The experiences of 11-16 year olds on social networking sites

The NSPCC earlier this week launched a new research report into the experiences of 11-16 year olds on social networking sites and the strategies they use to deal with things that upset them online.  Researchers conducted an online self completion survey in December 2012 of 1,024 11-16 year olds in the UK.

NSPCC Report Cover

Here’s some of the key findings:

  • Over one in four (28%) of children aged 11-16 with a profile on a social networking site have experienced something upsetting on it in the last year.
  • Of the children and young people who were upset, 11% were dealing with upsetting experiences on a daily basis.
  • The most reported issue experienced on social networking sites was trolling, experienced by 37% of children who had been upset.
  • Other issues experienced by children who had been upset included: pressure to look or act a certain way (14%), cyber stalking (12%), aggressive and violent language (18%), encouragement to hurt themselves (3%), receiving unwanted sexual messages (12%), and requests to send or respond to a sexual message (8%).
  • Over half of 11-16 year olds (58%) believed at least one of the people responsible for the behaviour which had upset or bothered them was either a complete stranger, someone they only knew online, or they did not know who it was at all.
  • Only 22% of the children who were upset talked with someone else face to face about the experience.

Download the full report from the NSPCC: The experiences of 11-16 year olds on social networking sites.

One Man’s Approach On The NekNomination Challenge

South African NekNomination

As you have probably seen over the past week or so, there has been a new craze called NekNomination.  This challenge has swept across social media platforms and hundreds of thousands of people have taken part.  This challenge involves downing a drink or possibly a combination of drinks and then nominating two people who you know to complete this within a 24hr period.  Once they have completed it they are then required to upload it for everyone to see.  Because of people of uploading it, it has spread exponentially as videos tend to go viral pretty quickly.  Some people take it too far and end up mixing large quantities of strong drinks or in the even more extreme cases,  people have been adding things like bleach or mouth wash to their drink.

I stumbled across a video on YouTube via Facebook, where one South African man has shown us how powerful social media can be and how it can influence people to do good:

He has taken his own approach on the NekNomination challenge,  highlighting the fact that he lives in a region of the world where un-employment is at a high, the average wages are extremely low and some people will struggle to even eat each day. This shows there is so much more that can be done with social media. As you can see something as simple as downing a drink has spread so quickly, why can’t an act of kindness to those less fortunate do the same? All it takes is a small act from a large number of  individual people to make a change.

This is how Brent Lindeque, from Johannesburg decided to do his NekNomination.

Open Paris Session 3: Digital Media and Mission

p5rn7vb

Open Paris header-v3

Session 3 of the Open Paris Conference was From Guttenberg to Zuckerberg: How Social Media is Changing the Church by me.  If you wish to use the powerpoint click here:

 

Of all the messages the world has ever heard from politicians, story tellers, advertisers and more the gospel is still the stickiest.  The good news is that God’s message is your message, which makes your presence and voice online wholly (and holy) indispensable!

I want to challenge you today as a Christ follower to change your mind-set of the way you spend your time online.  I want to challenge you to forgo denomination, to sit in the same pew or row, and write this ongoing story together and share new ways to reach a fragmented world for Christ.

Together, as leaders we can light up the online space.  We can “go” and we can “tell” as Jesus asked each of us to do.  And we can change absolutely everything.

Game Changers

Throughout history, game changers have stepped forward in the faith to affect the way people communicate God’s truth in the culture in which they live.

As far back as 2002, Pope John Paul II got it.  He understood the significance of the Internet and inspired Christians around the globe to embrace it as a way to share Christ with the world.  Here’s what he said in a public speech:

“From this galaxy of sight and sound will the face of Christ emerge and the voice of Christ be heard?  For it is only when His face is seen and His voice heard that the world will know the glad tidings of our redemption.  This is the purpose of evangelisation.  And this is what will make the Internet a genuinely human space, for if there is no room for Christ, there is no room for man … I dare to summon the whole Church bravely to cross this new threshold, to put out into the deep of the Net, so that now as in the past, the great engagement of the Gospel and culture may show to the world, ‘the glory of God on the face of Christ.”

