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By Jeremy Steele*
Many of the problems online stem from the same root cause and if we don’t find a work around, we will endanger the long-term welfare of our children. I know that statement sounds extreme, but I believe that the root problem at the center of all the social media woes people like to blog about (cyber-bullying and the like) is one that is inhibiting our kids' basic psychosocial development in the years from 10-18.
At these stages, children/teens are developing many fundamental skills that allow them to understand and relate with their world. They are learning how to interpret social cues, how to offer accurate snapshot impressions of themselves, how to deal with interpersonal conflict/pain, and through all of this they are developing an understanding of who they are in the world.
Those tasks are not completed by reading a book or even by spending time in a therapist’s office. They are learned by interacting with people in the real world.
Kids go to school and make an offhand comment about a friend’s clothes. When they see their friend’s face fall, they realize that people can be hurt by offhand remarks about their appearance.
At another time while meeting someone new, they begin sharing about something too personal for a new acquaintance only to see the person squirm and walk away. They realize that it is important to begin getting to know people with less intense subjects.
*Jeremy Steele is the author of Reclaiming the Lost Soul of Youth Ministry. This article is from his blog, "Jeremy Words" He is a Licensed Local Pastor in the United Methodist Church serves as the Next Generation Minister at Christ UMC in Mobile, AL, where he oversees ministry to teens, young adults and young families, leads an evening worship service, and teaches throughout the church.