Students give up online socializing for Lent

Filed under: Teens, Day Care & Education, Gadgets, That's Entertainment

Lent, the 40 day period preceding Easter, is a time when many Christians give up something they enjoy as a way to show religious devotion. As Easter Sunday approaches, many are looking forward to returning to whatever it is they gave up. For many young people, that means getting back to MySpace, Facebook and other social networking sites.

16-year-old Emily Montgomery says she usually visits MySpace at least four times a day, spending a total of two hours socializing with her peers. "Some of my friends think it's silly, since people usually give up food," she says, "I wanted to give up something that's really hard for me." She didn't give up her online social life completely; during Lent she has been has been using Facebook instead.

Giving up this online socializing may have a positive longer term effect for some. Graduate student Kerry Graham, who gave up Facebook for Lent, says staying away has helped her to identify her real friends and those who are merely convenient. She has been spending more time playing tennis and doing schoolwork. Jocelyn Chiu, a sophomore at Emory University, gave up the Internet altogether and says that by reclaiming the hours she had been spending online, she realized that she had been leaving her spiritual life behind. It's a nice change," said Chiu. "The human interaction is so much more personal than anything you could have on the Internet."

If giving up social networking for Lent doesn't seem like a genuine sacrifice to you, then you probably don't have a MySpace page. Even if you don't observe Lent, you can't argue with the benefit of young people spending a little time in the real world for a change.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.