I gave a fireside for a neighboring stake last night on New Media, we focused mostly on Facebook It was a lot of fun. The chapel was filled with youth. I asked how many were on Facebook, a good 80 percent of the kids raised their hands! This is an affluent, educated area, and I was thinking maybe half would raise their hands, but even I was shocked at the high number of kids who Facebook.
After the fireside I was talking to a local Bishop, he said he was stunned at how many kids raised their hands. He said he has been considering getting on Facebook for a while and now, after seeing how pervasive it is, was convinced he needed to do it now.
There is a post about Facebook on the church’s semi-official IT blog. It sort of says facebook is like terrorism, you will never eliminate it, so you better learn to manage it. Those are my words, not his.
Here is some of the post encouraging parents and leaders to get involved online:
if you are a parent of a teenage or a youth leader, you are probably less technically savvy than the youth you work with. Many parents and youth leaders I have spoken with don’t really understand what Facebook is and most have never visited the Web site. I’m not advocating spying on your kids (I’ll leave that up to your own discretion) but I do think parents and leaders should visit Facebook and see what the youth are doing online.
For the record, I absolutely advocate spying on your kids, and telling them that you are doing it. They secretly like the attention, it is like you are paparazzi.. and they are the celebrities.
I am in the process of writing a talk to give at a fireside next week for a neighboring Stake. The topic is the Internet and new media. I will of course cover Internet safety. But I may surprise some youth there with my pretty positive take on the Internet and it’s potential for good in our lives. The Church it seems to now realize that online is going to be a critical dimension in spreading the Gospel from now on. I wonder if at some point we will see cyber-missionaries called, Young Men or women who may have heatlh or other reasons why they can not be called into the traditional Mission field, who live at home and live a missionary life, but are teaching and spreading positive messages about the Church online. Heck, maybe they will go trackting in second life.
I am interested to hear from you, have you had any good experiences with your youth online? Unfortunately the examples of problems online for our youth are not hard to come by, so I am more interested in hearing about positive experiences. I would also love to hear what you are doing in your Ward or Stake to deal with the reality of the Internet and New Media.
A very interesting bit of analysis has come out. One web watcher says social networking (Facebook, myspace, linked-in, Twitter. etc) has surpassed porn as the number one online activity. (Social Networking Passes Porn) It seems that a good (or at worst, neutral) online activity is surpassing a bad one. Obviously Elder Ballard was onto something when he basically pleaded with the Saints to not abandon the Internet & new media, but to learn to use it wisely, and for good.
A few months ago I wrote about the controversy over Facebook and LDS kids. I find that parents who don’t know much about social networking fear it because they think predators are lurking out there waiting to pounce. Once parents get some experience in social networking they realize the bigger problem is the amount of time youth can waste on it. While there are clearly risks, they can be managed and I remain a booster of social networking, provided it is supervised and used wisely.
The hottest topic right now for YM/YW leaders has to be Facebook and other online issues. It is a tough one. My (non-member) co-worker often says his kid is not allowed online, because allowing the Internet in the house is “…like bringing the bus full of convicts from Jacktown (state prison) through my front door.” He may be right.
John 17:15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil
Leaders don’t even agree on what is appropriate. In our presidency alone, one counselor does not think it is appropriate for a their child to even have an e-mail adress. I on the other hand have a Facebook group for my Quorum and use it to communicate with the boys. A wide gulf there, but mutual respect flows freely and it is not a point of contention. I think my position is pretty reasoned, but it is also easy to support another family’s effort to keep their kids safe. I just do what I think is best, while understanding and following Parent’s directives for their individual kids. Obviously if you are reading this, you are Internet positive, and you probably come down closer to my point.
A bit of my history on this topic; in grade shool my family’s TV only got VHF (channels 2 -13). UHF was only on newer TV’s, which we did not own. The UHF channels carried all the cool shows; Brady Bunch, Lost in Space, Flintstones, 3 Stooges, Speed Racer, etc. My friends were constantly talking about those shows and I was competely left out of those conversations. Later at BYU in one of my communications classes I learned a name for what I was lacked, I didn’t have “social currency” I was not part of the conversation. I wouldn’t say it scared me for life, but it sucked. I admit that this line of reasoning could be distorted, ie– why not have the the kids smoke dope so they can talk about it with their friends would be taking it a little far, but the act of going online is not immoral in itself. In fact much good can be done online, from communicating between ward members (email is clearly now the prefered method of communication in my ward) to doing missionary work. However the danger can also not be overstated and supervision is critical.
Allowing teenagers to drive cars comes to mind. It is dangerous, physically and morally. Teens are killed in auto accidents every day, and babies are made in parked cars every night. As a society, we have decided it is worth the risk, and have a process of education and supervision to manage it. I suggest education and supervision is the best way to handle our youth’s thirst to be online.
BTW I think the single greatest mistake parents make in supervising their kids online is allowing computers in their bedroom. THAT is allowing all the convicts climb in through the bedroom window.
Welcome to the LDS Young Men Blog. A practical place to share ideas on how to improve our Young Men’s program. I have often searched online for Mutual Activities and other ideas, and have found very little to help in the rubber-meets-the-road logistical challenges that YM leaders face. The LDS.org site is pretty good for answering basic “by the book” questions, and great in spriritual matters, but weak in practical suggestions. There are also a lot of Young women sites/blogs, apparently the YW leaders are a little more technically savvy, or are just more interested in “sharing” their experiences than us brethren (they do like to chat). I hope this blog will help fill the void.
I welcome all comments, as those will become the strength of this endeavor. Note, this is also my first blog, so I plan to learn the craft as I go, so be patient with mistakes.