Have You Heard about Offline October

photo credit: Go-tea 郭天 Live from the streets via photopin (license)

So, have you heard about Offline October? Today was the first I heard about it.

Knowing that teens spend an average of 9 hours a day on their phones, they check their phones 157 times a day, send out more than 208 Snapchats, spend nearly an hour on Instagram, a movement has started to unplug. I don’t know much about the movement other than hearing the news story and visiting the website, but it seems like a good idea.

According to the website, after a number of teen suicides in the Littleton, Colorado community, a group of 25 students got together to come up with a solution to state that enough was enough. The challenge is meant for people to realize the importance of human relationships and the happiness that can come from direct human interaction. The goal of the movement is this: Don’t Post A Story, Live One.

If you are a parent this would be a good conversation to have with your student. What would it be like to go offline for the month of October, or even a week in October, or even 24 hours? Perhaps you could ask your student what kind of influence social media has had on their peers or even him/her. It’s an interesting challenge to consider and talk about.

There are resources and ideas for taking the challenge on the Offline October website.

Below is one of their promo videos.

Interesting Info on Gen Z

photo credit: AdamCohn Sharing a Mobile Phone via photopin (license)

This week I’ve read a few interesting things about Gen Z.

Generation Z is made up of those who were born 1999 to 2015; they are today’s preteens and teenagers.

A lot has been written about Millenials (born 1984 to 1998) as they are the largest generation in the US workforce (35% of today’s labor force).

There were two different sources for the information and they give two different snapshots of this generation.  The first is a podcast by Pro Church Tools, which focused on how Gen Z interacts with through social media.  The second source is the Barna Group, which has done some research on the beliefs of Gen Z.

Pro Church Tools talked about how Gen Z uses social media differently than previous generations.  The main distinction they made was that  Gen Z uses social media for one to one interactionswhere previous generations use social media for one to many interactions.

So, where previous generations will post something to Facebook for everyone to see (and to generate more friends), Gen Z will use Messaging Apps, including Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Instagram DMs, along with others.

After I heard the podcast, I sent a message to over a dozen of the high school students in our student ministry.  I asked which Messaging App they used most frequently.  In the quick survey I took, Snapchat seemed to be the most used, along with Instagram and texting.  How Gen Z communicates is a little different from other generations and it is helpful to know if we want to communicate effectively.

The Barna Group study focused on what Gen Z believes.  While there were a number of stats shared, these two were highlighted:

  • 24% of Gen Z strongly agrees that what is morally right and wrong changes over time based on society
  • 21% of Gen Z strongly believes sex before marriage is wrong – though they are mostly on par with other generations, with Gen X being the most conservative (26%)

While there is much more in the Barna study, I think those stats give an interesting look into Gen Z.  The fact that nearly one-quarter of the generation thinks that what is right and wrong changes based on society should create some interesting conversations.  If right and wrong is a sliding scale, it could have some pretty unique implications.

While I think we need to be careful not to stereotype people based on their age and not everyone who was born in a certain generation reflects those characteristics, it is good to have a sense of where our students are.

Barna does note that they only included teens 13 to 18 in their study.

Click on the links above to read all the information that Pro Church Tools and Barna provide.  If you work with students or are a parent of Gen Z, it is helpful information to have.

Teens Talk Social Media – Part 2

Last week I posted some information about a recent Common Sense Media report where teens shared how much time they spend on social media and their phones.  A few days ago, the TODAY show did a special series sharing the same information.

TODAY interviewed a family with three teenagers and talked to them about their social media habits.  They also talked to the mother and got her thoughts on how she managed her children’s time on their devices.

The students featured were then challenged to go 48 hours without their smartphones and without using social media.  They took the challenge and then share about their experiences.  They used words like “disconnected” and “distractions,” but also seemed grateful for time away from the devices.

The news piece is just over five minutes long and is pretty interesting in light of the Common Sense Media study.  You can watch it on the TODAY Show site.

Teens Talk Social Media

Common Sense Media just released a report on teens and how they use social media. They asked more than 1,100 teenagers (13- to 17-year-olds) to find out their thoughts and how they use social media. Here are a few highlights:

  • 89% of teens have a smartphone
  • Snapchat is their main social media site
  • 57% of all teens agree that social media distracts them when they should be doing homework
  • 29% of teen smartphone owners say they have been woken up by their phones during the night
  • 70% teens use social media multiple times a day (up from 34% in 2012)

There is more interesting information about how teens not only use social media, but some of their perceptions as well.  For example, 72% of teens think technology companies manipulate users to spend more time on their devices.  And, many admit that social media can be a distraction.

Common Sense Media also has a link for parents with some thoughts and suggestions on addressing the social media issue.  Some pretty common sense stuff that many parents are already utilizing, but helpful nonetheless.

There is no doubt that smartphones, technology and social media have impacted our culture and how we communicate.  This article provides some good talking points for parents and teens.

 

More Dangerous: Shark Attacks or Selfies?

Several months ago, I shared an infographic talking about our selfie obsession.  It shared some of the following statistics:

  • 74 percent of all images shared on Snapchat are selfies.
  • 1,000 selfies are posted to Instagram every 10 seconds.
  • There are 93 million selfies each day, which would represent 2,583,333 rolls of film.
  • 19 out of 20 teens have taken selfies

I don’t think any of that is surprising to anyone who frequents social media.  For whatever reason, I forgot this stat:

More people died from taking selfies in 2015 than from shark attacks.

