“Hi, I’m Jiye!”
Jiye Kim is a chaplain, teacher, culture writer, and former social media addict. This places her in a unique position to understand, speak to and relate to teenagers about the current trends surrounding social media.
Jiye is currently teaching students who were born after she graduated high school. Jiye reflects, “How effective we are in the way we relate to teenagers has never been about how young we are, or how cool we are… It’s about communication that truly sees them as they are”.
What is Talking Teen?
Presbyterian Youth NSW (PYNSW) and Gospel Society & Culture (GSC) work together to host events called Talking Teen. Each Talking Teen is an online training webinar aimed at parents and youth leaders to equip them with biblical insights and practical skills to assist them in having tough and important conversations with the teenagers in their lives.
Jiye says it’s critical that the church equips people to consider the issues that weigh on our hearts. “We need to know the current climate, yes, but we also need to workshop practical ideas together. This may be regarding the language we use, or the strategies we implement in conversation with our teenagers,” she said.
The theme for the first Talking Teen in 2023 was social media. On the event Facebook page, they gave an overview of the event, “Join Talking Teen as we look at the reality of social media in the life of young people. We’ll look at some of the blessings of social media as well as the risks and give some practical ideas about how to help young people follow Jesus in this area of life. Along the way, we’ll see that there might be as much for us to learn from young people”.
At the 2023 Talking Teen event, Jiye was one of the speakers at the event along with Pastor Luke Pereira and Dr Nalini Pather, and Sarah Bell as MC.
Luke spoke on the Bible and social media, while Dr Nalini, a senior academic at the University of New South Wales, spoke on social media and the brain.
Samuel Choi, an Elder at St Ives Presbyterian Church shared that Talking Teen 2023 was “… informative, practical and wonderful to see Christians live out their faith in the space of social media”.
Jiye gave a brief look at the reality of social media and suggested healthier methods of use. She made three main points.
- We’re intended to be members of communities.
- How can we be part of safe and enjoyable communities online rather than becoming lonelier and more isolated as a result of it?
- We’re intended to mould each other in community.
- How do we keep loving and relational in online spaces where everything escalates so that people are either trash or idols?
- We’re intended to journey through God’s creation in community
- How do we discover, harness, and enjoy God’s creation rather than becoming lazy and anxious information collectors?
Being involved with your teens
Jiye spoke about the pressure to conform and curate the perfect social media presence. It is very easy to become all too focused on what is shared online and neglect the real-life friendships and relationships that we have.
One of the things Jiye expanded on was how to respond to the all-consuming world of social media as Christians, parents, and leaders of teenagers. She talked about actively engaging with teens about what they see on social media and getting involved with them both in trends and in the real world in their communities too, encouraging teens to be active participants rather than passive consumers.
“Prioritise actionable info and trends. Have them look for one way school or church is helping a need, and encourage them to actively contribute,” she said.
“If they’re scrolling through copious amounts of easy-to-make recipes on TikTok, or a whole heap of dance challenges done by influencers, encourage them to get involved. Ask if there’s anything they would be keen to try. Provide them with the resources needed for them to try it out. Join in, if they don’t think you’re too embarrassing. If they try a variety of what social media has to offer, it will be less about having that one perfect video to upload, and enjoying the challenge itself.”
Jiye’s top three tips
For parents and leaders, Jiye shared three tips about how to help teens organise their social media presence and consumption in a healthier way.
- Online space should first and foremost be an extension of our existing friendships.
- Use your social media accounts to engage with and encourage the friendships and relationships you have in real life.
- Relate more than we talk.
- Jiye suggests organising your social media accounts for different purposes to avoid getting stuck in ‘doom scrolling’, allowing you to relate to what you’re interested in, rather than watching people you don’t know from afar.
- Reconfigure your notifications and alerts.
- This could look like pausing notifications on school nights, turning on notifications from close friends only, or pausing notifications from apps that don’t hold personal significance.
Jiye shared, “As Christians, we have a real and inexhaustible hope of a perfect world with faithful, loving communities. As parents and leaders, we have the responsibility to foreshadow that hope in the present reality.”