Much can be said about the way social media is used by young people today—and it’s not always favorable. From cyber bullying to catfishing, there is a lot to be wary of, for sure. But it’s not all bad! Especially when it’s used appropriately. So where does the church exist in all of this? How can we come alongside families to help teach teens about healthy social media usage?
Offer a social media class.
Pull together some resources and some experts in this field from those within your circles and hold a class on social media usage. Keep it light and fun. Young people need to know some of what could go wrong with social media abuse, but they also don’t need more ideas for that. Consider holding it on an evening, and maybe even offering it quarterly, so more people can experience the information as students age up. It would also be beneficial to break up students and parents at a certain point in the class, so you can speak more freely to both groups separately from one another. Make sure you are tailoring this content to your age groups and trying to focus on the positive, rather than weigh them down with the many potential negatives.
Integrate social media in experiences.
Whether it’s a weekly worship experience or a summer camp trip, utilizing social media in your youth experiences is a great way to encourage and teach smart usage. You can do a lot of interactive things using Twitter polls in a sermon, or you could create a trip hashtag to curate Instagram photos of everything that’s happening while you’re gone. There are many ways to incorporate social media into the everyday culture of your student ministry, and the more you do this, the more normalized and safe it becomes. Just make sure you are monitoring the hashtags and comments closely!
Model what you want to see.
While you cannot police what your student ministry volunteers do on their own social media accounts, you can consider asking them to sign a code of conduct so they know you want them to be mindful of their posting habits. It’s important for students to see authenticity from the leaders in their lives on social media, and the best way for them to get that is by showing them. (Which means if you or your leaders aren’t already on social media, it’s time to step up! You gotta go where they are.) This isn’t a perfect catch-all system. Sometimes kids will be oblivious to your example. But like with anything else, it has to start from the top and hopefully much of what they see modeled for them will trickle down.It's important for students to see authenticity from the leaders in their lives on social media, and the best way for them to get that is by showing them. Click To Tweet
One more thing: These ideas and these principles are universal. Churches, schools, and youth groups everywhere are trying to figure out how to navigate these waters. So, consider partnering together with other groups on these initiatives. There is power in numbers! If you can work together to create some sort of curriculum and promote it amongst multiple groups in your community, you are going to get more support and an even wider audience to spread a message of good, healthy social media usage.
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