“I have experienced bullying on social media.” (33 percent)
“Looking at other people’s posts often makes me feel bad about the lack of excitement in my own life.” (39 percent)
“Looking at other people’s posts often make me feel bad about the way I look.” (31 percent)
Churches will increasingly be called on to address the trauma of a generation negatively impacted by social media use. But there is hope: with evidence showing that Gen Z believers have higher levels of satisfaction with their social media use, church leaders should consider how sermons, worship services, and ministry programs contribute to the mental and spiritual well-being of young people. More studies are needed as well to uncover the what and why of churched teens not reflecting the same levels of dissatisfaction with social media as their peers.
But what’s needed even more is a robust dedication to preparing teens to face challenges in the real and digital worlds. Sara Barratt, lead writer and editor for The Rebelution and author of next year’s Love Riot, argues that “the church needs to strengthen and resource teenagers, challenging them to go to Scripture, equipping them for ministry, and teaching them solid theology.” The level of comfort Gen Zers have in talking about their beliefs is also an opportunity for the church to equip this generation with the tools and knowledge necessary to dialogue about their faith (and beliefs influenced by their faith) in increasingly diverse educational, workplace, and social environments.
Finally, youth leaders should be deliberate about exposing the 41 percent of unchurched Gen Zers, who admit they are unsatisfied with their use of social media, to what the church has to offer that could improve their personal satisfaction and sense of well-being, online and offline.