"Almost..." she replied sheepishly.
I looked over at the computer to see her Facebook page filling the screen.
"I'll exit out," she offered quickly.
"You're grounded from the computer for the rest of the day," I admonished.
Wisely, Shine said nothing in reply.
Yesterday & Today
Back in my day, we talked on the phone for hours on end. My teens prefer texting, which I like because it saves minutes. Yes, as a teenager, I spent time on the phone with friends having conversations my parents could not hear, but Facebook takes it to a whole new level. Why do teens love these places online? Well, teens have always wanted to connect with other teens with a great desire to build relationships and to feel close to others. Plus, there is that build in "radar" for attractive members of the opposite sex. No matter how godly your daughter or son is, they will notice when a handsome boy/pretty girl walks into the room.
Facebook is a large social network on the internet. Your child has a profile page where she posts notes, pictures, and personal information. Yes, these pages can be made private so that only his "friends" can see them. But, here is the important thing to keep in mind: Who are all these people your child is adding as friends? Are they really who they say they are? Predators are a huge problem online, but this article is not about that! (I'm not dismissing predators as a huge, scary problem, just not tackling it today.)
Profile pages give children the opportunity to put their best foot forward with the prettiest pictures, exaggerations about accomplishments, and all kinds of "little white lies" meant to impress. Friends add friends of friends and give access to their personal information to young people they don't even know. I'm sure if they met these young guys and gals in person, they would be shocked to find out who these people really are...rather than the image portrayed on their page.
Yesterday, I talked to a young teenage girl who loves Jesus. I asked her how her walk with the Lord was going.
"Well, not that great, but I just recommitted my heart to the Lord after Teen Night," she shared quietly.
"What was going on that made it 'not so great'?" I wondered aloud.
"Well, I started listening to secular music and wanting to dress immodestly...." she continued to share areas of compromise. I was dumbfounded. No one in her home or church behaves that way.
"Why were you wanting to do those things, Honey?" I asked gently.
"I wanted to impress my friends." she admitted.
"What friends?" I couldn't think of a single one who would be impressed by the kind of behavior she was describing.
"My friends on Facebook..." She went on to list several people that she had met briefly and added as a friend. Now, they were snares, pulling her astray.
Freedom without Protection
There is a freedom to sin and a huge opportunity for Satan to tempt Christians to sin on these online communities. Do not think that because teens love Jesus they will be immune to the temptations of the world. If your child has a Facebook or Myspace, get one too and check their profile page and messages every single day. Read all their friends' pages too and add their friends as your friends. Protect your child from the schemes of the enemy. When something is questionable on your teen's page or one of their friends' pages, discuss it with your teen and delete it. Catch it while there is still time. Do not allow the precious time you spent instructing your child in righteousness to be eroded because of a lack of vigilance on your part.
Here is the problem with Facebook and other online communities: lots of intimacy and freedom, no protection!
"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good." (Romans 12:9 NIV)
I am reminded of a line in the movie, Raising Helen where Helen's older sister says to a young man, "You are not a bad person, but this is very bad behavior!"
Remember that we are homeschooling for the glory of God, not the entertainment of our teenagers. Examine everything in light of eternity. Don't be afraid to protect your children from bad behavior and danger, even if it's coming through the internet!
For His Glory!
Meredith (Meredith Ludwig Curtis)