Where do kids today get away from all the noise?

Teens today live in a digital world.  I remember when we were just talking about how they could live in a digital world, but today we are all living in a digital world.  Whether we like it or not we are.  We are fully submersed in a social media.  It we didn’t have it for a few days we might even go through withdrawals.

As youth workers we need to help students navigate through the social media world they live in.  It’s a world where people can and will say whatever they wan’t without the consequences.  Teenagers today are less afraid of the ramifications of actions played out online.  They are almost free to do as they want.

A few years ago, I had a student who was leading worship at my church.  He was a great guy.  He was committed, was great at playing the guitar, and had a stellar voice.  What could go wrong?  This guy was the real deal.

A few hours before youth group I get a crazy text message.  He is completely freaking out.  This teen is swearing his head off at me for something.  I remember getting the text message and immediately thinking to myself, who talks like this?.   I never responded to the text message.  I called him back.  He never picked up the phone, so I called until he picked up.  It took over 15 attempts.  I will never forget the first thing he said when I finally heard his voice.  He said, “I am so sorry, it’s been a really rough  day.”  He is only having a tough day.  It made me think about what he says to people online when he is really angry at them.  What about Jesus when he says we should love our enemies?

Teens live in a completely different world.  And it will continue to change.  Here is an infographic called: Teens’ cruel world of social networking.  One thing stands out to me from this infographic.

It’s the word unkind.  20% of all teens online are mostly unkind.  26% of all girls are mostly unkind.  We need to be apart of the change.  The way we treat people matters.  It matters in real life and online.  For some reason teenagers thing that they can treat peers awful online and no one cares about it.  Well we do.

Here is what we can do:

Educate Parents.  60% of teens say their parents have the most influence on their online behaviour.  Here is the problem.  The parents I know, or work with don’t know or believe there is a problem.  There is no way my kid would do that, or look at those things.  Well, they probably are.  What are you going to do about it?

We are working on a social media contract for students (you can check it out here).  I think this is a great resource for youth pastors and parents.  I hope this helps start the conversation about how we should live as Chrsitians in a digital world.  Parents are the key when it comes to influence in a kids life.  We need to partner with them to develop strategies for students to live out their faith in a digital world.

This won’t be easy, and it will be messy, but we are willing to walk parents and students through this digital world.


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