Friday, December 9, 2011

Teens and Technology

Research shows that teens continue to increase their use of technology. Smartphones give access to the internet and, of course, texting. With available apps and software, iTouch, and tablets are phones. However, there is heartening news. Cyberbullying isn't completely widespread, as the research from Pew below shows and there are those who will challenge the bullier. This research also reveals that teens, especially older teens have a greater awareness of privacy issues and exercise caution in what they post and do use privacy controls in social media. Teens look to parents for guidance and a considerable number of parents are engaged, monitoring, and giving sound counsel on the use of social media and the internet. However, considering the large number of teens who do not exercise caution in their postings, who share passwords and the number who lie about their age in order to have access to social media, there is cause for concern. Moreover, there remains a sizable number of unengaged parents.

Teens, kindness and cruelty on social network sites: Pew Internet Research

Below, is an infographic that gives the findings from the Pew research noted and lined above in one view. Yes, there is cruelty, but it is not as widespread as the title below suggests. Nevertheless, it is a good way of accessing the Pew data using a different lens.

Teens' cruel world of social networking [infographic] - Holy Kaw!
Teens' cruel world of social networking [infographic]. Posted Dec 8th, 2011 at 4:44 PM and seen. times. Tweet. (Click on the infographic below to learn more.) Via Column Five for ZoneAlarm. Like infographics? So do we. ...

While we're all happy to know that sexting is not as widespread as we would have been led to believe, 10 percent is still a significant number and should not be dismissed. Fortunately, not many of these images go viral. However, the impact on the victim in the few cases when they do is not to be underestimated. So we're thankful, but still concerned and needing to be proactive.

1 in 100 Teens Involved in Sexting | Psych Central News
Although teen sexting is a subject of controversy, new research suggests concern about the practice may be overblown. New studies from the University of New.

One cyber cop certainly sees the need for proactive engagement, wise counsel, control, and monitoring. He warns against "digital tunnels" because teens know how to and do embed content that is not appropriate in ways that would make it very difficult for parents and other adults to find, even when they are monitoring teens' use of the internet. He further gives advice on how parents could get their children to disconnect.

Cyber cop warns of secret teen world | vuong, teens, computer ...
Home: Cyber cop warns of secret teen world | vuong, teens, computer, parents, phone, digital, kids, fight, internet, technology.

I would suggest that we can do some of these and other things in our youth ministry, using Matthew 5:13-16 and Matthew 7:12 as our framework:
  • Applaud youth when they use technology appropriately and wisely.
  • Encourage youth to be thoughtful and respectful of themselves and others in how they use technology.
  • Give practical advise and examples of safe and unsafe, respectful and disrespectful online and texting practices.
  • Have youth identify ways of glorifying God in their online and texting presence.
  • Have youth disconnect at appropriate times and find meaning and fulfillment outside of technology.
What other Scriptures and ideas can you think of? What would you add?
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

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