In the world of teens there are friends and there are online “friends.” Sometimes it’s difficult for a teen to break away from the social media friends, even for a short time. That’s not normal.
Friends through social media play an important role in the life of today’s youth. Social media affects their identities, their outlook on life and competes well for their attention. What used to be developed through community, faith and relationships is being replaced by access to technology. Teens are being exposed to subject matter which was once unheard of outside an XXX-rated movie, nasty personal attacks and bullying.
None of this has been good for today’s youth.
Darred Williams, Youth Ministry Pastor at Morningside Church in Port St. Lucie is a local expert on the problems associated with social media and youth.
Pastor Williams states, “Society teaches that ‘You have to have the iPhone. No one should be without one.’ It’s become an addiction.”
Second, he says, “There is an over access to social media that never shuts off. Students are inundated with information, most of it negative. The negative media is discouraging, and the student believes, ‘That’s how I am.’ Unwanted. Unloved. Suicidal. “
“Positive media that should be encouraging really isn’t. This leaves a student thinking, ‘I’ll never be that way.’ Glamorous. Beautiful. Wealthy. Important.”
“Both messages are negative.”
Pastor Williams continues, “One million shallow ‘friends’ doesn’t equate with one deep relationship. Relationship is important to youth. They desire it, chase after it, but it cannot be found with social media. It is found with their mother, their father, and God. Social media is just imitation.”
Pastor Williams has a few secrets about how to communicate effectively with teens. He regularly speaks on this topic in both public and private schools to both students and parents.
“Share your experience,” Williams advises. “Don’t keep what you went through and the mistakes you made a secret. Your teens will learn from you and avoid some of your mistakes.”
“Next, assist rather than direct. Ask your teen, ‘What can I do to help you?’ They do not like to be directed.”
“Third, be transparent. Teens feel that parents don’t understand them, though they do. They need to learn the values of sacrifice and empathy.”
“Last, it’s important to remember that everyone has something to offer a teen. What’s necessary is relationship.”
Pastor Darred Williams heads up “Underground Youth,” where he emphasizes raising teens to be prepared adults in their community. He holds a masters in Ministry Leadership from Southeastern University where he is currently working on a doctorate in Educational Leadership. He may be reached at Morningside Church 772.335.5166 or online at Darred.Williams@yahoo.com
© 2017 "Hometown Heroes" Kelly Jadon