On Sunday I had the opportunity to talk with a group of Confirmation students (6-9th grade) about social media and faith. It was quite a conversation. I wanted to make sure that this would be a conversation and not me lecturing them. The quickest way to lose a group of pre-teens and teens is to lecture them.
In preparation, I decided that I wouldn’t do a power point with examples or talk about do’s and don’ts. Instead, I talked about discernment, reaction, and response. We talked about identity. We talked about fame and why it is or isn’t important. We talked about the purpose of social media and how it gets used. The kids were engaged in the conversation.
So were the adults who sat in with the kids. They contributed as well – again in conversation, more than in lecture. This truly became an intergenerational event. That’s rare in this day and age – something where the adults participated with the kids in a group setting.
During the later discussion with just the adults, we talked about teaching style. One thing I mentioned was that I decided to use the conversation and questioning method because I wanted to get to the why of social media. If the kids can come up with an answer for why, then the how will come through. Plus, there is the added benefit of ownership of ideas. If I give them the answers, guess who owns the answers – I do. If they come up with the answers, then they do. And they are more likely to follow through on their own answers. They own them and have responsibilities for them. If they fail, it’s their deal – they can’t blame me. If it works, guess what? The same applies – it’s on them, not me.
Kids are smart. Anytime we deal with kids, we have to keep that in mind. They know about social media. They wanted to talk about specific examples. Especially examples of public figures who abuse social media. The challenge becomes why they should listen to me versus some public figure that has a ton more followers and publicity. The answer might be simplistic, but I think it holds truth – I’m right there with them, have established a relationship with them, know them, care about them, and listen to them. No celebrity can claim the same thing. That’s my hope anyway.
Have you talked with kids about faith and social media? What worked, what didn’t?