Belonging in a Digital World

“When social media is used to enhance relationships, it can become a useful tool for reducing loneliness. Staying in touch through social media with friends can increase connections for young people.

But the opposite also happens. When social media is used as an escape from in-person interaction with others, kids lose out. It can become easy to “hide in plain sight” on devices to protect themselves from rejection—but hiding comes at the cost of increased loneliness.”

The digital world can be a great space for connection. But as anyone who has spent much time online knows, it can also be complicated and painful—especially for your students.

Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) is encouraging leaders to let young people know they don’t have to navigate these experiences alone, sharing 3 conversations to help teens in your life find belonging in a digital world.

Here are a few ways provided by FYI on having important conversations with teenagers about technology and belonging:

1. Ask questions like:

  • What are your favorite and least favorite social things to do on digital devices? What do you get out of that time?
  • Have you been able to make new or deeper connections through digital communication? What is special about those connections?
  • What’s one way you can be wise as you navigate the online world?

2. Encourage a student or group of students to take an “audit” of their online life by asking:

  • Check the amount of time you spend each day/week on particular devices, platforms, and games.
  • Ask yourself why you’re showing up in these spaces.
  • Notice how you feel after spending time on social media or gaming.
  • Moving forward, consider what new boundaries you want to set for what you’ll do and who you’ll interact with online.

3. Read Scripture that might inform how we shape our digital lives.

While the Bible may not speak directly to social media and the internet, it has plenty to say about how we interact with one another and the impact of what we consume. We can foster belonging and true connection wherever and however we’re with others.

Read more on this through Fuller Youth Institutes blog here!

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Ofa Foiakau is the Youth/High School Ministry Lead and Field Officer (Central/West) within the PULSE team.

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