July 1, 2009 PhilBell

Latest Teens and Media Trends

text messageYesterday I read the latest trends in ‘Teenage use of Media’ from Nielson provided by Media Life Magazine.

As youthworkers working with students, it is imperative that we understand teens world of communication and entertainment as much as possible, as well as find ways to ‘break into’ their world with relevant promotion, ideas, and conversation.

One caution I do want to state before you read on is this: I believe there is never a better way to minister to students than face to face contact where they see us look into their eyes with authenticity, hope and love. No media communication can replace quality time with them…

Three quotes stood out to me that I believe are helpful to us as we minister to students:

Fact is, their media habits are similar to adults“.

It seems that the teenagers and adults are using similar modes of media to connect, relax, and get things done. The major difference is perhaps that teenagers tend to use these modes of media in greater consumption. This is good news for us in terms of how to interact and promote to them. Bad news is that they might be too busy to realize…

“In the first quarter of this year the typical U.S. teen sent or received 2,899 text messages compared to 191 calls – that’s about six times the average number of texts and nearly 100 text-messages per day.  Texting is picking up across age groups, but it’s clear that teens are leading this communications shift by leaps and bounds”.

This tells me that as youthworkers, we are smart to continue to communicate with students through text messages more than ever. Again, it is my concern that this this mode should not replace face to face contact. It’s easy to ‘check off’ kids on our list if we have been texting a student. Do we truly get the full picture from them through text? Therefore, I use the Simply Youth Ministry Text Service to ‘mass texts students’ about events, weekly programs and last minute changes. I do send students encouraging words and notes, but it is more of a promotion tool.

In respect of differences between adults and teens: ”

The biggest difference are in internet use, where teens spend about half as much time online”.

I have found that students rarely view our student ministry site even though we promote it regularly. They will respond to texts and facebook invites though.  However, I still use the web as a way to connect effectively with parents and adult leaders.

Also, a common complaint I hear from some of my leaders is, “I emailed him / her and they never reply to me…” Well, now we know why… If we want to ‘make contact’ with students, we know that a phone call to their cell phone won’t work, (many of them might now even know how to answer and hang up at this point). We know that an email likely won’t work, nor will a website or a flyer in the mail. For me personally, it is a more organic approach or ‘word of mouth’,  text messages, or facebook that seems to be working.

In light, of this study, it’s important to continuously consider how we communicate with students…

What works for you?

For more on the study go to Media Life Magazine.

Phil <><

About the Author

PhilBell Phil Bell is a Family Ministry pastor with over 15 years of experience ministering to families. He holds a Masters in Christian Ministry and is a national speaker, columnist, author, and blogger. He’s passionate about investing in families and equipping parents to reach the next generation for Christ. He’s originally from England and now lives in Raleigh, NC, with his wife Lisa and their three beautiful kids.