Several years ago, when my oldest son Andrew turned 13, I made the decision to purchase him a cell phone. Wanting to provide some guidelines for navigating this new world, I came across a wonderful article by Toronto Pastor Tim Challies entitled, “Solomon on Social Media.” Building upon Tim’s (and King Solomon’s!) wisdom and insight, I put together a list that has become a guide not only for my son, but my three daughters too, as they each received their phone in 7th grade (my most recent daughter being this summer!).
As I have shared with my four children over the years, when we rely on God’s wisdom, not our own, our choices will be much more responsible. But if and when those difficult lessons come and we fail to heed Scripture’s guidelines, we must learn to accept the consequences and allow them to be equally instructive.
For that is when God’s wisdom and grace are most needed.
I hope that you will find the below list helpful, as you discuss these issues with your children as well!
Top 10 Rules to Guide your Texts, Emails and Social Media Posts
1. Always think through what you write before you send a text/email and make a social media post. Realize that anyone and everyone may view/read what you write!
“Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Proverbs 29:20).
Corollaries to #1 (a.k.a. “The Murray Rule”):
- Do not email/text/post embarrassing pictures or videos of yourself or our family to other people without our permission. Once it is out there, you can never retrieve it. It may even make it to YouTube!
- Do not forward email/text conversations with Mom or Dad without our permission. Realize that anyone and everyone may view/read what we write! “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise” (Ephesians 6:2).
2. Build others up—do not cut them down. Not only is that biblical, but you must realize that anyone and everyone may view/read what you write!
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29)
3. Avoid gossipers and gossiping about others. Realize that anyone and everyone may view/read what you write!
“The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body” (Proverbs 29:22).
4. Avoid spreading rumors. Don’t always believe what you read!
“Like one who binds the stone in the sling is one who gives honor to a fool” (Proverbs 26:8).
5. If someone writes something you disagree with, sometimes it is best not to respond. Don’t be afraid to seek our advice!
“Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself” (Proverbs 26:4).
6. However, if someone is spreading lies/rumors and hurting others, sometimes we need to prayerfully respond. Don’t be afraid to seek our advice!
“Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes (Proverbs 26:5)
7. Avoid creating problems.
“Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling” (Proverbs 26:27).
“As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife” (Proverbs 26:21).
8. Avoid other people’s problems.
“Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears” (Proverbs 26:17).
9. Don’t brag about yourself! People like humility 🙂
“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger and not your own lips” (Proverbs 27:2).
“One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor” (Proverbs 29:23).
10. Protect yourself. Don’t give your number/information to people you don’t know!
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (Matthew 5:17).
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)