I just posted my first Instagram photo.
At least, I think I “posted” it. I’m not entirely certain what it’s called when you upload a picture on Instagram because I’m a Facebook kind of a girl—more words and less pictures for me.
But my teenagers aren’t on Facebook, and if you have teenagers, I suspect they aren’t on it much either. They’re probably on Instagram or Snapchat or whatever platform is the best, in this moment, for them to spill their pots of teenage tea.
We parents talk a lot about social media. We have to. While it can be a tremendous asset for communication, it can also be terrifying. A counselor told me recently that she is treating more and more girls for social media addiction. Sometimes she has to send them off to detox in order to balance their brain chemistry again.
Brains are changing with social media and lives are truly at stake. I get it. My family was almost destroyed by the evil lurking there.
Thank God, my family is in the midst of overcoming this evil, but many others are still caught in its grip. Social media has amplified normal teenage emotions and stirred up a storm of insecurity and angst. And our generation is still figuring out how to tame this monster that has stomped all over our homes and the hearts of our children. A monster that I have no idea how to control.
A monster that I can’t control.
Of course, we take away phones when necessary, but social media access is everywhere. At youth group. In school. At the library. Simply borrow a phone or computer and the monster is released once again.
Truth is, I have a deep-seated hatred for Instagram because of the monster it unleashed on those I love. So why am I posting now?
A dear friend and fellow mom recently opened my eyes. Tosha Williams is the founder of a ministry called Family Disciple Me, and while she’s keenly aware of the threats from social media, she also encouraged me to embrace Instagram as a mission field and own it. Teenagers are there already, she said, many of them searching for hope. For truth. Let’s give them a taste of Jesus in our posts. Instead of being swept away, let’s take social media by storm.
So I’ve decided to storm. Or post. Or whatever it takes to be on Instagram, in particular, because my kids are there.
I’ve decided to stand on this precipice and offer hope, healing, to teens who are searching. I will be present, to the best of my ability, in this place where teens often turn.
Screens are here to stay. So is social media. Now how can we as parents, as followers of Christ, use it for good? I certainly don’t have all the answers—and I’m tech illiterate compared to my girls—but I want to be present online.
Lord, please use me in my ineptness to share your love through social media. Please send parents out today to spill Jesus across the screens of teenagers around the world.
Writing fiction is Melanie Dobson’s excuse to explore abandoned houses, travel to unique places, and spend hours reading old books and journals. The award-winning author of twenty books, Melanie enjoys stitching together both time-slip and historical fiction including Catching the Wind, Hidden Among the Stars, and her latest novel, Memories of Glass. Melanie’s historical novels have won four Carol Awards, the 2018 Audie Award, and the ForeWord Book of the Year. More information about her and her family’s journey is available at melaniedobson.com.