Social Media

Social Media http://www.flickr.com/photos/birgerking/4731898939/sizes/n/

It seems that we cannot get through a whole day at the moment without hearing in the media about the dangers of social media. But is it really all that bad? What should I do with my kids? Should I let them join facebook? The questions are nearly endless.

This page is designed to give you a framework in which to answer those questions, along with some resources you might find useful as you navigate this minefield with your children. You’ll also find a number of blog posts in the ‘Social Media’ category of this site to help you.

A Starting Point

It is important to note that there is nothing inherently evil about social media. It has been created by creative humans who, have been made in the image of a creative God. (Genesis 1:27) BUT, as a result of the fall, social media is often used for destructive and evil purposes. Our role as parents is to help our children navigate clearly and safely through this minefield, teaching them how these technologies can be engaged with for redemptive purposes.

 What is Social Media?

The nature of the internet has changed. No longer is it a one way medium, where ‘experts’ are able to use their skills to create a web page, and then share that web page with ‘consumers’. Now the ‘media’ is created by everyone and anyone. Everyone can have their say on anything, share their thoughts, ideas, and indeed whole lives, online – thanks to the advent of social media.

Blogs, wikis, facebook, podcasts, social bookmarking, youtube, online gaming… the list is seemingly endless. These are all forms of social media – where the control of the media itself is in the hands of the people.

Twitter – a micro blogging service, is now one of the worlds most popular search engines. People share what is happening to them right now, with the world. This ‘news’ often travels far faster than the mainstream media – particularly in times of natural disaster like Tropical Cyclone Yasi.

Here’s an interesting insight into the power of social media today:

What are the Problems?

There are a number of problems, or dangers of social media. Indeed, there are far too many to even attempt to list them here. But to look a little into the problem, we should first look at the definition of ‘media’.

Media is the plural form of medium, which is taken from the Latin word medius – meaning centre or middle. So essentially the idea of social media, is something that joins one to another. It is in the middle. When two people connect with each other via social media, the connection is not a direct one, it is mediated.

Face to face, unmediated communication

This contrasts then with the Biblical model of communication. The model given by God shows us that unmediated communication is best. God himself shows this through the way he sent Jesus, his own flesh, to live among us: 1 John 1

Paul also talks about his longing to see the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 2: 17. He doesn’t long to write them another letter (or to post about them on facebook!), but to actually see them. He longs to see them and indeed made “every effort” to see them. Paul wanted that unmediated contact with the Thessalonians. He knew that this was the best and most effective form of communication with them.

So too, then, should we be making every effort to have that unmediated contact with our friends and family to build relationship and community. We have been created as relational beings to have that intimate relational contact with each other.

How do I find the Answers?

This isn’t to say then that we should throw away all of the good things about social media. Applications such as Skype, Google talk and (of course) Facebook can keep us in touch with loved ones when they are far away or when circumstances prevent direct face to face communication. Social media can help and aid our communications in many many ways. BUT… (and here’s the rub) – it should always be seen as an aid to communication, and not the means to communication.

If the majority of our communication is taking place with others via this mediated form, then we need to ask whether we’re following the model that Christ set for living in community with each other.

Image used with permission – HeadHeartHand Media

How do I teach this to my kids?

The best resource that we have found focused on helping parents to navigate this minefield is the ‘God’s Technology’ video available from HeadHeartHand Media. They have developed this resource with a 7 step plan to help parents give their children the skills and discernment to engage wisely with social media. The video is available for download from their website for a very reasonable $5, or you can also purchase a DVD.

This Digital Discipleship website will also have ongoing blog posts that will help you. You can choose the ‘Social Media’ category on the right hand side of the page to find the archive of all social media articles. You can also search any articles via the tag cloud, also on the right hand side of the main page.

 

 Links and Bible references

>> (Genesis 1:27)

>> 1 John 1

>>  1 Thessalonians 2: 17

>> Twitter – a micro blogging service

>> HeadHeartHand Media

>>  ‘God’s Technology’

 

About the Author

Dave is passionate about the use of technology in education, and helping students to develop a biblical understanding of digital technology. Dave is currently teaching at Covenant Christian School.