Earlier this year, a Dutch study revealed a rather interesting fact about Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000, in this particular study): they are nearly twice as likely to enjoy being the center of attention when compared to the two prior generations. While a relatively small 25% of Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers generally want to be noticed and enjoy attention, almost half of all Millennials said they like being the focus of other people’s attention.[1]
Generally speaking, that’s what most would call narcissism. Driven by Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blogs, and whatever other outlet encourages the young to broadcast every detail of their lives to anyone and everyone who will listen, this trend is one that will only increase with every new, more-digitalized generation. Sadly, in many cases this makes for unhappy people whose real lives only function to provide material for their glamorized online personalities. It’s no coincidence that the same study revealed this generation to be more competitive than our predecessors. Because we have a constant connection that allows us to see what’s going on in the lives of people around us, we see ourselves as successes or failures only through those lenses.
Though social media is the accomplice, it’s not always the cause. Too often parents want to simply keep their children at bay for 18 years before getting them out of the house, rather than developing them into kind-hearted people who think of others first. When parents turn to iPads, video games, or television to get them through the latest temper tantrum, they teach that their children need to merely act out and get attention to get the things they want. As children grow older this instinct only grows sharper and more developed, leading them to find new ways to get attention.
There is a desperate need in our culture for Christian families to break this mold and lead the way back to a biblical understanding of children and how they grow into adults. Preachers, elders, teachers – help teach parents that the goal in the Christian home must be God’s approval like that which was given the man described in Psalm 1 rather than the attention and envy of their peers. Parents, teach your children that the world doesn’t revolve around them. When they’re little they must realize that they can’t always get their way, and no amount of acting out or protesting for attention will help them. As they grow older, monitor the way they use social tools like Facebook or Instagram and help them develop an outward focus that shows a love for God and the world around them. God did not create people to compete for the spotlight, He created us that we would reflect His light to others.
cf. Romans 12:3, Philippians 2:3-4
By Jack Wilkie

[1] – Beth Stebner, “Millennials are most competitive, most attention-craving generation, study says,” NY Daily News, http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/millennials-competitive-crave-attention-study-article-1.1811762, 30 May 2014.