Video Games & Teens: Understanding Digital Natives, Pt. 2

Statistics tell us that the most common forms of media/entertainment among teenagers are: social media and video games. Statistically speaking, girls dominate social media and boys dominate video games. These are not exclusive categories as many guys engage on social media and many girls play video games.

A pressing question for Christians today is, “Does the Christian faith have something to say about how we engage on social media, play video games, and use technology?” Does the Bible gives us direction on these issues? I believe the answer is “Yes!” God’s Word gives us wisdom for all of life and calls us to submit the details of our daily life as an act of worship. In fact, I want us to look at Romans 12:1-2 to see how it applies to our use of media and video games.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a [living] sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:1-2

Romans 12:1-2 calls us to submit our daily life to God as an act of worship. Our worship is in response to his grace and mercy demonstrated in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Incentives and punishments may cause a teenager to adjust their use of social media and video games to conform to please their parents, but only knowing and enjoying the grace of God will lead them to submit these things to God and seek to please him. Perhaps most importantly for this topic, we are called to submit our everyday, ordinary life to God as act of worship. There is no compartmentalizing some areas from other areas of our life. Romans 12:2 further explains what submitting our daily lives as an act of worship looks like. It involves resisting the sinful patterns of this world. Social media and video games have a way of conforming us to the patterns of this world. Instead, God calls us to be transformed in our thinking so that we may be able to discern God’s will in the details of our lives. A better way of saying this is: We worship God when we apply His wisdom to real life.

How does this help us think through social media and video games?

1. God cares about our use of social media and video games

Whether intentionally or unintentionally, we dismiss God from key area of our lives. For many teenagers, those areas include social media and video games. A more subtle but equally damaging practice is comparing ourselves to others. We look at how we use social media or video games in comparison to our peers. Many teens feel justified that they are not sexting, using a fake Instagram account, or totally obsessed with a particular game like their friends. However, this puts our eyes on the wrong standard. In response to God’s mercy, we are called to fix our eyes on Him and submit our daily lives to him as a living sacrifice.

Ask yourself: How am I doing at submitting my use of social media and video games to God?

Make this your prayer: God show me areas of my life, especially when it comes to social media or video games that are not honoring to you. Give me discernment about how to use these things.

2. God calls us to resist the sinful patterns of this world as they express themselves in social media and video games

Before going any further, I think it is important to think rightly about social media and video games. In and of themselves, they reflect humanity’s God-given task of shaping creation for practical purposes. They can and often do serve good, God-honoring purposes. However, like all creation, they are subject to the fall. Though they may have God-honoring intentions, they can easily become idols and magnify our rebellion against God. It is how we use social media and video games that determines if they are being used to honor God or enable sin. This requires discernment in how we use social media and video games, which involves examining our own use of them and how they affect our hearts.

In this light, by their very nature social media and video games have a way of conforming us to the pattern of the world around us. Sometimes this isn’t a bad thing. Social media has brought about new ways to stay connected and communicate. Video games not only foster creative-thinking but also provide a way for people to connect around similar interests. While we should appreciate these things, we also need to address the negative effects they can have. More often than not, social media and video games enable our idols or provide a context for already-present sin struggles to be manifested. Consider the following:

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Source: Church Leaders

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