As a parent, we have all warned our children about the dangers of social media. We put filters on the sites they can access. We pray that the freedom they do have will be used with discernment. Yet, as I scroll through my social media feed today, I am heartbroken. Two teens lost their life today near my hometown and before the family was ever notified of their loss, pictures of the teen’s lifeless bodies were posted on social media. Facebook can delete the images, but those that unfortunately came across the horrific pictures on social media may never be able to delete it from their minds. 

So much of today’s world is lived out online. We share every detail of our lives with little concern of its effects on those around us. How many times have people made discriminating remarks online only later to be fired for the very words they typed? How many times has a picture or an opinion shared online caused upheaval and division? And now look at today’s news; two teens are dead and their images casually posted on social media by the surviving passenger.

Social media has made us studiously brave and callous to the needs and feelings of others. It frightens me, actually, because we forget about the people that sit behind the screens reading our words. We forget about the damage clicking “post” can do to families, reputations and character. And trust me, I can only guess the juvenile who posted those horrific images will forever be scrutinized and could possibly even face much graver consequence than he/she could have ever considered. The ostracism in their community can often times be worse than legal ramifications. The post will follow him/her long after the images are deleted. As I read the article today, all I could think about was what I need to tell my own children, not just about the cautions of social media, but the important lesson about living life, online and off-line.

If I could teach my children anything, I think I would sum it up in a few words.

Be selfish.

Be selfish with what you share. I want my children to understand there is a time and place for sharing your life with the outside world. I pray my children keep a few wonderful pieces of their family and the memories they make all to themselves. Not every little moment should be shared or cataloged with those around you.

Be selfish with your words. Sometimes, even when we think a post or a person warrants a response, it is best to keep our words and thoughts to ourselves. Often times than not, the argument won’t change the opinion but it will drastically effect the relationship. Value the relationships more than being right.

Be selfish with your time. We are all guilty about spending hours online scrolling social media. We spend hours wishing our lives were different, comparing ourselves and our families with others. I pray my children get lost in the moments around the dinner table with friends and family laughing and not because they were glued to a computer screen.

My heart goes out to the families that lost a child today. My heart goes out to the generation that has been solely raised in an online world. I pray there are many selfish moments for our children, online and off-line. 

Sarah West

Sarah West is a homeschool mom, freelance writer and first-time author of Walking the Talk: A Parent's Guide to Intimacy and Healthy Relationships. Formerly, she served as the Director and Youth and College Counselor for Crisis Pregnancy Centers in Mississippi. Sarah writes for various online and print magazines on matters of faith and family, and believes in strengthening family relationships and reconnecting parents to their children. You can connect with Sarah and keep up to date with her writing through her blog at Find her book here: