Archives For technology

preteen text

Next time you’re sitting in a public place, count the number of people who are using their phones to text. I bet you lose count!

Texting is quickly becoming the #1 form of communication. Good or bad (that’s a topic for another day), it is the truth. This is especially true among preteens. In early 2008, Pew Research Center found that 51% of 12-year olds had cell phones. I can only imagine that this number has increased in the last 4 years.

According to research cited by Common Sense Media, texting is the #2 use for all cell phones behind checking the time! The research also shows that preteens (age 9 to 12) send and average of 1,146 texts per month. That’s more than 37 texts per day!

Texting is changing the way preteens communicate with one another. Should it change the way we communicate with preteens?

Here’s the question that I’ve been mulling over for the last few weeks:

Can text messaging be used constructively in preteen ministry?

I’m interested in hearing from those that have used text messaging in student ministry and/or preteen ministry. I have some concerns about using text messages with 9 to 12 year olds, but I can see value in being able to communicate things like weekly devotions, small group questions, updates about service projects or events, etc.

What do you think? Is text messaging beneficial to preteen ministry or is it a slippery slope that should be avoided?

A while back, I learned about a very cool website from Jim Kast-Keat. Jim is extremely creative, and he is always introducing new methods for educating and inspiring others.

The site Jim taught me about was Xtranormal. The site allows you to create your own script and bring it to life in a movie. It takes a little practice to get the hang of the controls, but once you do it’s amazing!

I was first using the site just to make funny videos for my daughter, and then I had an idea. We were getting ready to revamp our entire preteen ministry. New identity, new physical space, new curriculum…everything new!

There was a lot of “info” to cover, but we first wanted to just start a buzz among our leaders about the exciting changes. So, I decided to create a short video that would announce the news to our leaders. Enjoy the video!

This post is a discussion on pornography that was originally posted last May. You can also see Part 2 of this post for tips on protecting your preteens
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The pornography industry is a $14 billion business. It is estimated that 42.7% of internet users view pornography. It is literally ripping apart marriages and families every second.

Here are some of the facts about preteens and pornography…

• Average age of first Internet exposure to pornography: 11 years old

• 15-17 year olds having multiple hard-core exposures: 80%

• 8-16 year olds having viewed porn online: 90%

• Nine out of 10 children aged between eight and 16 have viewed pornography on the Internet.

• In most cases, the sex sites were accessed unintentionally when a child, often in the process of doing homework, used a seemingly innocent sounding word to search for information or pictures.
(Data from London School of Economics January 2002)

• The fourth most-searched word on the Internet for kids ages 7 and under in 2009 was “porn.”

• For all kids up to age 18, sex was No. 4, porn No. 5.

• A recent survey found that 30% of girls ages 9 to 15 years old had sent or received sexual messages or photos of themselves.

• 1 of every 3 that reported to receive “sext” messages said that they accidentally received the message that was intended for someone else.
(Data from OnlineFamily.Norton.com and research from AK Tweens)

Be sure to check out Protecting Your Preteen from Pornography for strategies on keeping porn out of your home.

Is it ok to use your smartphone’s Bible app in church?

This may or may not be a hot button issue with others.  It seems to really ruffle the feathers of some who believe that cell phones and other “gadgets” have no place in church.  I can remember a time in the 90s when electronic Bibles were released and had mixed reviews, and it seems to be the same today with smarthphones.  So my question is this:

Should preteens be allowed to use their cell phones in your ministry or should they have to check them at the door?

I’m not sure if my stance is majority or minority, but here it is.  For our ministry, we’ve decided to stop trying to fight against technology and use it to our advantage.  I realize that there must be boundaries and guidelines setup to prevent this from becoming a social media hotspot, but these tools and the appropriate apps can be very beneficial for Bible study.  Here are some reasons why I’ve taken this stance:

1. Children mimic the behaviors of their parents
Look around you at church, at small group, or at work–you’ll see adults (parents) using their mobile devices as their Bible.  Kids also see this behavior and they mimic it.  A Bible app is convenient and always nearby, so why not encourage them to use it.  I think there is something amazing about reading and studying a physical copy of God’s Word.  And it’s even more awesome for a parent to model that behavior for their children.  But why are we trying to fight for one over the other?  Why can’t both exist?

2. Bible apps are easy to use and encourage further reading
The Youversion mobile app is said to be on over 20 million devices.  20 MILLION!!!  That means most of your students have the app on their devices.  That particular app offers various reading plans, keyword searches, related passage searches, and other study tools.  This techno version of Bible study is attracting younger students to go deeper in the Word.  Instead of making preteens throw their cell phones in a box when they get to church, maybe we should teach a whole lesson on who to use them for our daily devotionals.

3. Mobile devices as “Bibles” can encourage preteens to more actively share their faith
Learning to interact with God’s Word on their cell phones can be a perfect avenue for preteens to share their faith with friends.  They can quickly navigate from passage to passage in the Bible app, and share the Gospel with a friend.  I encourage preteens to bookmark passages like the Romans Road in the app, so that they can easily share the Gospel at any point in their daily schedule.

What is your policy on using mobile devices in your ministry?

Considering the prevalence of mobile devices amongst preteens, what are some other ways that we can infuse God’s Word into their daily use of these devices?