Beginning at this place on this day, I exhort you to sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth, messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy, and literally to sweep the earth as with a flood.
- Elder D. Bednar
Melanie Sarao (Charlotte, North Carolina)
Ricks College, BYU-Hawaii
Central Florida Mission (Spanish speaking)
11-year old son
I have an eleven-year-old. He thinks he needs a phone, a personal computer, a game system and several other electronics. Since we homeschool and are selective about our activities, I always know where he is. He doesn’t need to keep up with everything that he thinks everyone else has. I chuckle inside every time he comes back to convince me his reasons why this is essential for him. What he does not understand is that I have been able to see how Satan uses these tools to distract and deceive our youth.
Social media in and of itself is not bad. The internet’s technology is a great thing which has helped us to connect to family who lives far away, study and learn about topics we are interested in, research our deceased family members and prepare their names for the temple along with many other good things. On the other hand, the social media tool is being used to spread lies far and wide, to bully and threaten, to mock the virtuous things of the earth and to spread addiction.
Lowering Moral Standards
President Boyd K. Packer said to the youth, “With all that is going on in the world, with the lowering of moral standards, you young people are being raised in enemy territory... I say again that youth today are being raised in enemy territory with a declining standard of morality. But as a servant of the Lord, I promise that you will be protected and shielded from the attacks of the adversary if you will heed the promptings that come from the Holy Spirit.” 1
So how are we to help them stay on the straight and narrow path when they are bombarded by every sin imaginable on social media?
Whisperings of the Holy Ghost
First, teach them to recognize the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. We won’t always be with our children, but the Holy Ghost is their constant companion to guide, warn, teach and protect.
Second, keep the lines of communication open between yourself and your youth. If they come across something by accident or if someone is sending them inappropriate things online, they need to know that they can come to you for help.
Understand the Enemy
Third, help them to understand how the enemy attacks. Knowing his battle strategies will help them to direct their course. The enemy is sneaky. Harmless little things can turn into a snare to entrap these precious children especially when it comes to the pressures that their peers are placing on them through social media.
Fourth, involve them in holy activities like serving in the community, searching for ancestors and going to the temple to complete those ordinances. They will feel happier and more confident in who they are as they involve themselves in fulfilling activities where they are focused less on themselves and more on others. In a world filled with selfies, reaching outside of themselves can enrich their lives immensely.
In a stake priesthood meeting my husband and I recently attended with our eleven-year-old son, we heard from a Bishop who is a Cyber Crime Investigator. He recommended setting up guidelines as a family to help protect our youth by limiting computer/ phone time, keeping electronics in a common area and using internet filters.
While we can never protect our youth from every sin or temptation, we can safeguard our home with family prayer, scripture study and family home evening. It is our challenge today to stand behind these righteous, elect youth and strengthen them now for the future. It is they who will prepare the world for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ in a coming day.
1 “Counsel to Youth”, President Boyd K. Packer, October 2011 General Conference