Faith Formation in a Digital Age


According to the Kaiser Family Foundation Study – Generation M2,

Over the past to five years, there has been a huge increase in media use among young people ages 8 to 18.

That doesn’t surprise anyone, especially parents and youthworkers.

According to the study…in 2005, the average media use (computer, TV, music, video, etc.) was 6 1/2 hours per day (with a content level of 8 1/2 hours because of multi-tasking). In 2010, the average media use was 7 1/2 hours per day (with a content level of 10 3/4 hours). That means young people are engaged with media more than 53 hours a week.

How are they spending their time?

  • listening to music – 43%
  • using the computer – 40%
  • watching TV – 39% (although not in real time, but recorded)
  • reading – 27%
  • playing video games – 22%

And 20% of media consumption (2:07) occurs on mobile devices!

And, according to a 2013 Pew Research Study,

  • 78% of teens have cell phone (47% own smartphones)
  • 23% of teens have a tablet computer (similar to the adult population)
  • 95% of teens use the internet
  • 93% of teens have a computer (or access to one at home)
(For the full Kaiser Report and the Pew Study go to the research section .)
On the one hand, that’s just a bunch of numbers. On the other hand, those numbers paint a picture of the digital shift taking place in our midst.
The world is changing, it’s fluid and hard to get our head around the impact of all these changes. But those of us involved in faith formation need to take note. These changes are shifting the ground so much of ministry rests on. As church leaders, and parents and grandparents, try to stay connected with children, youth, young adults and their families, it is important to take a step back and take account of the impact these media devices are having on our culture.
As I work with leaders, I note five key aspects of culture which haven been impacted by the digital age.
  1. Access to information has shifted, and this means learning has changed.
  2. Communication patterns have shifted, not only digitally but also face-to-face.
  3. Socialization is changing, and not just for young people.
  4. Multi-tasking is changing the ability to focus, and our sense of time.
  5. Technology is integrated in a way of life, it is not separate from our daily living.
Over the next few posts I am going to say more about each of these shifts and ponder how they might relate to a bigger question: What impact does the Digital Age have on Faith Formation?
Stay Tuned!

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