Communication channels have changed radically since Moses walked down the mountain, stone tablets in hand.  Old Testament scribes wrote on parchment made from treated skins of sheep or goats, and they used pens fashioned from reeds.  The prophets preached in synagogues and countryside’s.  Later, Paul wrote his letters on scrolls of papyrus and gave them to friends who would deliver them to the churches in other cities.

Little did Paul realise the frenzy that would kick up on the other side of his prison bars as game changers emerged, ready to take up the charge of the gospel.  Generations of followers communicated the gospel with various tools.  In 1440 the printing press changed everything as Bibles went from locked archives to retail.

In 1517 Martin Luther nailed the Ninety-Five Theses on the door of the University Church in Wittenberg and changed the game again.  Religious tracts were used as major channels throughout the turbulence of the Protestant Reformation.  John Calvin wrote, debated, and preached tirelessly during the Reformation.  In the eighteenth century, John Wesley travelled 250,000 miles by horseback in his efforts to spread the Word, and he preached in open fields to as many as twenty thousand people at a time.

In 1922 Aimee Semple McPherson preached what is believed to be the first radio sermon.  Christian writers such as A.W. Tozer and C.S. Lewis followed with critically important writings through World War II.  Passionate game changers such as Dwight Moody and Billy Graham also shared the gospel over the radio waves.  Television and revivals catapulted the reach of Billy Graham’s ministry.  His first television crusade generated 1.5 million letters to the television station, confirming the power of that medium.

Bill Bright was another game changer when he wrote The Four Spiritual Laws, the most widely distributed religious booklet in history, and later commissioned The JESUS Film, one of the most influential films ever made.  The renowned documentary on the life of Christ has reached more than 6 billion people in 234 countries and has been translated into one thousand languages.

But just because a technology evolves, there is no guarantee that a demand will support it.  Remember the Microsoft Zune?  The Apple Cube?  Google Buzz?  You don’t remember the technology failures because they failed.  Multiple factors can be attributed to why social media has grown so rapidly, including cheaper broadband, a fire to innovate and the global economy shift.  As unprecedented economic, political, and social factors continue to fragment continents, cities and even homes, words such as connection, community, and relationship increasingly dominate the conversation.

To explain this in statistics it took radio thirty-eight years to reach fifty million users; television, thirteen years; the Internet, four years; and the iPod, three years.  In just a nine month period, Facebook added one hundred million users, and downloads of iPhone applications reached one billion.

Still think using social media is a passing fad or another waste of time?  You may soon join the ranks of these leading, albeit well-meaning, thinkers:

  • “Everyone acquainted with the subject will recognise it as a conspicuous failure.”  Henry Morton, president of the Stevens Institute of Technology on Thomas Edison’s light bulb, 1880.
  • “The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty – a fad”  The president of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford’s lawyer not to invest in the Ford Motor Company, 1903.
  • “Remote shopping, while entirely feasible, will flop – because women like to get out of the house, like to handle merchandise, like to be able to change their minds.”  Time, 1966
  • “While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility, a development of which we need waste little time dreaming.”  Lee DeForest, American radio pioneer, and inventor of the vacuum tube, 1926.
  • “Transmission of documents via telephone wires is possible in principle, but the apparatus required is so expensive that it will never become a practical proposition.”  Dennis Gabor, British physicist, 1969.

Broadcast to Social Media

In the five hundred years or so between the inventions of the printing press and the Internet, we have lived in a broadcast media environment of books, radio, newspapers, and television.  These media served as highly effective platforms for sending a single, well-crafted, attention-getting message out to as many people as possible.  But broadcast media afforded little opportunity for feedback or discussion, except, perhaps, for letters to the editor.  In the church, we have used this one-to-many broadcast communication model in sermons, printed newsletters, letters from the Rector, and broadcasting worship services on Radio 3 or Songs of Praise.

Social media represents a profound shift in this model.  Today, almost anyone can publish a blog, have a YouTube channel, and host their own podcast – in effect an internet based radio station.  Anyone can comment on, extend, qualify, discuss, and share a clergy’s sermons.

