When I was in high school, our options for social media were slim – AOL Instant Messenger and MySpace. No Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, or social gaming. Facebook was “invented” while I was still in college. During my ten years as a youth pastor, social media has launched, matured, and become a dominant medium by which teenagers communicate. I have been a consumer of these tools, including Facebook and Twitter. But I have also tried to step back and be an amateur cultural evaluator, seeking to comprehend social media’s impact, at least until a couple years ago. Gratefully, I recently had an insight-stirring conversation with my wife, Amy. She kindly asked, “If you are still investing in teenagers, why are you also not paying attention to their ‘media’ as much as you used to do?” Ouch!
I am glad for this question. Not because I want to fill my schedule with something else I need to do, but because I am committed to serving this digital generation. I am most interested in helping students figure out how to faithfully love and serve God, and discover how to find leverage, rather than be ruined, by our cultural influences.
What about you? Want to be a student with me in learning how to invest in this generation?
Here are some ideas:
- Check out the “Center for Parent Youth Understanding”, a “go-to” resource for understanding youth and media cultural influences.
- Sign up for CPYU’s e-update or Parent Page.
- Read a helpful article about “Dangerous Mobile Apps.” Then read a parent’s (Chad S) response below:
Since reading that article, my thought has been, “I can either put my time and energy into monitoring my kids’ tech life or into mentoring my kids’ soul life.” If kids want to be secretive and deceptive, then they will find a way. I think my time and energy will be better spent trying to give them a taste for the good, true, and beautiful, rather than police their lives and poke at all the bad or potentially bad things they could get into. I’d rather train them to be self-discerning, than blow a whistle each time something destructive crosses their path.