Opinion Columns & Blogs

Measuring self-worth

In the process of writing and editing my book, I started focusing more and more on navigating my children through a world increasingly hostile to their values. As a person of faith, it is going to get harder to navigate western society as it rejects its intellectual underpinnings.

With both a Biblical sexual ethic out the door and a twisted view on right and wrong growing, what my children will find is that doing right means doing what is not liked.

So in this world, how should we measure self-worth and how should we help our children deal with such an issue? I have talked to a variety of theologians, sociologists and others on this topic and think it worth passing on their advice.

First and foremost, your children probably do not need ready access to social media. Snapchat, where pictures disappear, is a playground for temptation that a teenager does not need. The idea that nothing there is forever can lead to bad behavior and, in reality, many things there do last forever.

As the world increasingly insists we be defined by the worst thing we have done and we are never allowed to grow beyond it, Snapchat’s allure can potentially leave your child’s reputation in tatters.

Second, listen to your children. Do they talk about retweets or likes on Instagram or Facebook? Do they talk about YouTube famous people and their number of subscribers or do they count the number of friends and followers they have on Instagram or Facebook? If so, you need to be careful as they may be developing benchmarks of self-worth based on what others think about them.

In fact, that is the biggest danger of social media. Many people, not just kids, are starting to measure whether something is good or bad based on how many retweets someone gets or how many followers, fans, and friends they have. That then incentivizes behavior to boost attention seeking for the sake of attention.

If you child is measuring his self-worth by likes on social media, delete your child’s account.

Our children need to understand that their self-worth comes from being created in the image of God. They get self-worth by being ethical individuals who do good for others, treat others with respect, and that they themselves deserve respect.

They may be good on a ball field or in art or even in front of a video game. Each child is unique and each has something they are good at. They should get self-worth from this and understand that each person is different.

Social media does not just breed a desire for attention seeking and set up our children to measure their self-worth through what others think of them, it also encouraging a herd mentality that, like the pigs possessed by Legion, runs downhill to drowning and never up hill to something better.

My biggest worries these days are about how my kids will fare in the world and how they will be grounded. And honestly, my fear is not so much about my kids, but about others. In a world where we are all staring at our phones at dinner (I am guilty), we all need to do a better job of modeling good behavior for our children.

We all need to do a better job of turning off social media and turning on life outside the front door. We are in for dark times if our children cannot find their self-worth there, and instead find it on social media.

Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.