I love Twitter. In fact, if you don’t follow me on Twitter, stop reading right now and click here to do that! I didn’t take the time to see how long I’ve been using this service, but I would guess it’s been about 4 years.
Twitter is now over 6 years old, but in the past year it has really hit a momentum point as teenagers have come to use it en masse. As with any type of technology, this movement is neither good nor bad, it’s how it is used that makes all the difference.
Personally, I think one of the reasons we have seen this movement among teens to Twitter is that it is easily tied to text-messaging, which teens use on a regular basis.
Parents, if you are not following your kids on Twitter, though, you need to. I follow people of all ages and from all parts of the country, so this post is not just for parents of teens. However, I have seen more of the following problems with Twitter among teens. Here are some things parents need to watch for and educate their children about that could be tempting on Twitter.
1. Posting things that don’t jibe with Philippians 4:8. Paul wrote that Christians should meditate on things that are “true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise.” A lot of what is said on Twitter goes totally against that message. God is concerned about what we say…and post.
2. Following temptation. By that I mean that far too many Christian young people follow the tweets of friends, celebrities, and others whose message is completely anti-Christian (and some even retweet some of these anti-Christian messages!). While someone may be humorous or famous, that does not mean we need to be feeding our mind with his/her message constantly.
3. Never sleeping. I am amazed each morning when I wake up. Somewhere between 6:30 and 7:00, I nearly always check Twitter just to see what happened overnight. Each morning, there are tons of tweets by Christian teens that are “timestamped” as “3 hours ago” or “4 hours ago.” Really? Our kids are up at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning tweeting? Again, Twitter can be tied to texting, so they are receiving these messages all night and feel a “need” to respond immediately. I wonder how many of those same students then fall asleep in class or in worship, all in the name of Twitter.
4. Pride. Look, I love seeing how many Twitter followers I have, but I am not a big fan of calling them “followers.” That term does imply a certain level of pride. Far too many teens, though, are totally obsessed with seeing who has more followers than someone else. If that student is not careful, he/she will let pride take over just because of some silly number.
As I said at the beginning of this post, I love Twitter. Personally, I think it is one of the best communications tools to come along in a long time. In fact, I prefer it to Facebook now as a way to quickly keep up with people and gather information. But, as with anything else, there are temptations associated with this tool.
Parents, you are still in charge of your teens. You set the boundaries in their lives, including their usage of Twitter. If you don’t follow your kids on Twitter, you need to. If your son or daughter is doing things on Twitter that you do not approve of, you have the right to shut down his/her account, take his/her phone, or “suspend” him/her for some time. In fact, you must! Our young people need to learn how to be responsible Christians in all areas of life, including their online life.
QUESTIONS: What other temptations are present for teens on Twitter? What else can parents do to help their children with these temptations?
Photo credit: Andreas Eldh on creative commons