In the era of broadcast media, the most influential ministry platforms tended to be those of large cong

Miley Cyrus hits back at Sinead O’Connor

Yesterday I wrote about how Sinead O’Connor had written an open letter to Miley Cyrus.  Miley Cyrus fired back at “Nothing Compares 2U” singer Sinéad O’Connor on Twitter after O’Connor penned a lengthy and motherly open letter to the provocative 20-year-old.

In the letter, O’Connor claimed that Cyrus is being “prostituted” by the music industry and predicted the former Hannah Montana star would eventually land in rehab.  Sadly Cyrus didn’t take kindly to the advice. She responded with a tweet that poked fun at O’Connor’s 2011 brush with mental health issues. The tweet says, “Before Amanda Bynes…. There was….” and links to O’Connor’s old tweets.

Miley Cyrus tweets

Cyrus followed up that tweet with a photo of O’Connor’s memorable moment in which she tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II:

Sinead O'Connor Pope

Not one to back down, O’Connor responded to Cyrus’ tweets in a Facebook post (sadly again full of strong language):

Miley… Really? Who the fuck is advising you? Because taking me on is even more fuckin’ stupid than behaving like a prostitute and calling it feminism. You have posted today tweets of mine which are two years old, which were posted by me when I was unwell and seeking help so as to make them look like they are recent. In doing so you mock myself and Amanda Bynes for having suffered with mental health issues and for having sought help. I mean really really… who advises you? have you any idea how stupid and dangerous it is to mock people for suffering illness? You will yourself one day suffer such illness, that is without doubt. The course you have set yourself upon can only end in that, trust me. I am staggered that any 20 yr old woman of the 21st century could behave in such a dangerous and irresponsible manner as to not only send the signal to young women that its ok to act like prostitutes but also to the signal that those who have suffered or do suffer mental health problems are to be mocked and have their opinions invalidated. Have you no sense of danger at all? or responsibility? Remove your tweets immediately or you will hear from my lawyers. I am certain you will be hearing from all manner of mental health advocacy groups also. It is not acceptable to mock any person for having suffered. It is most unbecoming of you to respond in such a fashion to someone who expressed care for you. And worse that you are such an anti-female tool of the anti-female music industry. I hope that you will apologise to Amanda Bynes and to any person who has been wounded by your mockery of those who have suffered. And I hope that you will wake up and understand that you in fact are a danger to women. Furthermore you posted a photo of me tearing the pope’s photo .. as if to imply insanity.. by doing so all you have achieved is to expose your staggering ignorance. I suggest you read The Philadelphia Report, The Boston Report, all the reports which will illuminate for you why that action of mine remains sane and valid. By mocking it you mock every child who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of priests and had it covered by the Vatican. You could really do with educating yourself, that is if you’re not too busy getting your tits out to read.

O’Connor continued the conversation in another Facebook post, mentioning legal action:

Ms Cyrus has today posted tweets of mine which are two years old and which were sent when I was ill and seeking medical help. She has done this in an attempt to deliberately cause me harm and hurt. I wish to confirm that I am quite well and kindly request people cease e mailing me in the mistaken belief these are recent tweets. Ms Cyrus’ lawyers will be contacted by mine regarding this matter. I confirm also that I do not at all support or condone the abuse or mockery of those who have been brave enough to openly discuss mental health issues. Mockery causes deaths. Period. It is an unacceptable form of bullying, no matter who it is doing the bullying.

Digital Children: Q&A with Bishop Paul Butler

Q&A with Bishop Paul Butler at the Digital Children conference:

Why is it that most Vicars only receive 1 seminar on children’s ministry in 3 years of full-time training?  Wouldn’t disagree with you, keep arguing and don’t seem to get anywhere.  Heads of Theological colleges began to take it on board but changing the culture takes time.

In Australia people are licensed as a Children’s Minister or Youth Minister – everything rises and falls on leadership – why are we not empowering on this?  The last year or two of CYM has struggled to get its numbers in the Children’s Course and the number of churches that are employing a children’s specialist.  If All-Age becomes the sustainable model do the training colleges begin to slim down?

