It takes less than five minutes in conversation with most teenage girls to recognize their world is being shaped by social media. Girls today decide what to wear, how to do their makeup, what to wear to prom, how to talk to boys, and more based on an influencer or friend they follow on Instagram or TikTok. And if that’s the case, we must ask ourselves how much more is their understanding of God, themselves, their world, and their relationships being formed by social media?
Similar to any other media outlet, social media apps are value neutral. On one hand, there are great opportunities for our girls to share their faith and be salt and light even on TikTok. There are countless stories of key influencers on TikTok who are using their platform to “Make Jesus viral!” Yet on the other hand, there are false prophets finding a way to break down dense theology into quick and quirky videos. But our girls are not slowing down to filter for truth. They simply slide up to the next video while this false theology is being implanted into their understanding.
While many parents and ministry leaders recommend abstaining from social media, I think it can be an incredible tool that allows us to walk the girls we love and lead through thinking critically and contributing carefully. We can lean in now to make them media literate, careful consumers, who recognize they can be passively shaped my small twists of information regarding God that point all the way back to a sly serpent in a beautiful garden.
- Limit the amount of time they are on social media. All good things remain good things with good boundaries.
- Listen to what you hear from her phone and talk about it. Even better, have your own social media account where you see the things she sees. Send her funny videos that are appropriate to communicate you “get it”. But as soon as you hear something that’s wrong, speak up. Don’t just tell her why it’s wrong, but facilitate a discussion that equips her with the tools to think more discerningly in the future.
- Ask her how she is using these social media platforms for the glory of God? Help her think of some ways she can. If she is not, then ask why this is a part of her life?
- Find some videos that twist theology or any truth about God and talk through them with her. Answer the question together: Is this Biblical? And if answering that question takes deeper study and maybe even seeking an authority on the issue, what a great opportunity to disciple your girl!
For Teen Girls:
- What is the greatest source of authority in your life? Is it the Bible or TikTok? If it’s the Bible, make sure you are taking time to read it and grow in it so you can know what is true and what is not.
- Look through what you post and ask yourself, does my social media presence point people to Jesus? Why or why not?
- If you come across a video that tells you something about God you’ve never learned before or talk about at church, ask the following questions:
- Is this true? Does the Bible say this?
- Who posted this? Are they a trusted source?
- What trusted adult can I talk to about this to know what to believe?
If ever there was a time to be careful about what we see, watch, and listen to, it is here and now for these daughters of the King. There is an enemy who is seeking to steal, kill, and destroy around every corner of anything that captivates their attention and likely right now, that is social media. So let us equip these girls to be salt and light everywhere they go and be critical thinkers in every channel they consume information, especially information that shapes their faith.
Emily Katherine Johnson lives in Rome, GA serving as the Coordinator of Discipleship Programming with the WinShape College Program and just married her best friend, Emery! EmK fell in love with girls ministry in her own student ministry in Spartanburg, SC and still enjoys mentoring middle and high school girls. Emily Katherine has a Masters of Divinity in Christian Education from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and she recently released a book on authenticity and grief entitled, Let’s Be Real! Connect with Emily Katherine: Website // Instagram