Here at Mt. Gilead we have a rule that lots of parents love, but most campers don’t understand: no one is allowed to be on their phone. Now, counselors have them on their person in case of an emergency, but campers are not allowed to bring them to camp. We have lots of reasons for this, but the main one is that we want you to have a distraction-free week where you can focus on growing closer to God.
We all know how hard it can be to put our phones down and live in the moment, but we don’t always think about the addictions that we develop to our cellular devices (especially to social media) or the effect those addictions have on your way of thinking.
As I was researching statistics on the degree to which teens are addicted to their phones and also why social media is so enticing to teenagers (and the rest of us too), I found some interesting things.
One study found that 72% of teens feel they need to respond immediately to notifications and 45% of teens say they use the internet “almost constantly”. With this statistic, It’s no surprise that teens are known as cultural consumers.
You are called cultural consumers by a company named “Hello Social” which helps international businesses use social media to get into their market. Their clients include Amazon Prime Video, Microsoft, Paramount Pictures, and Babbel. In one of their articles entitled “Social Media Advertising for Teens (Ages 13-18)”, they advise businesses to advertise specifically to teens because of how aware of social trends they are.
Here are two of the tips they gave:
“Whether it’s your brand or influencer accounts, time-sensitive Snapchat posts and Instagram Stories are must-see content for young audiences… Tapping into your younger audience’s FOMO (fear of missing out), experimenting with Stories and Stories-based ads is a smart move.”
“ Prioritize influencers over traditional ads… It’s no secret that younger consumers trust influencers of all shapes and sizes, which is exactly why so many teenage influencers dominate YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat alike.”
I found a couple of things interesting about these tips. 1, businesses recognize that teens are addicted to social media because they don’t want to feel like they are missing out, and are actively tapping into that fact. 2, there’s a likelihood that you trust influencers on social media (even though you probably have no idea who they actually are).
Think for a second about how those two pieces of advice from “Hello Social” play out in your own life. Are you afraid of missing out on what you’re posting or that people will forget about you if you don’t post? Do you believe what influencers on social media are saying to you more than you believe what God’s word and godly people in your life are saying to you?
Did you know that it’s the voices you choose to listen to most often that you will believe most readily?
What are you really missing out on if you’re not consistently checking your Instagram, Snapchat, and Tik Tok? The problem with social media is that most people only post the best parts of themselves. You see the fun times without seeing the stress or consequences of poor decisions. You see smiling faces without seeing the tears of the girl who believes she’s not good enough.
Seeing only the best parts of others’ lives dressed up and with a filter on it tends to make us question our own value. We wonder what’s wrong with us that we can’t be as happy or as put-together as our friends on social media, so we post a picture of ourselves to make it seem like our lives are just as great as everyone else in the hopes that it will give us a feeling of validation.
If you don’t believe that people put the best pieces of themselves on social media, here’s a picture of Kylie Jenner (an influencer) from her social media and another picture that was taken of her without makeup. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time telling that it’s the same person.
Here’s the point of all this: I am not saying that it is wrong to be on social media or post nice pictures of yourself wearing makeup. I am saying that it’s important to realize that social media is usually not a good depiction of real life, which means it is not a good source of truth. When you realize this, there is a maturity that comes.
It’s what we spend our time thinking about that directly affects the way we act and the things we desire. If you are choosing to spend your time filling your head with posts on social media that give you a false perception of what a perfect, happy life should be about, I would not be surprised to find out that you’re unsatisfied with different aspects of your own life. This is because you have built your worldview (The lens through which you interpret the world) off fake perceptions.
Is social media evil? Absolutely not. It’s a great tool to keep up with friends, create fun memories, and form deeper relationships if used in the right way. I can think of many hilarious moments that were captured on film and live on in infamy on Instagram or my Snapchat memories. However, it is important to be aware of what we are spending our time dwelling on.
Check yourself. Has social media become something that you can’t go through the day without spending hours on or thinking about? Are you believing lies that tell you if you could only be as pretty as that one girl or go to Florida as often as that other girl, that you would be happier?
You see, lies can only be combated with truth, and the ultimate source of truth is found only in God’s word. When we surveyed our campers, over half of you said that you read the Bible less than once a week. Think about how much time you spend with God vs. how much time you spend on social media. Have you ever gone more than a week without checking your social media accounts? In order to be successful in combating the lies (wherever they are coming from), you need to be listening to the truth more often than the lies. It’s the voices you choose to listen to most often that you will believe most readily.
Do you want to hear the good news? Changing attitudes of the heart and mind is something that God excels in. He is always molding us to become more like his son in the ways we live and the things we desire. It is possible to break the chains of whatever is holding you captive and break free from whatever lies you are believing. He gives us the power of the Holy Spirit to help us in our weaknesses.
We’ll talk more about this in part 2, so stay tuned!