Written by: Dr. Whitaker, Head of School
Skyrocketing to a place of unparalleled prominence, social media has undoubtedly become one of the main tools of communication among the 18 year old and younger demographic. No major corporation, university, or church has a marketing strategy that does not heavily rely on its use. Yet, social media brings along with it some of the most rapidly growing challenges that schools and parents face today. It seems that every week a new, more allusive and potentially dangerous app is being made available to our children. These new tools allow users greater autonomy, more flexibility, all under the illusion of greater freedom.
Our homes and our school are not immune to these challenges. As parents, we must prayerfully construct appropriate guidelines and guardrails for our children. As a school community, we must be vigilant and instructive in our work with students.
To that end, let me offer three areas to consider with regards to social media: Biblical standards, guidelines for our school community, and cautions to consider:
Biblical Principles That Guide Our Social Media Use
1. Treasure Unity: In Ephesians 4 we are reminded, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
2. Practice Humility: Philippians 2 commands that we “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
3. Encourage One Another: The Bible talks about stirring one another up to love and good deeds. And showing honor to whom honor is due. While social media is a poor conveyor of bad news or gossip, it is a wonderful tool for encouragement and building into the lives of others.
Practical Guidelines For The First Academy Community
1. Be Transparent: Everything we say or write, and every photo we share should be something we would be proud to have displayed on the large screen during a chapel service.
2. Be Positive: Social media is a wonderful tool for celebrating the many blessings God brings into our lives such as family moments, school activities, and the accomplishments of friends.
3. Be Evangelistic: Jesus gave all believers a great commission – go share the Good News! Tweeting Bible verses and talking about your faith is the best use of social media.
Cautions To Consider
1. There Are No Secrets: The experts tell us that everything in our social media accounts can easily be discovered and made public – post carefully.
2. There Are No Editors: Sharing, repeating or retweeting what we read or what we see on social media feed is a woefully unreliable substitute for trustworthy news – share discerningly.
3. There Are No Do-Overs: Once you push the send button it’s almost always too late – type thoughtfully.
If we apply these Biblical principles, if we follow these practical guidelines, and if we embrace these cautions we will make progress toward being above reproach (Philippians 2:15) in the messy world of social media.
Steve Whitaker, Ph.D.
Head of School