Digital identity: A parenting series

News | January 14, 2016

Texting, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitch. The digital channels for kids (and adults) are many – the identity choices are, too.

A new St. Paul faith milestone event this year for sixth-graders and their parents, Digital Identity recently explored the responsibilities carried with each username and interaction.

A series of conversations for parents of kids of all ages will begin next week. No need to sign up, just come to the Luther Loft.

  • Video games and violent culture: Wednesday, Jan. 20, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
  • Sexual imagery: Monday, Feb. 1, 6-7 p.m.
  • Selfie culture and digital drama, Thursday, Feb. 11, 7-8 p.m.


“Your identity is already known and given to you by God,” said Andy Langdon, director of youth ministries. “But with teenagers, they are naturally trying out different identities. Teenagers are in the act of deciding which me they want to be, and social media gives them an endless playground to experiment with.”

During the recent milestone session – which will become an annual event for sixth-graders at St. Paul – Andy highlighted three concepts for creating a healthy digital identity.

Integrity: Be the same person in every situation, online and offline. There is a real temptation for any user of social media to not have high integrity (to say or do things that they would never do in person). Be your best self in all situations.

Transparency: Kids, act in a way that others can see what you are doing. If something is going on that you don’t want your parents to know or see, it probably shouldn’t be going on. Parents, your role with transparency is to be understanding, gracious, and forgiving, but always curious about your kids and what they are doing online.

Balance: Just like overeating is unhealthy, being overly attached to the social media in your world is, too. Be aware of your needs and wants, and make conscious decisions about what you need. Balance your time so that you can continue to enjoy the other people and activities in your life.

Parents and kids also discussed specific ways to stay true to God and oneself, and stay safe, online.

  • I will never give out personal information such as my last name, address, phone number, or photos without my family’s permission.
  • I will not share my passwords with anyone other than my family.
  • I will allow my parents to check into my media history whenever they think it is necessary.
  • I will not post anything online or share anything with my phone that might harm my reputation or the reputation of others.
  • I will only have online interactions with people I know in real life.
  • I will be mindful of how much time I spend in front of screens and I will continue to enjoy the other activities and people in my life.
  • I will not say anything online that I wouldn’t say in person, I will not bully, humiliate, or upset anyone and I will stand up to those who do.
  • I will always answer calls from my parents.
  • I will help my family set media time limits that make sense and then I will follow them.
  • I will tell my mom or dad right away if anything I see makes me uncomfortable or if anyone makes me feel pressure or acts inappropriately online.


“There is a lot of worry and fear when talking about kids going online,” Andy said. “There’s going to be some mistakes that are made, so kids and parents need support from other people. They are not alone in this.”

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Isaiah 53:4-12

4Surely our griefs He Himself bore,

And our sorrows He carried;

Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,

Smitten of God, and afflicted.

5But He was pierced through for our transgressions,

He was crushed for our iniquities;

The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,

And by His scourging we are healed.

6All of us like sheep have gone astray,

Each of us has turned to his own way;

But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all

To fall on Him.

7He was oppressed and He was afflicted,

Yet He did not open His mouth;

Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,

And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,

So He did not open His mouth.

8By oppression and judgment He was taken away;

And as for His generation, who considered

That He was cut off out of the land of the living

For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

9His grave was assigned with wicked men,

Yet He was with a rich man in His death,

Because He had done no violence,

Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10But the LORD was pleased

To crush Him, putting Him to grief;

If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,

He will see His offspring,

He will prolong His days,

And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

11As a result of the anguish of His soul,

He will see it and be satisfied;

By His knowledge the Righteous One,

My Servant, will justify the many,

As He will bear their iniquities.

12Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,

And He will divide the booty with the strong;

Because He poured out Himself to death,

And was numbered with the transgressors;

Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,

And interceded for the transgressors.

Psalm 91:9-16

9For you have made the LORD, my refuge,

Even the Most High, your dwelling place.

10No evil will befall you,

Nor will any plague come near your tent.

11For He will give His angels charge concerning you,

To guard you in all your ways.

12They will bear you up in their hands,

That you do not strike your foot against a stone.

13You will tread upon the lion and cobra,

The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.

14“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;

I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.

15“He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble;

I will rescue him and honor him.

16“With a long life I will satisfy him

And let him see My salvation.”

Hebrews 5:1-10

The Perfect High Priest

1For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins;2he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness;3and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself.4And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.

5So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him,



6just as He says also in another passage,



7In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.8Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.9And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,10being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Mark 10:35-45

35James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, *came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.”36And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”37They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.”38But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”39They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.40“But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

41Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John.42Calling them to Himself, Jesus *said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them.43“But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant;44and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.45“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Bartimaeus Receives His Sight