We live in the most social world that we have ever lived in. When I was growing up, it was beginning to take shape. I remember when I was in high school, cell phones were just becoming big for students to carry around. It was the day where you carried the huge Nokia phone, and whoever had the newest face plate for the phone or had the highest score on snake was the coolest! Instant Messenger and email were around, but never too big, but occasionally we used it. Nothing came close to communicating with our friends in person though. Today, things are drastically different, and that was only 10 years ago. In the past 10 years, social networking has become one of the largest businesses in the world. It is the best way to market your product, blog, thoughts, or simply to connect with others.
I wonder how many of you have had an instance in your student ministry where a student communicated or lashed out on their social site, but would not have done it in person. This happens in students and parents, because we have lost sight of consistency with our communication. If we are not careful, we will allow our students to communicate one way on their social network, and another in person. Here are a few of the top social sites used by students today: Facebook, twitter, myspace, bebo, and google+.
Students communicate in totally different ways now, but that does not change the Biblical principles of communication!
Ephesians 4:”Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers.”
God holds parents accountable while they are in your care. He loans them to you and expects for you to teach them the principles found in Scripture about communication. Student Pastors are here to back up and to reinforce what is going on at the home. You are the parent and it is the responsibility of a parent to teach/train/discipline, and the student pastor to reinforce that teaching!
Personal: I see pictures that are questionable, I see disrespectful and demeaning of authority, profanity, bullying, and negativity on social media. How can we use social media more effectively, and how can we teach students to use it the right way? Here are some principles (not absolutes) for student pastors and parents to teach their students on using social media:
- If you do not want your authority (Parents, Leaders, teachers, pastor) to see it, do not post or tweet it!
- Teach them the importance of using consistency in their communication. If they would not say it, do not post it! Never lash out or complain about something in church or school on social media. These things need to be handled in person like the Bible teaches.
- Teach them to think before they tweet! This would eliminate so many problems. Just think about what they are about to tweet or post before they go through with it. This is the goal. You should have a goal to teach students so that eventually they can make good decisions using social media on their own.
- Teach them that their social media page is an extension of who they are. You can tell who a person is normally by looking at their facebook page. It does not take much. You can see what they are interested in, if they are dating, what movies they enjoy, music preferences, and much more. Students need to be taught that their facebook page is an extension of who they are.
- Monitor your student’s social sites! This is not popular especially for the students, but I feel that this is the responsibility of the parents. This could eliminate so many problems for our students if they had the parents checking up on how they are using their social sites.
- Teach them that social media is an excellent way to share their faith– They can be a great example of Jesus on their site, and point people toward Him if they use it the right way. They need to be reminded of this fact all of the time.