2020 has been a crazy year, and for many church and youth ministries, there was a monumental shift to online programming. You probably had a Facebook or Instagram account going for your students, and maybe you had participated in a Zoom meeting like once in your life. But now you were called to bring everything into the digital age.
When all this started last winter and early spring, people were hopeful that life would return to normal sooner than later. However, as time has moved on, the reality is, things are not going to be changing anytime soon. Ya, maybe you will meet in person with a limited capacity, but now that the lid has blown off of digital youth ministry, we will not be able to go backwards.
So this brings me back to my original question, what do you know about digital citizenship?
This post will not be a place where you will find all the answers; however, I want to take a moment and poke at the question with you. See, I’ve been thinking a lot about this question and the digital realities of ministry these days, and I see an opportunity.
Collectively the Church and Youth Ministry have an opportunity to educate students and families about what it means to be a good digital citizen and, in turn, love like Jesus in a digital space.
You don’t have to look further than most comment sections on any social edit site to realize that we say things to each other in digital spaces that we would NEVER say to someone’s face. We use the barrier of our screens as justification for all kinds of negative barriers, and the disconnect from the physical person lets us feel like “it’s not hurting anyone.”
The reality is that cyberbullying is on the rise; our world is more divided than ever before that rhetoric seems to have been turning up 1000%. Now is the time to teach our students what it means to be digital citizens, and you have the perfect platform to do it… because your ministry is online already.
My challenge for you is to consider teaching digital citizenship this fall or at least apply the principles to how your Small Groups and Ministry navigates the fall digital programs.
As I said, I’m not an expert in the field, but I can point you in the right direction. Use the following links as a place to start. The podcast is a great primer and Common Sense Education is a fantastic place to get more information and a ton of free resources.
- How to Create Good Digital Citizens by Note to Self WNYC Studios
- Digital Citizenship Program by Common Sense Education