Churches seem to struggle to find the calibre of workers should we employ from abroad?  But the Border Agency would not welcome this.

Refreshing to have a Bishop who gets it – don’t take that for granted – for many a children’s worker issues of leadership are real.  How do we encourage leadership generally from sentiment and rhetoric to meaningful action?  Show me a budget and I will tell you what your focus, but let’s be honest in our accounting so that we include volunteer hours.  Honestly don’t know the answer which is one of the frustrations.  Chair the Joint Liaison Safeguarding Group between CofE and Methodists – one of the positives is that Bishops are now waking up to the seriousness of the situation and to the wider issue of where are headed with childhood.  One of the things might be to find different ways in – coming from another angle people are now willing to speak about The Good Childhood etc.  Alongside Safeguarding try Parenting and Grand-Parenting skills.

Youth worker seeking ordination thinks schools and community work has to stop – that you graduate from children’s and youth ministry to focus on the grown-up issues of weddings, funerals and more.  Part of that is about placing Ordinands with Vicars and Rectors who get it.  It is still depressing to hear that said especially given how we now say bring your business skills, or teacher skills or social work skills.  In some Dioceses the do a weekend to train Curates on Children’s and Youth ministry.

Parishes that are having the most significant success are those that are tackling the issues of poverty – for churches doing football etc., they were feeding children, building better homes and more.  We can ask for more children’s workers but it is about missiology and the child piece in that.  It is not rocket science to look at what works for the community, 8am service was to allow the workers to milk the cows, do the service and then go back to cook lunch whilst the Lord and Lady attend the 10.30am.

Half churches aren’t engaging in children’s and youth work – there is a sense of larger churches growing due to their churches – thereby leading no people to lead that work.  How do we solve this?  There are schemes to get a part-time worker; maybe it is okay for some churches to not have children’s work as some areas have a demographic where there are very few children and so should focus on the elderly etc., and partner with a local place for the few children; ecumenical partnerships will be increasingly important.

Sticky Faith talks about involvement in all areas of the church being key for faith development, but All-Age Worship is often the worse attended, committed to it as a principle but how do we shake that image.  The only way is to shake it up by having an all-age group to plan the all-age worship to think how the different ages etc. work as too often it is child worship not all-age.

We are still focussed on aspirations – children and young people who go to university – half don’t so how do we connect with them?  So much is connected to those who go off to university, and we have to go back to Rakes with the Sunday School movement and the Ragged Schools – what is the equivalent for us – Glee Club and where we can raise aspirations.

Greatest cricketer in Viv Richards asking a guy in his congregation who was a poor county cricketer to improve him.  How?  He watched and spotted and commented it and left it to Viv to make the changes.

Digital Children: Bishop Paul Butler

Bishop Paul Butler led the next session at the Digital Children conference:

Children in attendance at church has been in decline although in 2011 Baptist numbers were up and the CofE numbers were just about steady

Sales of Sunday School materials are in decline, wider materials such as Bible reading notes etc. are also in decline.

Half of all churches have little or no contact with children, and more than half have little or no contact with young people.

Schools

Our engagement with schools is stronger than it has been for a number of years, and the opportunity is there.  We all know it can vary from Head teacher to Head teacher, but the options are there, especially if we are creative.  Why is Open the Book so successful?  It says you don’t need to be young, it is dramatic, it is creative, people enjoy it, and it tells the Bible stories very faithfully.  Too many churches still think engagement with schools is taking assemblies even though they haven’t been called that for a long time – it is running gardening clubs, breakfast clubs, after-school clubs.

Messy Church

Lots of research but no one knows why it works.  It is the willingness to explore the questions as to what it looks like – what do the sacraments look like in Messy Church, how does it change from a monthly event to a lifestyle – trying things out some of which work and some of which don’t.  Whilst in Walthamstow, was told by a Superintendent from the police the problem is that we have to know it works before we will try it.  Messy Church will continue to grow and variants will develop, e.g. Godly Play in prisons and Alzheimer’s work.

