Creative Commons

Churches urged to bring their 'social identity' to toxic online platforms

Fri 30 Aug 2019
By Heather Preston

Churches across the country are being encouraged to have an online presence to promote positive social spaces for the public.

It comes after research from The Royal Society for Public Health revealed how social media makes people feel.

The study showed content that triggers negative memories, the fear of missing out and pressures from celebrities and influencers were among the most toxic.

People ranked memes, access to learning resources, and understanding diverse cultures as among the most meaningful.

 

 

The Scroll Free September campaign is encouraging the public to take a break from their social media accounts for the month of September in a bid to build more healthy relationships with online platforms.

Rev Dr Peter Phillips is the Director of CODEC Research Centre for Digital Theology of St John's College.

Speaking to Premier News Hour he stressed the importance of maintaining a healthy balance when it comes to life online:

"This ‘always on’ society means that we're always under social pressure and if some of that goes wrong with people being nasty then that can have a backwash into your social life.

"Completely coming off social media could be detrimental to your social life as well because that's where you may meet people. That's where, if you’re house bound, you may connect with people and so we don't want to increase people's anxiety by them going completely cold turkey, it's about getting a balance."

Rev Phillips went on to say that although limiting screen time can be a positive thing for our relationships, digital technology also provides the Church with a great opportunity to serve their communities.

"Loneliness is one of the big issues that we have in our present society and I wonder whether we can actually encourage people to build community more through social media," he said.

"The Church used to be the centre of the social community, our villages and so on, and we've lost that to the pubs and clubs, but perhaps that's coming back.

"Perhaps we need to be more aware of the church as a social identity and Instagram and Facebook are great places to build community."

 

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