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!

An experiment in Gratitude

These past few days have been filled with the sad reminder of how precious life is. Learning three siblings from our church were in a car accident where the oldest sister (19) died and the other two (both in high school) sustained serious injuries has made me more attentive to the people in my life. People are what make my life meaningful, joyous, and rich.

And this incident is just the tip of the iceberg. Read the paper, watch the news, or follow the latest happenings on Twitter…and there are many reminders of how quickly life can change. I’m not sure what’s happening in your life, but I bet you might appreciate more gratitude. A group of folks went after that idea. Their experiment of gratitude is worth watching, and might even touch your heart. Check it out! (And thanks Soul Pancake for another great video.)

April 2013 report says…

78% of teens now have a cell phone, and almost half (47%) of them own smartphones. That translates into 37% of all teens who have smartphones, up from just 23% in 2011.
23% of teens have a tablet computer, a level comparable to the general adult population.
95% of teens use the internet.
93% of teens have a computer or have access to one at home. Seven in ten (71%) teens with home computer access say the laptop or desktop they use most often is one they share with other family members.
For more see the Teens and Technology Report Pew Report 2013