500 million tweets daily on Twitter. 1.7 million pictures posted every minute on Instagram.  900,000 likes every minute on Facebook. 9000 snaps per second on Snapchat. We are swimming in social media. It is no surprise that statistics show that teenagers spend about 9 hours a day on social media. In his talk, Paul J. Kim challenged teenagers to use social media for good.

The Impact of Social Media

After sharing some of his experience growing up in the 80’s and 90’s and dealing with dial-up Internet, Paul pointed out the weird relationships people have with their phones. The trauma of simply dropping your phone accidentally is one example.

Paul shared a video that explained that engagement with social media releases dopamine in our brains. Dopamine makes us feel good, so we feel good when we get a text or a like and we feel bad when we get unfriended. Dopamine, however, is the same chemical that makes people feel good when they smoke, drink, or gamble and it is highly addictive.

Because of the prevalence of social media, many teenagers don’t know how to develop deep, meaningful friendships. When stressful things happen, they lack the coping mechanisms to deal with it and so they turn to social media for temporary relief.

Paul pointed out that social media is not really good or bad inherently. It’s up to us and how we use it. Social media becomes problematic when we rely on it to define our worth.

Social Media: For Good or Bad?

As Pope Francis has pointed out, communication tools have helped open up broader horizons for many people.

Paul offered suggestions of ways to use social media for good. Some examples are:

  • Inspiring posts and quotes
  • Sharing life events and good times with family and frineds
  • Witnessing your faith in Christ

In contrast, negative uses of social media include:

  • Bullying
  • Gossiping
  • Sexting
  • Pornography

We should use social media to be positive. Paul reminded the teens that it takes a person of character to lift another up.

Paul posed two questions to the teens:

  1. Who do you need to unfollow?
  2. What do you need to stop posting?

He challenged the teens to be authentically themselves and to find thier value not in social media but rather in knowing who they are and whose they are.

Quotables

We love objects and we use people; no wonder the world is so confused today.

Where does your worth come from? It’s not how people perceive you. It comes from who you are and your value in Christ.

If we started using social media for good to encourage and lift people up, what kind of a difference would it make?

Your life is a gift. There is no one else who can do you. So go do you well.

Watch Our Live Stream Footage of Paul J. Kim’s Talk!

Written by Stephanie To
Stephanie To works for the Respect Life Apostolate for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. A lawyer and bioethicist by training, she is passionate about the Catholic faith and pro-life issues. In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys making music (playing the violin, playing the handbells, and singing), cheering on the St. Louis Cardinals and KU Jayhawks, and hanging out with friends. You can follow her on Twitter at @stephaniehto.