Facebook: does it help teens “like” or “dislike” themselves?

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While the popularity of Facebook ebbs and flows depending on the newer forms of social media (such as Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and whatever the “next big thing” will be…) it’s a pretty regular platform for youth to interact on. No matter what the latest and greatest social networking tool is, almost 94% of teens retain and remain active on their Facebook accounts. (Pew Research)

OneHope’s ABY global data shows that 1 out of every 3 teens say that the Internet has at least some influence on their lives.

Add those statistics to some alarming new studies that indicate Facebook is making people feel bad about themselves, and we find ourselves staring into a vast and unchartered digital space that could hold huge potential for ministry.

A recent two-week study led by the University of Michigan found that Facebook users wound up feeling worse about themselves and their mood darkened the more they browsed the social site.

A plethora of studies are being done to determine social media’s effect on well-being, producing mixed results.

One study will tell you that viewing your own profile can be self-affirming, it will even increase your life satisfaction, social trust, civic engagement, and political participation.

At the same time, another study unveils the dark side that alleges social media evokes envy of others’ activities and profile, leaving users with diminished self-images, or that users with low self-esteem don’t really benefit from “embellishing” their online image.

I don’t need additional studies or statistics to read the writing on the proverbial Facebook wall of teens and youth. They are lonely. They are struggling with self-image. They are afraid of missing out if they don’t stay socially engaged or keep up an aggrandized image. They are empty and looking for something or someone to fill a void.

We have an answer for that. We even have apps for that! We have a Book that is way more fulfilling than any Facebook post they are perusing for answers.

We have an incredible opportunity to meet teens where they are, which is in a dark, lonely corner staring at a screen and not too happy with what is staring back at them. What are you doing to meet teens where they are?

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