Digital Child: Discussion 1

Key points from the small groups:

  • Tone on the internet can often be unhelpfully aggressive
  • Still an interest on elitism as not everyone has access to internet or devices.
  • Difference of digital v broadcast
  • Is social media going to change the church
  • Children looking for participation models and critiquing evidence and sources – who do we do this
  • How there are some parts of technology that has been well embraced in churches and others bit not so well embraced – e.g. subtitling for worship and video not happening.
  • Who owns inclusion in the church and own this?  This requires the need to be organised.

Some big comments and threads:

  • People uses the medium to ram home the old message, the debate between command and control people and discipleship and empowerment people is a big debate which social media sit sin the middle of.
  • Has the church ever understood what participation is – for all adults we are still in broadcast church even though we understand that learning styles are critical.
  • Multi-voice church recommended – are we returning to a more participative method.
  • It is both and – broadcast is when we say Jesus is Lord, and the participation is discipleship – we’ve focussed on evangelism in the last few hundred years but don’t shift too far so that we throw the baby out with the bath water and forget evangelism due to discipleship.

Digital Children: Tablets & Smartphones

Dave Roberts  kicked off the Digital Children conference with a session on Tablets & Smartphones:

Most people in the room have tablets and smartphones.  So want to examine how this disrupts the way we connect and work with children.  There are Christians innovating in this area, e.g. Youversion doing translations for Bibles, prayer list apps.  But how are we as a community of believers stepping back and saying what will this mean for our interaction with children.

As technology changes, the medium of delivery changes and that is why we gather today.

The facts from the UK

  • 92% own a mobile phone
  • 6/10 in the UK own a smartphone
  • 58% of smart phone owners are female
  • 51% now access the internet via their phone, 32% every day (although some say 37%)
  • Average UK household 4-6 screens
  • 13% are table users.
  • Older audience for tablets but this may relate to affordability and so this will drop downwards as market penetration deepens and price drops.
  • Anecdotal evidence and high sales of child apps suggest heavy usage of tablets among the very young.

7th June – report on tablets use in primary school in Swansea seeing a reading leap from 9 year to 13 years.  Teachers said they had never seen such a dramatic turnaround.  Touch screen is important – the more real and familiar it feels from a 2 year old perspective.

5 Reasons Why This Matters

Portability: it had to be book size, something easy to carry around, iPads aren’t small enough which is why iPad Minis are taking off.

Accessibility: increasing internet access, mobile access – e.g. finding map directions when lost.

Connectivity: finding information and communicating from wherever we are.

Affordability: this will be addressed as it penetrates further into society and basic materials for a tablet can be made for $25.

Ubiquity: when there comes a point at which saturation happens, the momentum of use increases hugely.

The learning experience

  • The auditory child (listening, watching, discovering)
  • The tactile/kinaesthetic child (puzzle-games-discovery via tablet)
  • The visual child (flannel graph – video – tablet)
  • The analytical child (facts)
  • The innovative learner (interaction)
  • The common sense learner (solutions and action)
  • The dynamic learner (synthesize from different sources)
  • Technology multiples the possibilities for children

The new world of Christian formation

Discipleship is a multi-input process – some of which will never change.  But books and narrative have always had a role.  Tablets are the new books and print.

Worship or Idolatry

  • Creativity is a creation attribute
  • There is no sacred, secular.  Only worship or idolatry.
  • Can be social innovation, compassion, teaching, enhanced community.  Can be pornography, bullying and more.
  • But we want to learn more about the good.