By Dannah Gresh, Founder of True Girl
There's a girl snapping selfies in her bed until she gets one she feels good about.
She posts it.
The comments start to roll in, including one about the unfortunate size of her ears. She moves to a mirror and tugs on them, then covers each with her hair.
It's a scene from The Social Dilemma, one of the most important documentaries a parent may ever see. The film showcases what hours and hours of screen time does for our mental and emotional well-being.
I've been concerned about screen time for a while now and I know the dangers, but this documentary was still invaluable for me. At one point, I looked at my husband and simply said, "I feel so used !"
Essentially, the programmers have created a forum which makes us, including your daughter, the product for sale—to marketers and purveyors of stuff we don't really need. To be lucrative, all Instagram, Facebook, and SnapChat need to do...is keep us addicted. And to do that they, they lie to us.
Eve believed the first lie. But there was only one source of lies: the devil disguised as a snake.
Today, our daughters can barely go an hour without being exposed to harmful untruth—about their beauty, their worth, their relationships and even God. Many of those lies are being presented to her —not by a snake, but—by a screen!
But not all snakes are bad, just like not all screens are bad!
Your daughter had to be taught how to properly tie and wear her shoes, right? Well in the same way, she must be taught how to use electronic devices in a mature and healthy way. So, why not take this time when there is a critical conversation in the air thanks to The Social Dilemma, to sit down and get strategic? (You may even start by watching the documentary together.)
In one of our past online Bible studies for teens, we went "Online with Eve" to learn 5 truths about self-control and we specifically applied them to social media. You can use them to have this important talk and based your conversation on God's Word.
Have your daughter open her Bible to Genesis 3 and read verses 1-13 and 20-21. Then, discuss these five things. (They'll be good for both of you!)
1. Everything God made is good.
(Genesis 1:31) The tree of knowledge of good and evil that Eve and her husband, Adam, ate from was good because God created it and everything God has created is good. Think about all the things that God created which were used to bring smart phones, tablets or screens into the world. God created the brains that developed the Internet. He made the materials that make up cell phones. He made the air and sound waves upon which radio and television pictures travel to our electronic devices. The internet, media, and electronics can be used for good things. We don't have to boycott social media entirely. But we do need to be discerning.
2. Satan is a liar. (Genesis 3:1; John 8:34)
Depending on what version of the Bible you're reading, Genesis 3:1 may say Satan was "crafty" which means, he is untruthful and sneaky. John 8:34 names him as the 'Father of all lies,' meaning every single untruthful thing you've ever heard or believed comes from him. Satan can even take something that is good and has a good purpose and lie to us so that we are tempted to do bad things with it. Satan twisted what God said in the garden to Eve and made her think that God was withholding something good from her. In the same way, Satan's lies can make us feel like we will miss out on something or we won't be considered cool if we follow God's way. When you start to feel that way, it is a wake up call to be alert and see if there is a lie lurking.
3. Eve had to make a decision to be God-controlled by being self-controlled. (Genesis 3:4)
Self-control is actually a fruit of the Spirit, meaning it comes from God. He gives us the ability to control ourselves so if we don't have God helping us, we can't have self-control. Eve had a decision to make - whether she was going to believe Satan, the liar, or believe God and use His help to control herself. Sadly, she chose to let Satan use her. We too have to decide whether we're going to let media tell us what to believe, control us and use us. Or whether we're going to use God's help, His Spirit, to have control over us.
4. Giving into temptation always leads to a situation. (Genesis 3:6-7)
Eve just took a bite of a piece of fruit. It seemed like nothing that important with no power to do something terrible. But, it did. It led to the feeling naked and ashamed. She experienced the painful loss of her world as she knew it when she was banished from the Garden of Eden. Being online can seem like no big deal. While the temptation to keep scrolling, write something mean, or post something sexy might seem like it's no big deal, you can never be sure what it is leading to. We must be careful. When we feel like we can't get by without another post or scroll or "like", it might be a good sign that you should get offline. Temptation leads you to a place where instead of feeling good or comforted, you feel naked and ashamed.
5. God will comfort you if you don’t keep hiding. (Genesis 3:21)
Adam and Eve had to come out and let God see them. Once they revealed themselves, God gave them fur coats (or garments of skins), which means He clothed them. He comforted them. If you find yourself in a virtual room you should not be in or seeing videos you know are wrong, don't hide! Tell someone. As long as we hide, we cannot receive the comfort God wants us to experience. If you feel like you cannot tell your parents or friends where you've been online, you can be sure of this: you should tell them!
We all face temptation—things that tease us into doing the wrong thing. But with God's help, we can all choose to be self-controlled. And when we mess up, when we give into temptation, we can also choose to come out of hiding.
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Our True Girl theme verse:
"So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31,32
Mom, the best way to teach your daughter to live like an authentic True Girl is to live like an authentic True Woman. And to do that, you've got to get your life lined up with the Truth of the Bible. Listen to Dannah Gresh every weekday on Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth's Revive Our Hearts podcast. The program features biblical teaching, interviews that offer godly advice, and other opportunities to abide in God's Word.
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