Giving Facebook to God: Teens Can Strive for Action in Social Media Use

Giving Facebook to God: Teens Can Strive for Action in Social Media Use

Dec 21, 2017

By Katie Brown

“Garbage In, Garbage Out.” It’s a phrase that was thrown around a lot by youth pastors and camp counselors when I was a teenager. Even now, the saying reminds me of campfire smoke, burnt marshmallows, early morning Bible studies, and fellow teenagers rolling their eyes. At the time, the lessons were on secular messages in popular movies, television shows, and video games. Of course we understood that ungodly influences were not the best choice for our spiritual walk, but the pressures of participating in popular entertainment were difficult to just walk away from. Besides, we had the ability to filter out the harmful messages by our own Godly world views, right?

God’s Word and scientific research says we were wrong. In Galatians chapter 5, Paul instructs the Church to “walk by the Spirit” and to not “gratify the desires of the flesh” (verse 16 ESV). The rest of the chapter outlines the “works of the flesh” as unpleasant characteristics such as idolatry, jealousy, fits of anger, and envy. The Bible outlines over and over again what we focus on is what determines our attitudes. This is why we are told in Philippians 4:8 to think about things which are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise.

Easier said than done! But our daily habits and what we allow to influence us can impact change in our lives.

Like I hinted earlier, modern research is catching up to Biblical wisdom. Studies in the 1990s showed links between watching hours of television daily with increased depression and low self-esteem. Over the past five years research continues to show hours of daily Facebook use can cause higher rates of envy in relationships and is linked to a higher likelihood of depression in certain populations, including young women with past issues with mood disorders.


Is it surprising that our new form of “media” is becoming so harmful for teens and young adults? In studying social media, researchers found that people tend to share their best selves on their social media accounts, which showcases a life with few problems or worries. This means most of our friends post edited photos and status updates about their “picture-perfect” lives which leaves out the everyday struggles that come with living in a world of sin. It can cause a person to wonder, “Am I the only one with problems?” The temptation to compare is also difficult to resist on social media: measuring number of friends, “likes,” and comments. It’s easy for teens and even adults to get caught up in the online popularity contest.

So how can teens use this highly influential tool for God’s kingdom? Colossians 3:12-17 gives a great example of how we as Christians are to treat each other. God wants us to lift each other up, encourage others in the church, and to “do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

We are to be a light in the world of darkness. In social media this translates as being positive and godly in what we share, to point to God and His salvation through our actions, and NOT to participate in harmful trends or cyber bullying.

It is wise to remember that entertainment like movies and social media should be considered “dessert” not a “main meal” of our time spent during the day. Next time you are tempted to “waste time” on social media, consider other activities you could enjoy instead such as: time in prayer and reading scripture, fellowship with family and friends, a walk outside or a hike in nature, exercise through sport, writing an encouraging note to someone in need, or playing with a younger sibling or family pet.

If we dedicate ALL of our time to God, He will lead us on a godly path and bless our efforts.

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