In Search of YouTube Moderation (1/6)

I sometimes have the privilege to speak for my church’s Friday night college group. On one such occasion, I had arrived to church early to look over my notes and spend some time in prayer. When I arrived, however, I noticed a student outside the meeting room who looked visibly troubled.

I asked her if everything was ok, and with some hesitance, she shared the reason for her distress: she felt her YouTube usage was out of control. Instead of intentionally choosing to use the app, she would compulsively watch videos to the detriment of her other responsibilities. I was taken aback. It’s rare to see someone be so hard on themselves for self-control struggles with YouTube (or other social media, technology, etc.).

Most of us talk about our technology usage casually, even jokingly. We might share about an unproductive Netflix binge or halfheartedly ask for prayer for better time management. But we do so with a sheepish grin and without much of a plan or sense of urgency to change. Inwardly, we think: “Hey, what can you do? This is just the technological world we live in. And ultimately, it’s not that big of a deal, right?

I’ve certainly been guilty of this kind of cavalier attitude. At the same time, I understood her concern. I know the feeling all too well of feeling controlled by my YouTube usage, rather than the other way around.

I think the student was on to something. We should take our YouTube habits seriously for at least two reasons.

#1: Time

We have a variety of sin struggles, many of which we’d deem as more “serious” than our bad technology habits. But few of these sins have the power to drain away our time like our screens. Time is a precious commodity that God has given to us to steward. Frittering away hours on a daily basis prevents us from doing the far greater work that God has called us to do, which is no small matter.

#2: Mastery and Idolatry

There is certainly the Christian freedom to watch YouTube. Still, Paul exhorts us not to be mastered by anything (1 Cor 6:12). What’s more, we are to find our rest and refreshment in Christ. He is to be our our deepest joy, our truest satisfaction, and where we turn in times of trouble. If we’re not careful, YouTube can fill that void and become what we run to for comfort when we feel stressed, bored, or frustrated.

Goal of This Series

Given its temptations and downsides, should we be stop using YouTube altogether? I would say that option should at the very least be considered (and perhaps practiced from time to time in some form of digital fast). However, that will not be the focus of this upcoming series of articles.

This series is meant for those who find genuine enjoyment and benefits from YouTube, but want to use the platform in moderation. I’ve found that moderation with YouTube (and other social media apps) is much trickier than cutting it off completely, and requires more careful consideration.

In the upcoming articles, we’ll take a look at:

  1. What makes YouTube so addictive?
  2. Some strategies for YouTube moderation

Hopefully by zeroing in on YouTube in particular, I can be more specific than resources that talk more generally about our technological lives. Still, I think these posts should be applicable to other types of social media and entertainment.

To that student and others like her: I hope and pray this series can be a blessing to you!

Until next time!

All posts in the YouTube Moderation series:

  1. In Search of YouTube Moderation
  2. Fighting the Pull of Infinity Pools
  3. The YouTube Moderation Toolbox, Part I
  4. The YouTube Moderation Toolbox, Part II
  5. The Value of Tactics and Toolboxes
  6. Moving Forward with Moderation

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