Warning: there are some dark topics in this post such as bullying, stranger danger, sexual references.
Something I think about a lot - not surprising since social media is pretty much ingrained in most people's daily routines these days - is how Christians use and let their children use social media. Are some apps okay and others not? Or do you ban it completely in your household? Do you track your kids activity or put protective passwords on the internet?
I've thought about this a lot in the past, but thought I'd post about it now because at the moment, I'm sitting in my 13 year old sister's room while she's on her phone talking to a stranger over WhatsApp. The stranger is a teenager who is confused about their gender. They already had reassignment surgery and now a couple years later they want to change back, so my sis tells me. They're also a self harmer, which I have sympathy for, but I don't really want my sis exposed to any pictures or gory info about this person's experiences with self harm.
My sister is mature, but lacks common sense sometimes. The stranger has been harassing her for months, saying that she loves her and that she belongs to her. Even though my sis has made it perfectly clear they're not 'together' this person keeps insisting they are and she knows one of my sister's friends in person apparently. That's kinda creepy.
I only use FB and IG for business promotion now, but in the past I've had messages from strangers on IG which turned out to be naked pics or porn, and I'm a bit worried my sister has experienced this too. Of course I can't do anything about it since she's not my child. I've told her to block the person but she says she feels bad if she ignores them as they guilt trip her with sad stories about them. I've got all her passwords so I can monitor what she's doing online. I trust her, she's not an idiot, but I don't trust other people on the internet. (How ironic that I'm posting this on an online forum 😂)
She's sweet and innocent and smart, never had a boyfriend, whereas her real friends have had boyfriends and girlfriends and done things with them. She knows I don't think she's in the right circle, but she thinks she knows what she's doing. I can't blame her, I was the same at her age, however I always say I was born first so I could do all the stupid stuff so they wouldn't have to. I was hoping they'd learn from my mistakes lol.
Point is, the internet can be a dangerous place, especially for kids. For most people these days images of sex/violence, deadly internet pranks/trends and online bullying is normal and not something to be especially anxious about, but for Christians who actually practice what they preach and try their best to keep themselves and their families away from these things in real life, the internet and social media is something worth protecting ourselves and our children from.
So I want opinions from fellow Christians. Is it okay to let your kids/younger siblings on the internet unsupervised, or should we block some things? Or can some kids be trusted to obey their parents if they set some basic rules for using the internet? Should kids be banned from social media all together? By kids I mean people under 16. Other than staying in touch with friends, I don't see the point in people younger than 16 having social media. Sure sometimes their picture gets likes and it makes them feel good for a bit, but sometimes they don't get any likes or response on their posts at all and believe me, in a teen's mind the bad will always outweigh the good, whether they're Christian or not. It's like if a hundred people all gave you a compliment. You'd appreciate them, but if someone insulted you, you'd think more about the insult than the compliment.
I don't know, maybe I'm just one of those people who doesn't understand it despite my age. I grew up poor and while some of my friends had all the latest tech as soon as it hit the shops, I had to use a landline or my legs to stay in touch with people until I was fifteen, when I finally got my own laptop. I didn't have a decent mobile phone (that I didn't have to share with my 2 brothers) til I was seventeen and even then I never had credit, so I wasn't constantly available to everyone. I just find it weird that such young kids are so easily accessible to friends and strangers alike I guess 😕
What do you think and what are some good and bad experiences you or your children have had on the internet??
Part of the challenge in being a Pastor is loneliness. I am friends with many of the people in our church but there is and most likely always be some degree of separation between them and me. A recent survey found 78% of Pastors have no close friends.
What I am not sure of is how to find and make new friends.
I welcome any input.
Thanks very much
Shalom to all my Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
I have been ministering for 4 years online as well as in Federal Prisons along with a few churches between Canada and France.
I have been called to an online vocation to be accessible to all, worldwide.
While some curious struggling unbelievers may never find courage to enter a traditional church, strong believers at times also cannot attend for various reasons.
Using online platforms ,I make myself available to people whom fall in such category.
In essence, I am open minded and open my door for anyone in need whether its for one on one prayers, bible studies, Christian counselling, support, encouragement, fellowship or simply to have Christian oriented guidance, I am here on this forum to do my part in Jesus's Kingdom.
Looking forward to meeting you all.
My fellowship preference is for mutually comforting faith among those who have "a yearning to fellowship with those of like faith, in order to liberally share something given freely by the Holy Spirit to reinforce them."
(11) For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;
(12) That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
This preference for mutually comforting faith is both a deal maker and a deal breaker when it comes to my fellowshipping decisions. For something to be mutual there must be some reciprocity, or beneficial exchange between those concerned. If there is no comforting cooperation and participation from those I am assembling with for edification I soon part company with them, as Paul did with those who refuted his preaching in the synagogue at Corinth.
(4) And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.
(5) And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.
(6) And when they opposed him, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.
(7) And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man's house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue.
Rather than forsake assembling anywhere with anyone because of a Scripture-based fellowship preference mature Christians prayerfully seek out like-minded companions who encourage one another and form supportive relationships.
(23) Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
(24) And let us consider one another for the stirring up of love and of good works,
(25) not forsaking the assembling of ourselves, just as is the custom for some, but exhorting one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
I hope your fellowship preference is among those who share mutually comforting faith in Christ.
Act 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
Sometimes people ask "Where do you fellowship?" Also they ask "Who do you fellowship with?" But it would be a rare thing for someone to ask "What is your fellowship for?"
An unbeliever might ask "What do you do at your meetings?", not knowing how the term "fellowship" is applied among Christians.
I sometimes mention who I am in fellowship with and comment on what matters we discuss, and occasionally describe someone as being "out of fellowship", but still the question remains, "Ideally As Christians What Is Our Fellowship For?"