social Dilemma" together on family movie night. That can help families understand the importance of unplugging together.
- Share Digital Safety Tips. There are plenty of bad people out there on social media. They are looking to manipulate and trick people. Unfortunately, teens can be too trusting and can give away sensitive information. Help teens develop world. strong passwords, privacy settings, avoiding oversharing with strangers.
Today's teens and tweens have only ever known a life with social media. It is a very important part of their life, as they use it as a way to connect with others. However, it is not the only way they can connect with others. As a youth ministry leader, help them and their families navigate how they can use social media appropriately. The more you can partner with families, the more helpful you will be to the long term health and mental development of teens.
What do you think? What are some other ways youth ministers and ministries can help teenagers with social media? Share your ideas below or on social media.
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