It used to be “Do you know where your child is right now?”
But now it’s “Do you know what your child is tweeting right now?”
Social networking has been in the news a lot (for instance, because of its role in the violent protests going on in Middle Eastern countries right now). But parents may not be aware of the important impact social networking, and in particular Twitter, has on their children.
If you are one of those parents unaware of the magnitude of this medium, you should go see the movie about Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.
I saw this movie on Sunday, and I must say that it is an interesting “documentary” of a heretofore impossible phenomenon on the role of social networking’s effect on culture. Bieber makes frequent posts on Twitter, which by itself has exploded his popularity. It is evident that he also worked hard to get where he is, but without Twitter, it is likely he would be less known. Currently Bieber has over 7.5 million Twitter followers. That means that every time he posts something, over 7.5 million people—mostly young women and girls—are able to read it immediately.
So, as for the matter of guarding your children’s hearts, do you know if they follow him? I am not saying it is a bad thing to follow him, but it is fair warning that many young girls who follow him may actually feel like they are having a personal relationship with him every time he “sends them” something. If you, as a parent, are not aware of this effect on their hearts, you should go see this movie. It is incredible.
I also think that parents should be aware of the lyrics of the songs their kids listen to, and also the character of the musician. There is no doubt in my mind that the spiritual vacuum of our society today is largely a result of parents abandoning their God-given role as the dominant influence in their kids’ lives.
So who is Justin Bieber? Do his lyrics convey a redemptive message, or a message of secular humanism?
Justin Bieber was raised in an apostolic church in Stratford, Ontario. That church’s website explains that they try to guide each member to his or her “destiny,” toward one of five gifts according to Ephesians 4:11 (“He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers.”). It is said that his mother sought the counsel of the elders at church about his future.
So I looked for an inkling into his spiritual condition in his music. Now, let me be quick to add, I have read very few of his lyrics, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard one of his songs outside of this movie. I am not being judgmental, because I don’t think I can fairly say one way or the other. However, in all of the lyrics I heard in this movie, the closest I heard to the message of his church was:
I never thought that I could feel this power
I never thought that I could feel this free
I’m strong enough to climb the highest tower
And I’m fast enough to run across the sea
Cuz there’s just no turnin back
When your heart’s under attack
Gonna give everything I have
Cuz this is my destiny
I will never say never…
Justin Bieber is clearly multi-talented, and he seems in the movie like a nice young man. As is obvious in the movie, he has captured the hearts of millions and millions of young girls. I have no way of knowing whether this movie fairly portrays his character or not. But I do know the heart of my 16-year-old daughter well enough to know what her reaction is. In fact, it was at her prodding that I saw the movie.
Her reaction is irrelevant to my point. My point is this: If you are a parent, you must educate yourself about the influences on your children, which are vastly different from when you were their age. If you don’t know their heart in what they are sharing on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, or even more dangerous sites, you may blindly be contributing to emotional or spiritual setbacks in their lives.