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Talk to them in person… no shot

Teens today get to know people at a faster rate than ever, who needs to even ask somebody where they are from? Thanks to social media and the internet most teenagers today are top-tier detectives and can figure out most things about someone in a couple searches. Not to mention texting and Snapchatting late at night. You can know someone so well without ever looking into their eyes. The big problem here is you learning about an online version of that person, and their learning about an online version of you. Talking to them in person puts you in a vulnerable position because you're different in person than online, will they even like me? Talk to them in person….. no shot.

Statistics in Canada show today that the average teenager is staring at screens for 8 hours and 39 minutes per day, that's more than a full-time job. Now think about how much people can put their worth or who they are into their career. In the same sense, teenagers are putting their worth or who they are into their screen life. There are so many different social areas for teenagers on their phones for example most teenagers would be active on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Snapchat, discord, beReal, etc. Most teenagers attend school and maybe 3 extracurricular activities at most so they are active in more areas digitally than physically and it can be all-consuming.

There is a major problem in young dating relationships specifically where the digital presence is the majority of the relationship. Teenagers are two different people, the physical self and the online self are two very different people as the online self says and does things that the physical self would never do and this leads to confidence in relationships. This online confidence leads to real-life insecurities. Young people will chat for hours online but walk past the same person at school the next day with a nervous stomach not making eye contact. 

The best solution for this is to always make a real-life connection with someone before it moves digital, this is how it works in friend relationships. Friends don't start chatting and sending things back and forth digitally until their friends in person first and this is much better. If you are or know a teenager I advise that relationships all start in person, I encourage you to get to know someone while looking into their eyes, get to know the real them, and let them know the real you. 

This digital self vs physical self has led to more personal insecurities in young people, when it's a personal moment there are no filters over your appearance or time to craft the perfect response and these insecurities are playing a part in the growing mental health issues that are affecting teenagers younger and younger every year. I want to see confident teenagers who love themselves and love others and more real relationships can help build confidence. 
I am only 23 and would not be super proud to share my screen time with you all. I do not want the takeaway to be “Screens are bad, get rid of them”, screens and social media have lots of problems but it's not all bad there are some great benefits so I don't think the solution is to ban screens but learn how to utilize them properly. The majority of teenagers today would say that their online friendships are just as impactful and meaningful to them as their in-person friendships. The digital world creates a bigger pool for people to find people and this is helping combat the increase of loneliness in young people. Social media keeps young people connected, not just with their communities but globally which is something past generations didn't have. Young people are very intelligent, they can learn so much and gain knowledge very fast, and utilizing this is important.  

Banning screens is not the answer, helping young people learn the right and wrong ways to use it is important, it is the place to learn and stay connected but it is definitely not the place to get to know someone that you can get to know in person. It is important that young person who is influenced easily knows their worth and who they are before they open the phone. Genesis 1:27 says all people were made in God's image, the next generation needs to know their worth and Jesus died on the cross for them, they are worth a lot. They are made to be in a relationship with God, that is who they are.

Pastor Clay