Forty percent of American’s teenagers are using an app called Kik. Why does this matter?
Kik allows users to text anonymously. All they need is a user name which they can make up. As a result, it is difficult for parents and law enforcement to trace conversations. And that makes Kik popular with predators.
Nicole Madison Lovell was a thirteen-year-old liver transplant and cancer survivor. Two Virginia Tech freshmen communicated with her via Kik and are now charged with her murder. Several other cases involving child abuse are linked to the app. The company does its best to cooperate with law enforcement authorities. However, it does not retain the information sent on its app, so its help is limited.
One expert on child abuse cautions us against “technophobia.” He says the problem has to do with character traits, not technology. Those who are depressed, socially isolated, dealing with parental conflicts, or bullied at school are at higher risk.
Social media provides an unprecedented platform for bullying and abuse, making the need for biblical self-esteem greater than ever. What can we do?
One: See ourselves as God sees us.
In John 17, Jesus stated that his Father loved his disciples “even as you loved me” (v. 23). “Even as” can be translated, “to the same degree as.” Think of it: the Father loves you as much as he loves his Son. Now base your self-esteem not on how you see yourself or how others see you, but on how your Father sees you. Because he is love (1 John 4:8), he loves you because he loves you. He will never love you more, or less, than he does right now.
Two: See others as God sees them.
Every lonely or hurting person you know is a candidate for abuse and depression. Look for people who need the hope of Jesus. Commit time and resources to sharing his love in yours.
To that end, I want to tell you about the Bee Friendly Boot Camp. It “delivers exciting, engaging and effective tools that empower kids to banish bullying through character and leadership that will last a lifetime.” The program partners with schools and communities to provide digital character and leadership training and tools for students, parents, and teachers. Please go to their website for more information.
C. S. Lewis: “I read in a periodical the other day that the fundamental thing is how we think of God. By God Himself, it is not! How God thinks of us is not only more important, but infinitely more important.”
How does God think of you today?
Note: For more on bullying, please see Nick Pitts’s When Bullies Win, Communities Lose.