At ym360, we're committed to equipping youth workers. While most of our energy is dedicated to doing this in the areas of Bible Study Resources and Training, we believe it's valuable for youth workers and parents to stay in the loop on what is happening in youth culture and culture in general. (Read why we think it's important here.)
A couple times a month, we'll do a post like this one, where we link to relevant articles and studies that give you a better glimpse into the world teenagers are living in.
[Note: By nature, some of the articles and subject matter we deal with in Trends & Culture often conflicts with our beliefs and ethics as Christ-followers. Our purpose in linking to this type of material is to simply give you the option of knowing the culture your students are surrounded by. Use discretion to determine which links to click on.] We'd love to know that we're not just equipping you, but those you serve, as well.
Consider using this article to equip your community in the following ways:
- Email this link to your adult volunteers
- Repost it on your blog or church website
- Email the link to all your parents to help equip them to better understand their teen's world
- SHARE IT with your youth ministry networks. This is a great way to help your peeps!
Without further ado, here are some relevant links we think you should know about.
What's A Drunk Phone?—It's not a phone that's had one too many. It's an emerging trend that finds college kids taking a second phone to bars so they won't lose their smart phone. While not specifically related to teenagers, I just thought this was a curios snapshot of youth culture. Strikes me as oddly fascinating (and a little absurd).
What's This Mean For Your Youth Ministry? Admittedly, not a lot. :) But I just thought it was a telling cultural anecdote.
- New Pew study—Almost half of young adults use phone for nearly all internet browsing—not exactly youth ministry related, but I think it speaks to a trend that is emerging in teenagers as well. Interesting cultural tidbit.
Facebook “not cool” anymore for teenagers—OK, so you've probably heard the stats (both quantitative and qualitative) of teenagers leaving Facebook. It shouldn't be a total surprise, right? However, as this post points out, tons of teens still engage on some level with the site. And, my hunch based on the Facebook activity of a number of former students now in college, teens who leave now will be back.
What's This Mean For Your Youth Ministry? Don't abandon your youth group Facebook page anytime soon.
Cyberbullying infographic—It's not going away. This infographic powerfully points out the far-reaching and deeply damaging effects of cyber-bullying.
What's This Mean For Your Youth Ministry? It's tricky. Hopefully it's not your students doing it. (If it is, that's an easy place to start.) As you help students understand their call to live the Christ-life, make sure you address the way they live this out in the virtual world, as well. And remember to continually look out for the signs of being a victim of bullying in your students.
New study shows 28% of high school students have sent a naked picture of themselves through a text—So, “sexting” is nothing new. There have actually been conflicting reports in the past couple of years about how prevalent the trend was. Numbers seem to have been inflated early on, then corrected themselves. But this study (which is a valid one) points to a statistically significant portion of students engaging in this behavior.
What's This Mean For Your Youth Ministry? There are no quick answers. But sexting and other issues of sex and sexuality are not ills in themselves but symptoms. Until teenagers understand, internalize, and truly own their identity in Christ, and their inherent and wonderful value as a result, they will continue to deal with these type of issues.
- Teens love texting and social networks but ignore e-mail—These are those studies where I think youth ministers are probably way ahead of the curve on. I stopped sending students email years ago. Facebook helps some. But texting and phone calls are the only ways I communicate, as I bet you do as well.
70 percent of teens hide what they’re doing online from their parents—In a recent study, McAfee, an Internet security company, found that about 70 percent of teens hide what they’re doing online from their parents.
What's This Mean For Your Youth Ministry? I don't think we should assume that just because kids hide stuff from their parents means that their activities online are necessarily sinister. Some of it is assuredly just a privacy thing. But, again, the call to live as followers of Christ impacts every areas of our students lives. Helping them grasp and apply this is a good thing.
- Box office numbers for last weekend—Spiderman crushed over its weekend release bringing in nearly $200 million to date. It polled high with teenagers as well. Rounding out the top 5 for last week finds two pretty vulgar offerings in “Ted” and “Magic Mike.” Hopefully your students are steering away from these. Yikes.
- The Billboard Hot 100 is a look at the most popular songs across all platforms (radio, streaming, downloading, etc.). We've always linked to the site as it lets you listen and watch (if you choose) the music many of your students and/or their friends are listening to. But as always, do so at your own discretion.
- New study asks if smoking should trigger an R rating in movies—Interesting stuff. Not sure of the ministry connection, but a good cultural tidbit that could affect your students movie watching habits.
Affluent parents spending more money and time on children's activities than lower income parents—Interesting study. This apparently hasn't always the case, BTW. The problem, according to the researchers, is the widening experience gap between lower income and middle-to upper income kids.
What's This Mean For Your Youth Ministry? It hints at the widening gap between the classes in our country, a gap that will be most felt by the young. You may find yourself increasingly needing to fill some of these gaps in your lower income students' lives.
American school-children say school not challenging enough for them—Study shows a healthy number of students across multiple age groups don't find school challenging.
What's This Mean For Your Youth Ministry? I have often said that by and large, many youth ministries don't challenge students even as well as schools do. So if this report is applicable, what does that say about many youth ministries?
Study shows increase in schools segregating classes by gender—I personally think this is a little silly. I understand the logic, but not sure this helps.
What's This Mean For Your Youth Ministry? I think there are many times in our ministries where gender segregation is really really helpful. But, I think healthy integration is vital as well. I want my guys around girls, in part because I want those moments where I can pull them aside and say, “If you keep acting like an idiot, you'll never get a date.” What are your thoughts?
- New study shows 1st time teen tobacco and marijuana use is higher in June and July—I thought this study was really interesting. Again, not sure of the direct ministry actions it necessarily dictates, but good cultural info nonetheless.
Infographic on texting and driving shows how widespread and dangerous it is—And yet, recent studies show teens aren't getting the message.
What's This Mean For Your Youth Ministry? Everything, if you care about your kids' safety. While a don't text and drive campaign is probably not the answer, modeling good behavior here and addressing it when its' appropriate probably aren't a bad idea.
That's it for this edition of the ym360 Trends & Culture report. Look for another one the week of July 23.
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