Last week NBC News published a news piece entitled, “It’s not worth it: Young Women on how Tik Tok has warped their body image.” https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/it-s-not-worth-it-young-women-how-tiktok-has-n1234193?utm_campaign=The%20Culture%20Translator&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=91938734&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_38dlsUGA7Q-6_nbYjYBia4sjJnPMG8vXZcADgY_411iygRHz61OzZxrvsGZSJPPAI-zEGlWWmuzo2GN8IcD8g0L6V3A&utm_content=91938734&utm_source=hs_email
Similar to Instagram and Snapchat, TikTok, is an app that caters to young people and its strength is in its communal nature. Teenagers express themselves by mimicking songs and music videos and also take in messages from other young people all over the country. Due to the pandemic and more time at home, experts fear TikTok has a negative impact on how young women view their body. Girls spend a lot of time on the app and dangerous posts such as “thinspo” shorthand for “thin inspiration.” are increasing in number and influence. In this particular article, experts weigh in on the dangers of yet another social media app influencing young women every day.
If our daughters are on Instagram, Snapchat or TikTok for a significant amount of time during the day, they are being negatively influenced. Period. We are formed by what fills us and there are very few messages on these apps promoting ideas that will form in our girls a healthy self-image, a gratefulness for their bodies, or a resolve to think beyond themselves. Those messages simply are not there. We allow them to be filled with lies and we allow those lies to form how they view themselves. How many articles will need to be published about the damaging effects of too much social media?
The article suggests that due to the pandemic young women have more time on their phones perusing apps like TikTok, thus increasing the problem. When I read this I could not help but think of the gift of more time. My oldest daughter is a sophomore. I have three years left with her living in my house. I want these precious years to bless and empower her! If you are a mom or a mentor who now has more time with your daughter make the time count! Time is a precious resource we have that is not to be wasted. Below are three ways to fill our daughters with truth and grace during a season of increased time. Our daughters are worth it!
- Set LIMITS/Create Possibilities:
Young women do not have the self control necessary to limit the amount of time they spend on social media thus limiting the amount of lies they take in about their bodies. If I am honest, neither do I. By placing limits on the amount of time spent online we provide young women with possibilities. Possibilities to think, act, and discuss ideas that they may not consider on their own. In Deuteronomy chapter 6 is a passage called the Shema. In the Shema parents daily declare the reality and faithfulness of God to their children. The passage does not describe a formal church service or even a formal time of devotion in their home. The parents remind their children within the rhythm of daily life: when they wake, as they go along the way, and before bed. These are three times during the day that by setting limits you open up the possibility for greater connection with your daughters:
- Morning: no screen time, make breakfast together, read a devotion together, talk/plan the day, remind her of her value and purpose.
- Car rides: As you go about daily commuting, limit screen time. If you are a working mom and have kids that have resumed sports, this time of day is a great opportunity for connection!
- Evening: Many young women go to bed with their phones and the images found therein are the last things they think about. Set a limit. Take her phone out of her room in the evenings. Take a walk, go get a late night snack, or read something together.
By setting limits we open up possibilities for some of the most important times of the day. If we don’t want our daughters filled with lies about themselves, let’s give them more opportunities to be formed by what is true.
2. LEVERAGE the time:
Right now most teenagers (and maybe us as well) have more time. This is an opportunity too good to pass by! Apps like TikTok will fill a girl’s time and train their minds to think of themselves, to critique their bodies, and to find their identity in outward appearance and peer affirmation. These thoughts will not lead to their flourishing or their happiness.
There are two verses that come to mind when I think about time and my children. Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise (wo)men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” We live in a world that is not conducive to wise and godly thinking. It is not conducive to using time to think deeply about what is true. No doubt apps like TikTok drastically reduce what our daughters think about. Social media teaches our girls to focus on what is temporal, carnal, and frivolous. Our daughters are created for what is eternal, godly, and full of purpose. Paul’s exhortation to the church in Ephesus still speaks to us today. We can leverage increased time to teach our girls to use their time wisely. Create something together, serve together, exercise together or read together about an issue you know little about. Over the last several months I have seen this to be true with my 15 year old. She has cooked and baked creative and healthy meals. She has served young people in our inner city, and she has biked all over. Much of this time has been spent together. I have three years left. TikTok will not win. My daughter is worth too much. And she knows it.
Another verse comes to mind when I feel overwhelmed as a parent: Lamentations 2:22-23, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” In this difficult season, God gives us new mercies every single day. Every morning you wake up with a fresh start. When I feel overwhelmed with parenting, when I fail to take advantage of the time, when I give up and give in because the pressure is too much, I remember God’s mercy is new to me and new to you every day. Our mistakes and shortcomings do not affect His mercy towards us. They also do not diminish the mercy He has for our daughters. Pray for God’s good mercy to transform your daughter each and every morning. He is faithful to do this.
The more time we spend with our kids the more opportunities we have to form them and to hear them. After dinner a couple of weeks ago, I was teasing my seven year old daughter. We were being silly and dancing and laughing. I pulled her in for a hug and put one hand on her shoulder and one on her belly. She pulled away and said, “I know, mommy. It (her belly) is not supposed to be this big.” Right away I felt deep sadness and shock. What was she talking about? It is in these moments where what we say matters but so does how we say it. I kissed her forehead and explained to her that our bellies expand as we digest our food. “Your belly is doing what God made it to do!” I did not want to make too big of a deal but I also wanted her to know her body is made to work in certain ways. What I heard in her statement is that she already has an idealized view of how her seven year old body should look. By creating opportunities to listen, the words they share reveal to us how to love and direct them into what is true and point out what is false.
James 1:19 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” This verse is huge for parenting teenagers! 🙂 It is really hard to not react or overreact and I fail regularly. Yet, when I am able to slow down, not react, and really listen, my relationship with my older daughter deepens. Doors open and I am able to get a sense of where I can speak into her life. The journey is beautiful and difficult and worth every misstep and every victory.
We will never regret spending too much time with our daughters. We will not look back and think, “I should have let her have way more screen time.” Time is a precious resource. Thinking through how we allow our daughters to spend their time is one of the best gifts we can give them. Set LIMITS that open up possibilities, LEVERAGE the increased time you have, and LISTEN to them. Do not give apps such as TikTok the time of your daughter’s day.