Of course, I had to look it up.  Here’s what USA Today reports about it:  in 2015, 12 people died while attempting to take a selfie; 8 people died from a shark attack.

Here’s how some people died:

  • a man fell down a staircase at the Taj Mahal’s Royal Gate
  • a couple fell of a cliff trying to capture a picture
  • a man shot himself while posing for a selfie

Another website tells us that 49 people have died from selfies since 2014.  How crazy is that?

I started looking at this as I was preparing for our small groups this week.  We are talking about how excited we are to share the good news with others.  As followers of Jesus, we should be energized when it comes to sharing what we know about Him with others.  We love to share selfies and social media posts with others.  We get excited when our favorite team wins.  We rave about the latest movie we watched. But do we (or better yet, do I) look for opportunities to share about news that is both really good and that really matters?

Good question for us to think about.

Social Media Tips for Parents

I receive a regular email from a youth ministry organization called YouthSpecialties.  They offer training, resources and events for those in youth ministry.  This week’s email contained a helpful video of an interview with Jakob Eckeberger, a volunteer youth worker and an employee of YouthSpecialties who is involved in the social media side of things.

Eckeberger offers some tips and insights to parents about social media.  He makes some good observations, especially regarding the growth of technology and the fact that we live in a word with no technological boundaries.  He makes a comment that phones used to be stuck to the wall and TV’s were huge boxes that sat in our living rooms. Now, it is everywhere.

I thought this was a beneficial resource for parents and wanted to pass it along.  You can see all the original content on the YouthSpecialties Blog.

Here’s the actual interview and below the video is the breakdown that YS provided.

3 THINGS THAT INFLUENCE HOW KIDS USE SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY:

1. We live in a world with no technological boundaries.

In my generation, we grew up with some really firm boundaries on our technology. Phones had cords that plugged into walls. The internet was only available through dial-up. Big box televisions were the only way to watch TV shows. Those literal boundaries around our technology helped us come to understand who we were outside of it. Today, there are zero boundaries to our technology. This constant, 24/7 access to technology leaves a huge impact on our kids, inviting things like social media to become an important part of their personal, mental, and sociological development.

2. Social media becomes a window through which we see and experience the world around us.

This means that apps like Instagram aren’t merely used to post pictures. Instagram becomes a window through which we answer important questions like: Who am I? Where do I fit in? Does my life matter?

We aren’t just consuming answers to those questions through the images we see on Instagram, we’re actually creating our responses. We create images to tell stories of our daily life and then compare it to what everyone else is creating. This is a significant thing for kids who are just starting to figure out who there are and where/if they fit in.

3. The fallacy that everything on line is temporary.

Darrel Girardier shared a GREAT POST that touched on this. Apps like Snapchat tap into this idea that content on the internet can be easily deleted. But we know from experience (SNAPCHAT LEAKS 100,000 PHOTOS) that it’s not always the case. Once we post something, we have very little control over what happens to it.

3 THINGS THAT PARENTS CAN DO:

1. Recognize that the issue isn’t the technology, but how that technology is used.

Most of the technology available to our kids today, and specifically things like social media, aren’t necessarily evil. It’s all in how the technology is used. When we give our kids a smart phone, we’re giving them technology that comes with a ton of responsibility. We can’t protect our kids from all the bad ways that this technology can be used, but we can help them live into the incredible amount of responsibility that they’ve been given. To borrow from Walt Mueller, it’s all apart of helping students think critically and Christianly about what they post before they post it.

2. Create boundaries around technology.

Sit down as a family to create blackout times and locations in your house where every screen is turned off, and the phones and tablets are put away. Have family game nights, or dinner times when you intentionally connect with one another. Buy an old-fashioned alarm clock to have in your room so that you don’t need your phone at night.

3. Be the example.

Ideally, parents would be modeling healthy uses of technology for their kids. So set boundaries that your entire family can agree on. That way, as a parent, you can be the first one to step away from your phone or tablet. By being the example, you can show what a healthy relationship with technology looks like.

The YS Idea Labs are filmed on location at the National Youth Workers Convention. Check out more YS Idea Labs HEREand register early for NYWC to save BIG: NYWC.COM.

Teens Still On Facebook

facebookThere have been different voices talking about what social media outlets teens are using. For the last year or so many people have been saying that teens are moving away from Facebook. With the growth of Instagram, SnapChat and other outlets, the fairly common opinion was that students were abandoning Facebook.

As someone who works with students, I’m always looking for ways to communicate with students and I go back and forth between social media outlets. Most times, I use both Facebook and Instagram along with a group texting service.

A recent article from the Pew Research Center shows that teens chose Facebook most often out of the social media options. From a survey of teens ages 13-17, it shows that 41% of teens use Facebook most often. While they are using other social media utilities, it’s interesting to me that Facebook leads the way.

Social media continues to change.  I wonder what will be popular when my almost 2 year old reaches the teen years.  Right now, Facebook seems to be on top for teens.

facebook-instagram-and-snapchat-used-most-often-by-american-teens