The Student Newspaper of Westminster Christian Academy

The Wildcat Roar

The Student Newspaper of Westminster Christian Academy

The Wildcat Roar

The Student Newspaper of Westminster Christian Academy

The Wildcat Roar

Who Are You Following?

Sadie Schmidt
Image of a bible with a phone on top open to social media apps

Have you ever meant to do something on your phone and suddenly found yourself an hour deep in scrolling? This is the reality for millions of teens around the world. According to the CTRL, (The Center for Behavioral Health), a study done showed that almost 90% of teens over 13 have some sort of social media. This means that for many, doom-scrolling, defined as being unable to stop scrolling through any social media app, has become one of this generation’s most practiced habits.


On average, teens spend about 5 hours a day scrolling on social media, a MarketWatch study found. This means that in total they will spend a quarter of their lives on apps such as Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok. Do you still believe that these apps hold no influence? As many as 72% of teens have reported being cyber bullied, either in the form of name-calling, being the subject of false rumors, or receiving unsolicited explicit messages. Furthermore, it is not surprising that new studies are linking rising anxiety levels to the increased use of social media. 


After these statistics, it is important to ask the bigger question: How many people even recognize that this is a habit? The definition of a habit is “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.” When the average time teens spend scrolling is over five hours a day, there is no doubt that scrolling has become a regular or settled practice that is difficult to give up. 


In the case of most teens, the solution is just to ignore the consequences and continue to mindlessly scroll. For them, the wake up call about the dangers of social media will continue to fall on deaf ears until it becomes a serious issue. 


However, others might be aware of the consequences and want to do something about it but are unsure how to move forward. In this case, these people have already done the most critical step of recognizing that they first have a destructive habit, and secondly want to change it. This shows a level of maturity that already suppresses the first group of individuals. 


After becoming self-aware enough to recognize doom-scrolling is a bad habit, the next step is attempting to change it. This could look like taking the drastic step of deleting all social media, however, there are a multitude of more applicable practices to mitigate the impact of social media. 


There are many different apps that allow for habit tracking or increased mindfulness. Individuals also have options for screen limits, or removing apps from your home screen to force yourself to think before opening the app. 


Another option is starting a daily devotional. This option allows participants an added benefit. By decreasing the time spent on social media, and increasing the time spent in the word of God, we can begin to learn more about how “following” worked in Jesus’s time, and care more about our identity as children of Christ than followers of popular influencers. 


In Matthew 4, Peter and his brother Andrew were fishing all night and were unable to catch anything. When they first saw Jesus, he told them to cast their net out on the right side of the boat. This command was almost laughable to Peter but he did so anyway and sure enough he was almost unable to draw his net back in because it was so full of fish. After falling at Jesus’ feet, and recognizing him as the son of God, Jesus tells him, “Follow me and I will make you a fisher of men.” 


The disciples gave up everything, in the end even their lives to follow Jesus. But in their eyes it was entirely worth it because they knew that he was the true Messiah. 


Today, Jesus offers the same promise to teens and adults alike, as he did to his disciples thousands of years ago. He offers peace in a world of anxiety, and joy in a world of depression. This is why so many people remark that they are a “new creation” after coming to know Jesus. 


Now, it is also important to remember the other part of Jesus’s command. He tells his apostles to “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:17). For them this was truly a lifetime profession. This meant traveling, often on foot, to dangerous areas just to tell maybe 100 people about the resurrection of Jesus. 


This is where the redemptive part of social media comes into play. The apostles would absolutely lose it if they could see that at the click of a button, people have the opportunity to reach thousands of others with the gospel. Yet many hesitate to do this for fear of being unfollowed, or disliked. But God rejoices when even one soul is won over for the kingdom. So even if 99 people swipe through without caring, the one person who is convicted by this, is exactly the reason why platforms like this can be so influential. 


In the end, it is most important to recognize that social media is in fact a habit, with potentially destructive consequences. Then, showing a level of maturity by attempting to find a way to replace or reduce the impact that social media has on our lives. The solution can look different for everyone, maybe this means deleting all social media for a while, or setting limits. But the most important and universal solution to social media and the problems caused by it is by asking yourself who or what are you following? We are all “disciples” of something. However, if your discipleship is causing you to lose a quarter of your life mindlessly scrolling, then maybe it’s time to reconsider what influencer we are following. 

More to Discover