If used in the right way, social media can help us understand more about Christianity as well as spread the good news so others can hear about our Saviour. However, social media can also be a dangerous place. It can lead to depression and serious body image related problems. We, as Christians, have to be very careful how we use social media, and always fact-check the things we see and read on it.
Studies have shown that social media has resulted in depression becoming a worse problem among teens . Between the Instagram ‘explore page’ and the Snapchat ‘discover page’, we can so easily fall into the trap of comparing our lives to the lives of those we see on these pages. It is common for young people to fall into the toxic habit of putting themselves down because they don’t look like the model on their phone or they don’t have as much fun as the group of friends who seem to go partying every night. Studies have also shown that over half of all female and over one third of all male social media users compare themselves unfavourably to others . This is known as ‘comparison culture’ and it is taking its toll on our self-esteem. However, as Christians, we have something that others don’t. We have the knowledge that we are made in the image of God. In Genesis 1, we read that God “created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them” . In Psalm 139 we read that God “knitted me together in my mother’s womb” and we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” . So, the next time you are scrolling through social media and find that you are putting yourself down because you don’t look ‘pretty enough’, remember who you are and how you were created. God made us all different and we should take pride in our differences, instead of striving to be like others.
God made us all different and we should take pride in our differences, instead of striving to be like others.
Social media also has the power to distract us from the important things in life. It can distract us from our family, from the beauty of the world around us, but most importantly, from spending time with the Lord. More than a third of teenagers spend at least three hours a day on social media . This time can take away from the time we spend with God, whether that would be reading the Bible, going to youth group, or praying to Him. Growing in our Christian faith is an important thing and social media has the power to hinder that growth, if it takes our focus away from God and puts it on worldly matters instead.
If you are one of those people who find themselves saying ‘just one more video’ or ‘just five more minutes’, can I encourage you today to put your phone down or set limits on how much social media you can use each day? Spending time on social media is not a bad thing, but spending too much time can do more harm than good. Some devices will let you limit the time you spend online or on certain types of app by changing your settings. You could consider installing a productivity app such as Flipd to restrict your access. Setting reminders or timers can also help you think about how long you’ve spent scrolling through social media – it’s often surprising to find how much time has slipped by! And make sure you find something positive as an alternative: instead of picking up your phone first thing in the morning, reach for your Bible or talk to God. When you go to bed, read a devotional instead of scrolling through Instagram. Introducing these good habits in your life will strengthen your relationship with God. Remember, social media will not be here forever; it will pass away like the rest of the world, but God never changes and spending more time with Him is always beneficial.
There is no doubt that social media can be a negative thing; however, if used correctly, it can have a positive impact on your life and the lives of others. It’s a great way to keep in touch with family and friends, especially those who don’t live nearby, and to stay up-to-date with what’s happening in their lives. Also, because many teenagers spend a lot of time on it, social media can be a useful way to spread the Gospel and strike up conversations with your non-Christian friends. For example, at Easter and Christmas, I usually share a Bible verse on my Instagram ‘story’ and this can lead to people messaging me about it. This is a great way to start Christ-centred conversations with others and to plant a seed in their hearts which God will help to grow. As well as this, there is a Christian community on social media. Following Christian accounts can help to filter your social media pages to show you helpful and Biblically-sound posts so that you don’t get distracted by worldly information or persuaded by sinful lifestyles. For example, the Christian Institute has an Instagram page, on which they post their weekly updates and encouraging Bible verses. There are also Christian teenagers who post Biblical messages and who can be a real help to your walk with Christ. Of course, just like everywhere else in life, you have to watch out for false teachers who could be teaching you inaccurate things. However, following the right people on social media can be a huge benefit to your faith, as long as you remember that social media cannot become a replacement for reading the Bible or praying; it is simply an additional tool to help you.
… following the right people on social media can be a huge benefit to your faith
I would encourage you today to think about how you use social media and reflect upon whether it is leading you away from Christ or drawing you closer to Him. If, upon reflection, you realise you need to make some changes, don’t worry! It may take some hard work, but with the Lord’s help and through adopting some of the habits mentioned in this article, you will be able to use social media in a more positive way.
- Cristina Criddle, Social media damages teenagers’ mental health, report says, BBC News, 27th January 2021
- Rheana Murray, Social media is affecting the way we view our bodies — and it’s not good, Today, 8th May 2018
- Genesis 1:27
- Psalm 139:13-14
- Ian Sample, Bedtime social media use may be harming UK teenagers, study says, The Guardian, 22nd February 2019