One of my passions, and part of my job at ym360, is to explore how culture impacts discipleship in teenagers. I love writing and leading workshops about this topic as I think it's absolutely vital to know the backdrop of our teenager's faith development and the effect it has on spiritual development.
When I lead workshops for youth workers, I almost always have people come up and ask what sites I use to track trends and culture.
So, I thought it would be helpful to pass along my top 5 online resources to youth workers (and parents teens and tweens). I also included a few additional sources at the end. Check these resources out and if you like them, bookmark them or add them to your RSS feed. Share them with your team and your students' parents. They're part of the way I stay informed with what's going on in the world our teenagers are growing up in.
1. The Center For Parent/Youth Understanding
CPYU.org is a great resource. Walt Mueller and his team have for years been on the forefront of tracking how youth culture affects spiritual growth in teenagers. In addition to checking out the “Youth Culture News” on their website, you can sign up to get their e-update. BONUS: Walt's personal blog, “Learning My Lines” offers his own personal reflections on culture and spirituality.
YPulse.com is a site devoted specifically to millennials (the 80 million roughly 13-30 year old demographic in our country), though they are poised to track the next generation as well. YPulse is not a faith-based site. They view trends with an eye toward a marketer/advertiser audience. But I find their daily “Essentials” feed a great source of youth culture insight.
3. The Youth Culture Report
The Youth Culture Report is one of the best sources of trend spotting on the Internet. The folks at TYCR aggregate articles that focus on youth culture, youth ministry, and research. It's a daily source of content for me.
4. Youth Worker Journal
The Youth Worker Journal is a great youth ministry magazine. They have a tab on their website called “Youth Culture And News.” They routinely update it with very timely trends and culture updates. I have their RSS feed feeding content to my Feedly account. But simply bookmarking the site and checking back every so often would be a good way to stay up to date with cultural trends.
Buzzfeed represents the real identity of what the Internet has become. It is a collection of memes, viral videos, articles, and goofy opinion pieces. It's not faith-based and some people may find some of the content objectionable. But, if you want to know what your teenagers or their friends are tracking, it's on Buzzfeed.
Additional Sources of Youth Culture Content:
- YouTube You Can Use from our friends at The Youth Cartel.
- Try this: Google search for "teenagers + study," then filter by "News." You'll get a great list of the latest research and studies about teenagers. (Filter by "Time" to get the most recent results.
- Pew Internet Research Project
- Billboard's Hot 100
These some of the online methods I use to stay up to speed with the world our kids are growing up in.
Consider utilizing these sites as a way to know what your tweens or teens are encountering in their day-to-day lives, and to better be able to engage them in relevant conversation about the factors influencing their personal and spiritual identities.