Social Is The New Parent

A few months ago, a mentor of mine said something that I believed was extremely profound, “This is the first generation that will not learn from their parents.”  Leaving his house for a 2 hour drive home, I grappled with that statement.  I kept thinking about the students at Southern Hills and student culture as a whole. My mind kept going to parents and the calling that is on their life to disciple their children. I was flooded with emotions. “This is the first generation that will not learn from their parents.”  The weight of this statement is deeply significant and deserves attention.

Teenagers, our children, are gathering data while online and through social media to determine truth. The data they are getting is rarely filtered and typically insufficient.

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Nielsen, a consumer watch group, recently shared this research concerning teens and social media, “Connected youths aged 2-15 years are spending an average of 11.5 hours with the Internet each week, increasing three-fold since 2007. And the older they become, the more time they spend online. Teens 13 to 15 years spend 18.7 hours in an average week online – equivalent to more than three days at school. By the time kids reach their teens they are dedicating more time online than their parents.”

Compare Nielsen’s research to an article online by Pew Research in March of 2013 that says, “Mothers spend about twice as much time with their children as fathers do (13.5 hours per week for mothers in 2011, compared with 7.3 hours for fathers).”  I believe that both pieces of data quoted here are generous in their findings. In my opinion, I believe teens spend MORE time online and social media than stated.  In either case, it’s safe to say that on average, teens spend more face-to-screen time learning through online sources than face-to-face time learning from their parents. 

Regardless of what the data shows, this fact is true, parents are still the most influential people in the lives of their children.  I don’t need a study to prove this to me or to convince you, because I hear it everyday.  I see it in every student, the longing and desire to be led by their parent, to be noticed, and even disciplined.  As a parent, you have have the incredible privilege to disciple and to lead your kid into truth.

In Deuteronomy 6:7, God says about his truth to “impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (NIV) I pray that you take this verse and memorize it, ask the Spirit to lead you in walking out this verse in the lives of your teens and children. In your own home, reverse the statement my mentor made, “My child will be discipled and led by me and the Holy Spirit, which lives in me.”

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