It's crazy how technology speeds up the world. Trends seem to change faster than the weather in Colorado. It's hard to keep up.
Over the last week we've looked at how social media can be used as a tool for contact work, but social media isn't the only technology tool we need to be using. The more we understand how teenagers are interacting with one another, the more we'll be able to speak their language, thus earning the right to be heard.
Below are two technology trends that keep me interacting with my high school friends, even on days when I can't make it to the high school.
Last semester all my high school friends were playing Words With Friends. It's tough to play them, knowing they cheat even more than I do, but one of my favorite features is the 'in-game chat' that allows you to not only talk junk about your scrabble prowess, but also 'talk' with kids while you're doing another activity. This is key, especially for guys, as activity often opens the door to conversation.
Over Christmas break the gaming trend switched to Temple Run. I'd highly recommend never playing it because it's more addictive than Doritos. The only reason to play it is to engage kids in what they are already doing, acting as a platform for conversation and giving them a chance to teach you something. One of the best ways to interact with teenagers is to ask them to help you with something they are knowledgeable about. Trust me, most of them are quite knowledgeable about Temple Run.
This week it seems folks have moved on from Temple Run to Scramble With Friends. Scramble is similar to WWF and will probably be hot for a few weeks before the next big thing comes out.
But the smart phone gaming trend isn't the only thing rapidly shifting. High schoolers are rapidly changing the way they communicate.
First it was AIM Instant Messaging.
Then text messaging
Then Facebook Messenger chatting.
Then tweeting and DM's (Direct Messaging in Twitter.)
And now...the new hot trend is Voxer, the smart phone walkie-talkie. It's audio texting, leaving a voice mail without actually having to call someone. If you're not yet on Voxer, and you're a Young Life leader, jump on the train. It's a fun way to interact with your high school friends!
So why all these changes in ways teenagers communicate?
Maybe because parents are getting smarter, but still a few steps behind the curve.
If 92% of parents are friends with their kids on facebook, no wonder teenagers moved to twitter. They can keep the facebook wall looking parent-friendly while revealing their true feelings on twitter.
If parents start checking their kids text messages to "spy" on them, no wonder teenagers are moving to Voxer. Parents have no clue what Voxer is, so they can speak safely without fear of being caught.
It breaks my heart that so much of our high school friends' lives are controlled by fear and secrets, even the very way they communicate. We must continue to enter the dark world of their secrets, bringing with us the light of Christ, the hope of truth, and the freedom of the gospel.
O Bright Morning Star, would you shine into the dark world where our high school friends live. May you shine so brightly that your radiant truth is more captivating than the appetites of the world. May you shine into us Young Life leaders, who also fight our own daily darkness, fear, and shame. Burn away our secrets. Purify us O Morning Star, that we too may shine like stars in the universe. Amen.
Additional Reading: A Nielson Report On How Teens Use Media