Screen Time Discussion Guide - Week 2

CoreGroup Guide | Screen Time - Part 2

Written by Parker Patton and Denee Bowers

You can’t do a sermon series on Screen Time without talking about social media. “Doom scrolling” – spending too much time endlessly scrolling and focusing on the negative things you see on social media – has become an epidemic in our culture today. It’s so easy to get lost in a feed of entertaining videos, products you HAVE to buy, photos of peoples’ “perfect” lives, distressing news from around the globe, and on and on and on until you’ve completely lost track of time. The small dopamine hit of seeing new posts and staying up-to-date with the rest of the world keeps us coming back for more, even when we know it’s probably better to focus on something else.

Opening Prayer
@God - Thank you for this opportunity to connect with each other. In today’s nonstop digital culture, it is far too easy to lose focus and become distracted from the bigger picture. Help us to focus now as we reflect on social media and the ways in which we so often compare ourselves to others. Inspire great conversations and help us to listen to each other with compassion and love. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Ice Breaker
What was the first social media platform you used? Which ones do you currently use now, and how do you use them? (For example, lots of people now only use Facebook to keep in touch with relatives, use Pinterest just for recipes, etc.)

The Head
Two of the biggest pitfalls of social media are distraction and comparison. It’s easy to lose focus when you’re constantly bombarded with different perspectives, highly-curated posts, and targeted advertising. These two scriptures are helpful as we think about the ways social media can impact our lives and the lives of those around us:

Hebrews 12:1-2 (CEB)
“So then, with endurance, let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne.”

  • Despite being surrounded by distractions and “a great cloud of witnesses” on social platforms, what does it mean to stay focused on the bigger picture?
  • What might it look like to “throw off any extra baggage” when it comes to social media?
  • How can the ideas in this scripture help us consider which social media platforms to use, who to follow, and when to post?
  • Since Jesus is the “pioneer and perfecter” of our faith, what are some practical ways we can model ourselves after Jesus when it comes to social media? 
  • In what ways can social media serve as a tool for encouraging and uplifting others?

Philippians 4:11-13 (CEB)
“I’m not saying this because I need anything, for I have learned how to be content in any circumstance. I know the experience of being in need and of having more than enough; I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance, whether full or hungry or whether having plenty or being poor. I can endure all these things through the power of the one who gives me strength.”

  • What do you think it looks like to be “content in any circumstance?”
  • Remember that while Paul is writing this, he has a unique perspective: He is currently in prison! What perspective can we hold onto in order to not get swept up into the materialistic and consumerist culture so prevalent on social media?
  • In some ways, social media might sometimes feel like being imprisoned – we are at the mercy of the algorithms, feeling like we have to check our phone all the time so we don’t miss something, trying to get more likes/comments on our posts, etc. Paul says he remains content in his situation through “the power of the one who gives me strength.” What does this look like for us today?
  • Social media algorithms tend to promote drama, negativity, and sad/scary news stories. What are some practical ways to know when to engage vs. when to take a step back?

The Heart
Thinking back to last week, remember the idea of dualistic or black and white thinking, where we may think something is either entirely good or entirely bad with no in between. Given the prevalence of distractions, comparisons, negativity, and materialistic vanity on social media, many tend to write off social platforms as an entirely bad thing. However we have also all heard stories about positive ways social media has impacted lives – old friends and family members connecting after time and distance drove them apart, charity campaigns raising donations that have saved lives, heartwarming stories about stray animals being taken in and given loving homes, quotes or reading suggestions to help deepen and strengthen our faith. Some of us may have even first discovered The Gathering through a social media post shared by a friend!

  • How do you feel about social media as a whole? Do you tend to see it as more of a good thing, a bad thing, or something in between?
  • What are some ways that social media has had a positive impact on your life? On the flip side, what are some ways that social media has had a negative impact?

Everyone’s experience and history with using social media platforms is a bit different, but it’s good to reflect and share our insights as we try to find a balance between the extremes of social media. Think about the ways you have personally used social media, as well as the ways you see friends and family members choosing to use these platforms.

  • Many people say that despite being constantly connected to others via social media, they still experience a sense of loneliness and isolation. How does your connection with others through social media affect your mood and relationships?
  • Consider a time when your social media habits may not have been very healthy. What were some signs that led you to realize something needed to change? 
  • What changes did you make, and what was the impact?

The Hands
This week, spend some time prayerfully examining your social media habits – who you follow, how much time you spend scrolling, what you engage with, and what platforms you use.

  • How do you choose who to follow or add as a friend on social media? Go through the list of people you follow and ask yourself what impact they have on your heart, your well-being, and your relationship with God and others.
  • If you find yourself spending way too much time on social media, how can you encourage yourself to set healthy limits? Try using Android’s Digital Wellbeing app, Apple’s Screen Time app, or any number of other apps to set timers that will remind you when you’ve spent too much time looking at social media.
  • When you see a post on your feed that annoys you or tempts you to engage in a debate in the comments, how do you react? This week as you scroll through your feed, consider unfollowing or muting any users or posts that bring unnecessary negativity or drama into your life. Before commenting, ask yourself if your voice is truly necessary in the conversation or will make any positive change.
  • Are there any social platforms you feel may not be contributing to your life in a positive way? If so, consider uninstalling the app for this week. If the temptation is too strong to redownload, have someone you trust change your password so you can’t log back in.

Closing Prayer
@God - Thank you again for this group and for all the different perspectives shared. We thank you for the ways you have used social media as a tool to bring goodness into the world. That being said, we also ask that you please help us to identify the ways social media has been misused, and help us to practice healthy habits when engaging with these platforms. As we go about our lives this week, prompt us to think about where our focus truly lies in our busy culture. Help us to notice when we get distracted by the wrong things, or find ourselves comparing our lives to others. Be with us this week and bring us closer to your heart. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Additional Resources
If you struggle with spending too much time scrolling, has curated a great list of apps to use to help regulate screen time:

From Pastor Charity
Coming Soon! This summer we are starting Summer Hangs, which are a fun way for you to participate in creating the community we each desire. Summer Hangs are activity-based social hang outs around interest and/or location. They can be one-time or recurring and are available in June and July.  Summer Hangs can be anything from bike riding to service projects to fire pits to potluck etc. You get to create and host them! Stay tuned for more information coming soon.

Host a Summer Hang

No Comments