Most young people are sociable and, for many, web sites that provide social networking seem like the ideal place to connect. MySpace is extremely popular. However, many parents who have observed its content have concerns over pictures that have been posted, who their child might be communicating with, or the possibility of their child doing something immoral.
In response to sites that have a questionable environment, a number of social networking sites with Christian values have been established. Depending where the young person signs-up, there are plenty of things they can enjoy like profiles, photo rating, chat, mail, games, blogs, music, videos and more.
In this article I have listed 14 sites some parents would prefer their children to participate in. I am sure there are more sites, and I did eliminate four or five that, though they appeared to be good, I was just a bit uneasy mentioning.
“Christian” and Christian
Keep in mind the word “Christian” may just be only an eye-catching term used by some. Additionally, as a pastor I often point out there are true born-again Christians and there are some people Christian in name only.
However, the purpose of this article is help you decide where you would like your child, or even yourself, socializing on the Internet, and giving you a list to examine. Personally, I would look for the following elements:
- Statements in the site’s Terms of Service (TOS) that inappropriate content will not be tolerated. The stronger the warning, the better.
- There are minimum age requirements for participation. If some services, like chat rooms, are segregated by age, I would consider that a plus.
- Some portions of the site are not accessible unless one is registered and logged in.
- How much control over the site does the management claim to have
- The less emphasis upon the human body, the better.
Look and Pray
Examine as much of the site as you can, reading posts and evaluating images. Read the site’s statement of faith if there is one available. Above all, pray and ask God to guide you in making a selection.
Keep in mind that though some sites fully intend to make every effort to provide a safe socializing environment, management and users are human. Mistakes and oversights can still occur, and there will always be some users claiming to be something they are not. Parents should always monitor their children’s usage of any site.
The following list is provided for your evaluation and its presentation should not imply that I condone any site listed or agree with its doctrinal statement. Get ready to hear some Christian rock and contemporary music as you surf.
This site appears to be very conservative in Christian values. Participants are to be thirteen years of age or older. If a user posts a picture, all in the photograph must be modestly dressed, and that according to the management of BigBaptist. Though it is evidently controlled by Baptists, I get the warm impression non-Baptists are welcomed to participate.
ChristianBlog’s management states “We have dedicated volunteers who review each and every blog entry to make sure that all content that is posted is family safe and Christian based.” The site provides other services besides blogs. While there is a link that indicates it is free to join, its user agreements speak of fees, indicates one must be at least eighteen, and it “limits the ability to verify age by the usage of Credit Card payments at time of account setup.” The TOS speaks of $200 fines for spam and other infractions.
ChristUnion has a simple statement of beliefs. Users need to be thirteen or older. Users are cautioned to use the photo areas of the site at their own risk, but management states lewd content will be removed if they spot it or if someone reports it to them.
Those who use this site must agree not only to the conditions of use, but Ditty Talk’s statement of beliefs. MySpace users can sync their MySpace profiles and other items with Ditty Talk.
The management states the site is free from obscene pictures and language, using a network of filters and monitors. The say all profiles under eighteen are automatically private and there are extra precautions on accounts of those thirteen and under.
Some sites have a band or music industry membership option along with regular membership. FaithUp is one of those. A statement of faith is listed on their site.
Users are to be ten years of age or older. Management states the site is monitored 24/7 by staff. Though free at the time this article was written, JCFaith reserves its right to charge for services. The site’s “About Us” link did not load.
MyFaithPage is independently owned. Management states it will not allow any inappropriate or obscene pictures or material, and accounts that contain questionable material will be deleted. They state, “First and foremost, we are a Christian site.”
This site is owned by Brent and Tara Daugherty, who state they started it because, “We did not feel that other Social Networks were appropriate for children let alone ourselves.” The first 10,000 users to join will be entered into a contest to win an iPod or PS3.
MyIchthus describes itself a as a site for Christian teens and young adults, “where morals are still cherished and young minds are still safe.” Users must be at least thirteen years of age or older and must have a valid email address.
This site appears to place a great emphasis upon Christian music. It provides membership for bands. I could not locate a TOS or statement of faith.
When I reviewed Shoutlife I could not find any claim to being a Christian site. However, there was at least one news release on the Internet describing it as such. It does describe itself as focusing upon “being a safe and clean environment that is user-friendly, yet feature-rich.” I sensed a peace as I examined the site. Please see their “About Us” page to view those who manage Shoutlife.
Unless it is on its forum, YourChristianSpace lacks a statement of beliefs. It describes itself as a “community where people can come and find a safe-haven on the web.” Users under eighteen are encouraged to use the site’s chat services only under adult supervision.
Last, but not least, is Xianz, offering both regular and band memberships. It states its goal is “to provide an interesting, stimulating, and fun place for Christians and other Internet users,” and “attempts to create a safe and fun environment for all individuals, by taking measures to prevent and end offensive behavior.” However, it points out it cannot “and does not monitor chat rooms at all times, and makes no guarantee on your experience with this service.” Those under eighteen are encouraged to chat under adult supervision.
They also state, “While our sincere goal is to create a chat environment that is both comfortable and safe for Christian Internet users, we ask that you use Xianz.com Chat with wisdom and caution, and that you make use of available Xianz.com tools and information to respond to users, and report any violations of Terms of Conduct (TOC).”
Prayerfully using wisdom and caution with any social network is a good, godly rule of thumb. Participate only in a way Jesus Christ would participate.