Monday, February 27, 2012

More Than an Object

The teen years are influenced by the opinion of others, especially peers. Am I adequate? Am I worthy? Am I pretty enough, cool enough, and the list goes on. These days, teens have the wherewithal to seek to measure up in material terms. Brands and marketers tap into this insecurity and the spending power of teens. They offer them beauty and cool, etc. Thus, from pretty early teens receive and often buy into a message that adequacy and worth are material. Of course it starts before the teen years, but these years are our focus here.

This article below outlines this situation clearly:

Teens have more savvy and cash, and Portland-area malls are ...
Stores and shopping centers begin to cater seriously to young folks, who have become some of their most dependable and valuable customers.

When self-worth and material value become inextricably linked, teens pay a high price. Financial literary among teens is low as seen in the blog below, which gives its own views on the reason for this low level:

Teens and Money
The last 10 to 15 years have seen unprecedented numbers of Americans doing wacky things with their money, and paying big time for their mistakes. About.

As Christians, we know we have intrinsic value and are of inestimable worth to God. Just take a look at Jesus Christ coming.

In this season of Lent, how do we help our students to break the link between self-worth and material value?
What Scripture texts and lessons are you using as you do this?
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Friday, February 24, 2012

What Language Do You Use?

This is a very interesting presentation from Pew Research Center's Internet& American Life Project on, "Speaking the Language of the Next Generation." It is comprehensive as it compares generations and age groups along race and ethnicity, educational level and by gender, location, religious lives, values, use of technology, etc. lt looks at the role of social media among the next generation as well as their greater openness and acceptance, comfort with and even need for ambiguity. By the end of this presentation, we have a very good idea of how GenXers and the Millenials are distinctive and how we can use media to communicate with them.

Take a look and see. This was prepared for an audience that uses media for religious purposes:
  1. How much of what you already knew does this confirm?
  2. What is new?
  3. What do you take away from this that can help to inform how you do ministry with your students?
  4. How does this help you to better communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Monday, February 20, 2012

Creating Teens

Sometimes we forget the power of creative expression. Yes, creativity is all around us; so much so that we can take it for granted. The CRC health group has posted the results of a survey that tells us how much teens are creating online. They are quite prolific.
Teens Creating Online Content In Record Numbers | CRC Health ...
A recent survey suggests that content creation by teenagers is growing by leaps and bounds, with 64% of online teenagers age 12 to 17 engaging in at least one type of online content creation.

At the same time, this unprecedented and easy means of creating and sharing creations can have sad overtones. Do you know these young ladies or people like them? What sends young girls to these lengths?

Tragic Trend: Teens Ask YouTube Commenters If They're Ugly
I thought Formspring was bad, but this disturbing new trend of YouTube videos in which young women (and a few men) ask YouTube commenters whether they're ugly or not might be even worse.

Maybe the backgrounds of the teens in the videos in the post above are different from those in the post below, but are they any less at risk? The difference between the two posts is that whereas above the teenage girls are speaking to an anonymous audience, many of whom will be callous and uncaring in their response, in the post below there are caring adults present. These adults are mentors who will be helping teenage girls to write for empowerment.

At-risk teens to write their way to confidence
The diverse group is composed of teens overcoming harrowing hurdles as well as girls seeking an opportunity for self-empowerment and mentorship. The Write of Your Life is a 10-week writing and mentorship program ...

And here's another form of expression that empowers - slam poetry. Take the time to listen to the poignant poem at the top of the page.

'Louder Than a Bomb' returns, bringing teens' feelings in poetic form ...
Chicago can proudly boast its reputation as the city that made poetry cool for teenagers -- slam poetry, at least. Competitive, raw, and onstage, it's a medium that has helped thousands of teenagers channel their budding ...

Given these insights:

  • How do we channel the creative impulse and creativity so that it becomes a move toward wholeness? The Psalms are replete with examples. How are we using these?
  • How are we availing ourselves of the windows our students give into their lives through their online creations as we invite them into a deeper faith in Christ?
  • Where are the adult mentors in our youth and student ministries who will make time for creativity and empowerment?
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Mixed Bag

Image: imagerymajestic /
I guess the following post caught my eye because it always amazes me how much negative stuff is posted about teens. "Why do we assume the worst about teens?" challenges us to examine our instinctive perceptions of and reactions to teenagers and be mature and responsible in our interactions with them.

Why do we assume the worst about teens? |
Before we even have a teen living in our house, we hear the parenting tales from older friends or the horror stories on the news. We begin to assume that teens are wreaking havoc on society — drinking, driving, and texting ...

The other aspect of it, is that adults often set poor examples for teens as well as seek to exploit teens. Below is a prime example of this. It also reminds us of why we need to continually remind teens (and adults) to use caution in the online world.

Porn Site Caught Using Teens' Facebook Photos | WebProNews
Porn Site Caught Using Teens' Facebook Photos. Seventeen girls, some as young as fourteen involved. By Josh Wolford · 19 hours ago · 2 Comments. Girls at a Boston area Vocational High School are a little more than upset ...

Although some things are beyond anyone's control, exercising caution and oversight still matters. Adults, in being mature and responsible, will help teens to be aware of the potential pitfalls in online, including social media usage. They will also help teens to avoid linear uses of the internet and social media that may be harmful in other ways. The next post reminds us that different teens have different needs, interact with media differently and need different types of nudges and guidance.

Teens with Autism Choose Television,Video Games over Social ...
A recent study has shown that teens with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are far more likely to spend their screen time in a non-interactive way. Socially interactive media, such as email and chat clients will often be ...

However, at the end of the day, we need to remember the tremendous potential of the internet and social media for learning and for good. We see this here:

Social Media Makes Teens Aware Of Others' Needs, Study Says
Here's something worth liking: Social media usage makes teens more aware of others' needs. About 55 percent of teens ages 13 to 17 said Facebook and Twitter have opened their eyes to what others are experiencing, ...

It is a mixed bag, I confess. The questions for us are:
  • How would we assess our attitudes toward and expectations of youth? This influences how we interact with them.
  • What type of guidance do we give to our students with respect to internet use and social media? 
  • Is our guidance one size fits all or do we recognize different types and needs? Which is linked to, how well do we know the students with whom God has entrusted us?
  • In our ministries, how are we harnessing the tremendous potential of the internet and social media for learning and for good?
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future