Social media offers us the ability to share our thoughts and pictures with friends and family near and far, or those we don’t even know. It can connect us with people all over the world, providing an opportunity to hear and learn from those with different experiences or expertise than we have. The flip side of this, of course, is that rather than an interesting learning experience, scrolling social media can become a mundane waste of time or worse. Rather than connecting with others in meaningful ways, we begin comparing ourselves with others, negatively impacting our happiness or sense of satisfaction with our lives.
Play the following video for your students [1:33].
Exploring the effects of social media use on our happiness
- Has time on social media ever caused you to compare yourself with others or generally feel less satisfied with yourself or your life? How so? (Answers will vary. Students will likely want what they see on social media, whether an advertisement for something they don’t have, a friend’s trip they’d like to take, or an instablogger’s life they’d like to emulate.)
- What is it about the social media format that contributes to these feelings of dissatisfaction? (Accept all reasonable answers. In many advertisements, which social media posts sometimes are, the images shown only frame part of the story—the best or best-looking part. The nice things you see or read imply a satisfied person, but even the smiley-est of us have struggles, coming before or behind or alongside the joys.)
- When you feel dissatisfied or discontent, where do you turn to fill you up? (Answers will vary. Sometimes it is a purchase, food, a laugh, a good grade, or a word of validation we seek to satisfy us. We may turn to friends, family, achievements, or places we feel safe and known and appreciated and accomplished. Sadly, sometimes we get into bad habits in our search for satisfaction.)
Our search for satisfaction can become a vicious cycle. We don’t have what we want and it makes us feel empty. So we seek out something to make us feel full. Then we realize that didn’t fill us up either, and we feel empty again. Jesus once called Himself the Bread of Life, and that all who come to Him will never hunger again, implying He can satisfy our needs and break the cycle of fruitless seeking and empty feelings. Is that what He meant? Is that even possible? Let’s take a look…
Looking for Steps 2, 3 & 4?
You can find Steps 2 and 3 in your teacher’s guide. For upper elementary, middle school, and high school your Step 4 appears below. For adult, use the Step 4 in your teacher’s guide. To purchase a teacher’s guide, please visit: Bible-in-Life or Echoes.
We’ve talked a bit about the things we seek to make us happy or the content we consume which actually may cause unhappiness. In addition to these wants and desires, we also have real needs to be met. Our wants and needs do matter to God and He seeks to fulfill us and provide for us through the person of Jesus.
- What are some of the things you want or desire? (Answers will vary. These could be material things or deeper desires. Students may wish for a car, “better” hair, to make the team, to find a best friend, to become a chef, to be liked, to make a lot of money, to have a family, to make a difference, etc.)
- Do you believe Jesus can fulfill those desires? Why or why not. (Accept all reasonable answers. Students may acknowledge that God is not like a vending machine or a genie who grants wishes. However, they may also consider that some of our desires may align with His, or even come from Him. Some may suggest that God might meet the root of the desire but in a different way than expected.)
- What are some real needs all people have? (Accept all reasonable answers. We all need tangible things such as food, shelter, warmth, and aids to health. We also have a need for relationships, purpose, etc.)
- Do you believe Jesus can meet those needs? Why or why not? (Accept all reasonable answers. Some may figure that if Jesus can meet these needs, He would, and no one would be hungry or sad. Others may say that someday Jesus will make all things new so that no one is hungry or sad. Others may point to the possibility of miracles, or to our ability to be the hands and feet of Jesus and help meet these needs for others.)
Give each student a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. Have them list on one side the things they want (material things or deeper desires). Next to each want, challenge them to write down what is at that core of that desire. Do they want to fit in, have a purpose, feel loved, etc.? Encourage them to trust Jesus to fulfill. Perhaps He’ll do so in just the way they imagine, or perhaps He’ll do so in a surprising way.
On the flip side of the paper, have students list real needs other people may have. Encourage them to think about people and needs they actually know, or, lacking that, imagine what sort of needs there might be in your community. Challenge them to consider whether they could be the hands and feet of Jesus and meet some of these needs for people. Ask them to pray that God would provide miraculously, as He did with the loaves and fishes recognizing that the little boy gave all he had before he knew there was going to be a miracle. Encourage them to ask God frequently how they can be involved and then follow through.
Close in prayer.
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(For our upper elementary, middle school, and high school customers: David C Cook is not affiliated with and does not endorse any website or any other media listed on these pages. At the time of writing, David C Cook editors carefully review the referenced material and non-referenced web page content. However, due to the nature of the Internet, non-cited content on the website [including pop-ups, links, and ads] changes frequently and is beyond our control. Please review carefully before shoeing links in the classroom.)