Toddler and Carer Groups

They continue to flourish at extraordinary rates – very quickly parents are asking for wisdom on how to parent and bringing children up spiritually.

Church Clubs

Still a huge role for places where children can enjoy, run around, be free to explore.  But we need to explore BGT and XFactor which is dance, drama and comedy – why aren’t we doing more Glee Clubs etc.

Sport culture

150 years of football which local churches started.  Southall is a town of 7,000 inhabitants, on Sunday morning there are 500 young people in the local football club.  Why are churches not freeing adults to go and be at Southall Town FC – don’t set up your own clubs.

Mentoring

Single parent families seeing so many young people growing up with no male role model, where does the church fit in with mentoring.

Residentials

We need to grow these further, interesting conversations from schools visits with senior staff about how they matter to the life of schools and how funding limits could cause problems.  We need to help churches grow their residentials, also including families.

Church Worship

Churches will move to all-age as the norm, what Mary Hawes does in Teddington with 25 minute services is going to be important.  Sustaining Sunday groups as they are in the current format is near impossible.  We may even see the beginning of Sunday afternoon school again as seen in the development of the Messy Church timings.

Poverty

In 2011 Paul’s diocese was the fastest growing, one common feature is they engage with the local community for the sake of the community not for bringing people into the church.  We need to work alongside Sure Start, social workers, schools etc., as the poverty issue is going to be the one that will run as there is a growth in child poverty, even the government are admitting that 250k extra children will fall into child poverty due to Welfare Reforms.

Get the Story Out

We have to get the story of Jesus out into people’s lives.  We have to use digital resources but look at low tech not high tech in the sense of YouTube, Facebook, Gavin Tyte’s beatboxing – not technically brilliant, mass market and massively possible.  We want some people who are brilliant at high tech but we have to get the message out.  This doesn’t just apply to children’s and youth work – it is the whole work of the church.

Which are the stories that will connect?  Paula Goodyer and Paul Butler are working on a book for 2014 taking a dozen bible stories with Bible scholar and passionate children’s worker reflecting together on the stories.  There is the whole of the Bible not just the favourite bits which are often mis-represented in the way they are told and dumbed down.

Don’t give up on evangelism with children – who knows what we might be sowing for the long-term.

Digital Children: From Clay Tablets to iPads

Dave Roberts  carried on the Digital Children conference with Clay Tablets to iPads:

Watching a programme about impressionist paintings was like watching paint dry, but was surprised and became hooked to the four programmes in the series.  The presenter spoke about howthe artists wanted to paint the ordinary things.

They were aided by several things

  • Tube technology for storing paint came into being
  • Someone invented an easel that you could fold up and take with you
  • The railways were invented so people could travel to do the Normandy scenes
  • The brushes changed allowing the daubing to take place.

What is the core of who we are?  God the Father, Jesus the Son, work and nature of the Holy Spirit.  But John 1 with the word becoming flesh is pivotal.  Words capture faith – who we are and what we believe.

  • How has culture dealt with words, how have Christians dealt with words?
  • Are we early adopters of technology with words.

Clay Tablets

Or tablets of stone, the 10 Commandments were handed down on tablets and still guide us now.  Lots of storytelling was done in hieroglyphics and picture form on clay tablets – much of which we morally wouldn’t agree with; recorded debt – each bit scratched off and then the tablet is broken when the debt is paid is a legitimate purpose but often turned out to be illegitimate; literacy related to the devout who formed schools for children to learn – honey on lips – honey on the tablets for the letters which they picked out with hteir fingers.

Scrolls

The medium for the scene was Jesus picking up a scroll and reading Isaiah saying this is what he had come to do.  This suggests Jesus had literacy skills.  The children were taught to read so they could read the scrolls – but in reality they were asked to memorise the first five books of the Bible.  The oral tradition was very strong – some countries the Christians learn scripture by memory in case they have their Bibles taken off them by persecuting governments.

Paul writes epistles on the scrolls and uses them to help believers.

