Raising Godly Girls: Why Social Media Is Not The Real Problem
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It’s was nearly 11:30 pm. I’m normally asleep by then, but as I waited for the reassuring beep of the back door to alert me that my daughter was home safe I laid in bed scrolling through Instagram. She had been with twenty girls at a party so I knew there would be photos (Did the night even happen if there aren’t?).
Sure enough, just as the backdoor beeped, the pictures started streaming in. Beautiful girls perfectly posed all having fun. At least that’s what the pictures begged me to think.
Whether the night was as fabulous as it appeared, the world would never know. But I couldn’t help thinking that behind these red-lipped smiles there were hurting girls, lonely girls, insecure girls, trying to fit in girls, afraid to be less than perfect girls: girls who needed a true friend and felt lost even in this group of #besties.
Sure enough, over coffee the next morning my daughter told me the real story of the night. One that was nothing like what the pictures would have you believe.
But even if our girls know social media pictures are edited to perfection and serve only as a highlight reel of someone’s life, comparison still creeps in. Research shows much of the stress and pressures our tween and teen girls feel directly connects to social media. The effects of this pressure, ranging from (but not limited to) depression, eating disorders, cutting, promiscuity and substance abuse, go far deeper than most realize. And “good,” church-going girls are not exempt from these struggles.
Even still, social media is not the real problem!
Mark 7:15 reads, “Nothing outside a person can defile them…Rather it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”
In other words, sin comes from inside us. So we can point our fingers at social media, but the heart of the problem is not social media. The problematic behaviors associated with social media are the by-product of what’s going on in our girls’ sinful, idolatrous hearts. Therefore, it is the idolatry we need to address.
Anything we desire more than God leads us to exchange the truth of God for a lie. It’s the same lie humanity has bought into ever since Satan convinced Adam and Eve that God was withholding good by not allowing them to eat from the tree in the middle of the garden. A lie that convinces us that God is not enough and true life is found somewhere other than him.
For our girls, all it takes is one quick scroll through Instagram to leave them vulnerable to Satan’s whispering lies…
“You’re not good enough.”
“You’re not popular enough”
“You need to be skinnier.”
“You’re not like them.”
“Your life is boring.”
The longer they look, scroll, and compare, the more these lies become “truth” and what God says is true is forgotten.
So how do we reorient our girls back to the truth that social media distorts?
1) Uncover the lies by exposing the heart
This can be done through probing questions. Identifying the false gods in which they seek to find their satisfaction and identity.
By identity, I mean worth – what or where they seek to find their value. It could be based on how many “likes” they get, how many followers they have, or what kind of comments they receive. But, it’s not limited to social of course. Their appearance, acceptance, performance, popularity, recognition and more can be false sources of identity.
You likely have an idea of what her tendencies are, but if not, a great place to start is paying attention to her posts and what she talks often about. But we should also be evaluating our own hearts. Seeing how we do the same thing – where we find our worth and identity – is an important factor in our ability to show compassion and help our girls deal honestly with their sin.
2) Help our girls, in their sin, be anchored in Christ
To help our girls get their story straight, justification is the most important truth we can speak into them. It is the basis of their secure identity, and the anchoring truth that holds against the lies social media and everything else in this world distorts.
Therefore, regular conversations should take place about what it means practically to have been declared right at the time of salvation. Remind them that everything good about Jesus is now good about them, that God views them as perfect because Jesus was perfect. That they stand not only without accusation or condemnation but as righteous. If our girls know this, then when they inevitably feel insecure, less than compared to their friends, or have fallen into sin, we give them Christ to fix their eyes on, to see again how He was everything for them.
When our girls look at social media and think God isn’t enough – or God isn’t good – or God has forgotten them or doesn’t love them because He isn’t blessing them the way they want – or because things are hard – what they need is to be anchored to the truths of Gods word: who He is and who they are in Him. It is here they find their secure, unchanging identity. The fruit they bear (good or bad) will be dependent on this as their foundational root!
∞ ABOUT THE AUTHOR ∞
Kristen Hatton is the author of Face Time: Your Identity in a Selfie World for teen girls and the teen devotional Get Your Story Straight. In addition to her own blog, she is a frequent contributor to The Rooted Ministry blog and enCourage women’s blog. Kristen lives in Oklahoma with her pastor husband and their three teenagers. Learn more by visiting her website at www.kristenhatton.com.