A Note from Mary Margaret West: We’re all navigating phones and social media, and Abby shares some ideas today that are doable and helpful. Let’s make sure that we’re leading by example and with grace as we lead girls.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…” 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11, CSB
It is easier than ever to become isolated and self-limiting. We have everything at our fingertips. We can reach out to others through texts, direct messages, social media apps and even occasionally a phone call from our moms. We have the technology to order food, books and music with the quick tap on the glass screens of our phones. We can peek into the Instagram-ready lives of celebrities.
We are so active on the internet that we assume we don’t have to deal with people face to face. Even if we are doing a video chat, that can be an altered state of reality. I know there have been plenty of times when I have looked really cute from the waist up, but I am wearing sweatpants out of view.
The term “social media” is misleading. We think because it has the word “social” in it. We are somehow finding true connection with other people. The issue is the second word. “Media.” Everyday we are inundated with media and images and phrases. All put out to the world in a filtered, blurred, and skewed version. We all get to choose what we put on the web. In most cases we are putting out what we think is the best versions of ourselves. But, not the most authentic.
This leads to disappointment. We have an expectation of what people should be like based on their online persona and then they end up totally different.
Getting girls to actually focus on real life is hard. They often their number of followers or facebook friends, indicates relationships. It doesn’t. I dare you to ask the girls in your ministry how many of their Facebook friends have they met in person? How many of their instagram followers do they see on a regular basis?
What do we do about it?
What are some practical ways to girls to look up from their phones and engage the world around them?
- During small group time at youth group, always have an icebreaker ready. Make them find something they have in common. (Example: music, tv, sports, once I even had some girls that were in the same class at school and didn’t know it.)
- As the leader, make time outside church to get together with your girls.
- Challenge them once a month to hang out without you. Hold them accountable.
- If they must use their phones for something let it be something good and worthwhile, like doing a Bible reading plan/devotion together on the YouVersion Bible app.
Remind your girls and yourselves, that man was not meant to do life alone. God built us for community. First to have communion with Him and secondly to be in community with others.
Abby Underwood As a self-described introvert, Abby Underwood has struggled with social anxieties her whole life. Once she fully realized her value in Christ, she overcame the challenges of loneliness and stress that had dominated her relationships. With her unique perspective of life and being pastored by some of the leading pastors in small group development and church planting, Abby determined to use her life experience to make a difference. Her new found joy and freedom fueled Abby’s passion to help girls find their identity in Christ. To encourage high school and college aged girls to step out of their self-limiting boxes and become world changers, she created the service group, Girls Leading and Simply Serving (GLASS). Abby works as a member of the social media team and student ministry at Life.Church Hendersonville.