Instagram and Snapchat dominate the social media habits of teens, and they have developed rules and practices for interactions. For instance, all teens tend to keep their accounts private, but some teens have also set up second Instagram accounts under a different name to post party pictures. In addition, teens must at least “like” a friend’s selfie and, typically, post an emoji offering support. Vague comments like “nice” are overanalyzed. Oversharing is termed, “awkward.”
Why this story matters for church leaders:
Teens use social media for connection but also for self validation, and both of those uses offer value and challenges that leaders need to take into account.
- Image Conscious: Teens are less likely to use Facebook, since they prefer the image-based social media platforms like Instagram and SnapChat.
- The Good News: Teens who are warned by their parents about privacy concerns have rightly kept their accounts private, meaning that good guidance can really pay off.
- The Bad News: With tendencies to post carefully posed selfies that are sometimes deleted within two hours if they aren’t validated by enough “likes,” teens are hungry for validation and praise, making them fragile and deeply worried about their image.
How can churches speak words of hope and Christ-centered validation to today’s teens without writing off their social media networks?
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