Dangers of Social Media

For most of us, using media is a regular part of our daily routine. We check our email when we wake up, scroll through Facebook to see if there’s anything new, and download our favorite podcast for our ride to work or school. We text our friends and family throughout the day, and it’s rare for us to be unreachable by phone. In fact, when we don’t receive an immediate response from the person we are contacting, we are surprised and wonder what is taking so long. While media, and social media in particular, provide many benefits to our lives, we also recognize that there are dangers associated with using them. 

1. One of the biggest challenges in managing our media usage is limiting the time we spend on screens. It’s easy to take a free moment to check our social media, and we tell ourselves we will just quickly scroll through, and the quick scroll turns into half an hour or more. It’s important for us to monitor the amount of time we spend (and dare I say, waste) on screens and set boundaries for ourselves. Paul warns us to be “wise, redeeming the time” because time is such a limited commodity (Ephesians 5:15-16). How can we be wise with our time on social media? There are apps available that can track your screentime and can even turn off your phone when you’ve reached your self-imposed boundary. Getting an accountability partner, like a friend or parent, who you can report to is another helpful idea to help manage the time we spend on our media devices.

2. Another challenge with social media can be the apps themselves. Certain apps, like Facebook, can be used for good if we fill our feed with Bible verses and appropriate photos and we use them to stay in touch with loved ones. Other apps, like Snapchat and TikTok, are full of dangers at every turn. Pornographic images and videos are available at the swipe of your finger, even if you don’t purposely seek them out. On TikTok, videos encouraging young people to attempt dangerous, even life-threatening challenges, abound. It’s also important to mention that every photo, video, and comment posted online is there forever. Future employers and others can look up our posts and see everything we’ve ever said and done online. We need great discernment in what we share with the world, and we need to remember that as Christians, we are commanded to “abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22).

3. Internet search engines like Google can be amazing tools to find answers to any question we might have. Or, if we need to repair something, there’s probably a YouTube video showing us how. While these opportunities for accessing information are beneficial to us, they also require us to sift through a lot of lies to find the truth. Every kind of ideology, philosophy, and lifestyle can be found online. These ideas are proclaimed, recommended, and defended. Logic tells us they cannot all be good, and they cannot all be true. We need to be grounded in God’s Word so that we can discern between good and evil and then “abhor what is evil” while we “cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9).

4. Finally, social media and being “plugged in” can rob us of our quiet time. How often do we see someone walking on the street or riding the bus without ear pods? Seldom! We ourselves might spend several hours a day listening to something: music, a podcast, a video, or the news. Have we ever considered that we might be doing ourselves a great disservice by drowning out our daily quiet time with noise? Our quiet time allows our minds to rest and our thoughts to develop. Our quiet time is also useful to God; God often chooses to speak to His children during quiet times of reflection. For example, we know from the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19 that God did not speak to him in the earthquake, or fire, or mighty wind, but instead in a still, small voice (vv. 11-12). Rather ironically, there is a new trend on TikTok called “quiet walking.” Its advocates proclaim the benefits of walking in silence, unattached to any form of media. In this instance, they have a point! Walking in silence, driving without any music, waiting at the bus stop quietly—these are all great opportunities to be silent and let our thoughts reflect on God, on the Bible text we may have read that day, or to pray and allow God to speak to us.

Social media is an important tool in our world today and can benefit us in many ways. However, as with many other things in life, it’s a tool that can be used for good or evil. Let us make every effort to be watchful of the time we spend on media, the content of the apps and websites we use, the information we consume, and the amount of quiet time we allot ourselves. May God help us to use this tool for good!

 Karina Knelsen 

Hamilton, Ontario

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