With teenagers today spending more time using all kinds of media (phone, television, computer, etc.) than interacting with parents and teachers (nine hours, according to a recent study by Common Sense Media), it makes sense to consider how we can limit this modern pastime.
However, while cutting back is essential, so is learning how to effectively engage these new tools for the good of families and kids. While we should be rightly concerned about things like sexting and illicit content, we cannot deny the power of tools like FaceTime and Skype, along with countless other online platforms, to do good.
Social media, and media in general, can be used to build faith and family ties. Here are some suggestions.
- FaceTime and/or Skype monthly with relatives and friends in another part of the country or the world. Building relationships and closeness between family members, in particular, are valued highly in Islam. These tech tools offer an excellent way to do that.
- Make an online movie about some aspect of Islam or being Muslim that interests you. You can use a phone or programs like iMovie to develop a high quality short film. If a film seems too daunting, even an advertisement for an upcoming event at your local Masjid, Islamic center, or youth group, is good. Humorous skits and tutorials (there are plenty about Hijab styling, for instance, on YouTube) also work well.
- Develop an Islamic-themed video game. Avoid violence and pick something light and humorous instead.
- Share an interest via Instagram. Whether it’s Islamic or mosque architecture, hip Hijab fashion, historic photos of the Muslim world, or Muslim sports celebrities, find and/or shoot your own pictures and share them with the world.
- Entertainment is huge among young people, and for Muslim youth, the challenge is finding the Halal alternatives. While there are far more English-language Muslim Nasheed artists and entertainers today than even a decade ago, young people can’t resist “Islamicizing” the lyrics of popular songs. Start a YouTube channel for this.
- Start a GoFundMe.com campaign for someone in need. You may have already seen this: A family in a community’s house burned down, or they lost a family member and they are now struggling financially. Supporters set up a GoFundMe page so they can quickly gather funds.
- Find a family community service event to participate in. Create the Good and Volunteer Match are just two examples of ways to do this online.
- Take an online Islamic class. Virtually every field is covered, from Fiqh and Tajweed to Aqeedah and Adab.
- Start a petition against an injustice or calling for positive social change of any kind at Change.org.
- Group text Duas to and for each other. Whether someone is ill or about to take the SAT, share concerns and prayers for family members and friends via text.
- Arrange for help for a sick relative or friend through a site like TaskRabbit.com for errands, or Peapod.com or Instacart.com for grocery delivery. This is especially useful when you don’t live in the same city and want to help.