Social Media Hurts

Cyber bullying. Decreased sleep. Decreased exercise. Anxiety. Depression. Extreme self-consciousness. Obsession with the number of likes and comments. Low self-esteem.

These are some of the effects of social media use. According to a recent study, social media is hurting our young people, especially girls. A recent study in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health Journal involved interviews with almost 10,000 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 16. The researchers found that social media may harm girls’ mental health by increasing their exposure to bullying, and reducing their sleep and exercise. For boys, the impact on mental health seems to be due to other reasons, so further research is needed, the authors said. Scrolling through social media apps at bedtime was highlighted as particularly harmful to both genders.

This is very scary. If you have a teenager in your life, I bet you have seen this firsthand.

Thousands and thousands of years ago, “social media” came in different forms. Words have been destructive since the beginning of time, whether they come from a verbal exchange, a written source, or through the internet. People much wiser than I have cautioned about the hurtfulness of words, and have encouraged us to “guard our hearts” against such damage:

Proverbs 4 (The Message)

Learn It by Heart

20-22  Dear friend, listen well to my words;

    tune your ears to my voice.

Keep my message in plain view at all times.

    Concentrate! Learn it by heart!

Those who discover these words live, really live;

    body and soul, they’re bursting with health.

23-27 Keep vigilant watch over your heart;

    that’s where life starts.

Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth;

    avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip.

Keep your eyes straight ahead;

    ignore all sideshow distractions.

Watch your step,

    and the road will stretch out smooth before you.

Look neither right nor left;

    leave evil in the dust.

Keep vigilant watch over your heart. Avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. If that doesn’t sound like WhatsApp, Instagram, FaceBook, Twitter, and the rest, I don’t know what does.

I think social media hurts ALL of us. I say that with the full realization that I can only access you all through social media. Like everything else on this earth, social media can be used for good or for evil. For example, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised for hurricane relief in less than 48 hours through social media. It is a viable and extremely effective way for GOOD words to be shared among God’s people.

But the temptation to compare our lives with the polished and photoshopped happy-family portrayals we are exposed to is not a good thing at any age. And anything that takes our eyes off of God for prolonged periods of each day cannot be spiritually healthy.

God invites us to keep our eyes on HIS message. Those who discover God’s words LIVE, “and really live; body and soul, they’re bursting with health.”

Where will you spend time today? Will you turn to the ancient scrolls of God’s word and bury your heart there, or will you continue to bury your head and keep scrolling through junk?

The choice is yours every day. Choose well.

Photo by Michelle Robertson.

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