Have your ever heard of the 10,000 rule? Malcolm Gladwell popularized the phrase in his book Outliers.  The 10,000 rule is the idea that it take roughly 10,000 hours of practice at something to master it. You don’t become great by accident.

Most people would consider The Beatles the greatest rock-n-roll band of all time. It wasn’t by accident the the world’s first “boy band” became such huge stars.  Before they ever released their first album, The Fab Four had already played more than 10,000 hours together. It may have looked to the world like The Beatles exploded onto the scene, but in reality they had been honing their craft for years. There are countless other stars with similar stories of having a dream, and through determination and grueling practice have become famous in their own right.

Social media stars are the newest sensation in pop culture and their rise to fame is much different than the idols of the past. They are more created rather than born of hard work. They don’t burst into popularity after 10,000 hours of practice and commitment to learning how to act, sing, or play an instrument. Think about the huge boy band Five Seconds of Summer. They were discovered on YouTube. After several videos of the four teen boys was watched by millions of girls, the record contract followed along with superstardom. They aren’t the only such social stars that teens are following and emulating today.

In 2015 Forbes Magazine issued their first ever list of 20 Most Popular Social Media Stars. These are all people that became famous for doing things such as playing video games (PewDeePie), providing makeup tips (Jenna Mourey), performing pranks on people (Roman Atwood), and as hard as it might be to believe, guys creating videos of people watching videos (Fine Brothers). Combined these four alone have more than 50 million followers and make over 25 million dollars as social media stars. This sort of instant and alternative path to success makes it difficult to argue with your hardworking college student when he is contemplating “playing video games for a living.”

As teenagers look at the lives and social fame of these social media starts, it can put undue pressure on them to match a semblance of their popularity in their own lives. For instance, many girls use Instagram with the “100 rule” always in their mind. It’s the idea, that after an allotted amount of time (typically three days) if your photo doesn’t at least 100 “likes” then you’re supposed to delate it  and try another. If your photo isn’t “good enough” to get at least 100 people to give you a thumbs up, then you obviously aren’t popular enough to keep your photo on there.

Instead of social media being a fun place to connect with people, the fame game has morphed it into an online version of a high school popularity contest. Teens feel the need to be riskier and riskier with the crazy antics of their YouTube videos in a false hope of becoming the next viral video sensation. The say yes to every friend request in order to have bragging rights of the most “friends” among their friends on Snapchat. Many of them retweet posts from famous people in order to have their username linked to the famous person.

Here’s the question you have to ask your teen concerning their quest for online attention: If you never got another retweet, follower, thumbs up, favorite, add, or friend request, would it change your identity? Would it change how you view your self-worth?

In order for your teen to make it through the gauntlet of attacks to their identity, it is important for you to help them see themselves for who Christ declares they are in him. The social media stars of today will soon be replaced with someone even more popular, but your child’s identity in Christ is a constant that will remain for all of eternity. Here are just a few of the scriptures to remind them of concerning their true identity:

  • You are the light of the world – Matthew 5.14
  • You are a child of God – John 1:12
  • You are a temple that is the dwelling place of God’s spirit – 1 Corinthians 3:16
  • You are God’s workmanship; made new to do his work – Ephesians 2:10
  • You are chosen by God; holy and dearly loved – Colossians 3:12
  • You are righteous and holy – Ephesians 4:24

The goal isn’t to get rid of all social media. It’s to help your child to put social media in its proper place. Social media should never determine who we are, but it can be an avenue to express who we are. It is always a fine line we play to use social media without letting it conform us. Regardless if your teen is using one social media platform or has six accounts, that pull will always be there to check their posts everyday, see what others say about them, and find out who is connected to who.

You play a much bigger role in their life than you think to shape their understanding of their true identity. It is quite possible that you might be the only voice reminding them of their position in Christ. Let your voice be louder than all the rest.

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