Mass Teaching Needs

The reformation was important as it allowed dissent from one theological view – John Wesley was key for this and was influenced by Zinserzolf.  But Zinserzolf was in rebellion against monastic scholasticism, and wanted ordinary people to meet in homes and begin to understand the Bible.  Out of this comes a push for mass literacy.  In pietistic communities they start to educate the girls as well as the boys.  In general literature we see references to blackboards enabling teachers to communicate on a highly visible surface.

The move to mass literacy needs equipment

Then something happened coming from Wesley based around the Clapham Sect who said they would help Wilberforce to abolish slavery, then led to the formation of the NSPCC and the RSPCA, the Religious Tract Society and the Bible Society.  We saw a tension between the Bible, Pilgrims Progress etc., against books on the Occult, witch craft.  All of the big publishers came from Christian movements, e.g. Harper Collins, Hodder & Stoughton, Mills & Boons.

Mass literacy through organisations such as the London City Mission breaks the hegemony of a particular view point bringing democracy and equality.  This needs tools – clay was discovered to develop pencils.

Tell me a story

Mass literacy is an important aspect in the story telling.  Telling the story through pictures came through television and flannelgraph.

There must be an alternative

The CUBE project of the 1950s was The Eagle, started by a Anglican Vicar who believed children’s minds were being poisoned by comics and felt that the church had an inadequate response.   The first print run had 900,000 with Dan Dare being a manly vicar or parson.  The back page had a story linked to the Apostle Paul.

Tell me the story with moving pictures

Christians got involved in moving pictures telling great stories with good skills, leading to Veggietales in the Charts and films in the Cinema.

Conclusion

The Word is the Word is the Word.  Sometimes used for desperately hurtful purposes but equally for building up.  We’ve been in the business of using technology from forever.  Taking information away from elite groups and onto the wider population.

Digital Children: Learning Spaces

Allen Reesor on Learning Spaces at the Digital Children conference:

Jesus said in Matthew 18:3 that we need to become little children but we don’t know who is the child.

Who is a child?  Are we becoming like little children?

Who learns from whom?  As adults we are not the experts, we come knowing that we don’t know.  If you already know everything you need to know you don’t need to do the research!  Children strive to know about God, to understand more about God, and they mistakenly believe adults know more.  Are we learning from them or are we trying to teach them?

Children learn differently

  • Want to access not memorise information.  They don’t bother with memorisation, they bother with access.  Are we giving them the access and avenues they want.
  • They want access to experience not facts.  The Bible doesn’t come at you as a theology text, but as a bunch of people’s experiences.

Children have a new set of values

  • They are creative not rigid – it is why they play the same level of the same game several times.  We have multiple learning styles.
  • They do not like it when the church is perceived as judging rather than accepting and loving.
  • Interested in relationship not position – don’t care on title but on whether the other person is interested in a relationship with them.
  • Children’s engagement related to change
  • What changes are significant
  • It is not about simply entertaining.  Sometimes when you encounter God you’re not always entertained, sometimes meet him in silence, sometimes challenged and browbeaten etc.

Learning Spaces: Messy Research

  • Create a Research Hypothesis
  • Roundtable discussions with theoreticians and practitioners
  • In UK and USA
  • Formulate a theory for testing

Test with qualitative research

  • Focus groups with children (aged 8-11 years old), parents, and practitioners of spiritual formation.

Initial findings

  • Indicators of Spiritual Vitality
  • 3 possible domains shown in the USA and UK: God, myself and others.

Theory of Spiritual Vitality

  • Interdependence of domains
  • What comes first?

Can we quantify pre-teen Spiritual Vitality?

If we were to measure Jesus on this scale we would have three completely over layed circles – completely perfect spiritually.  But on the negative side we would have three circles completely unrelated.

“It is not so much that it is a question of spiritual development but the development of the battle for spiritual vitality.”

Next Steps

  • Define sub-factors
  • Research review – how do other sciences quantifying such factors?
  • Create a prototype based on best practices.
  • Validate assessment results – need to test with children that the model is right.  Children have deep awareness of their spiritual life.

Digital Children: Children meeting God – in the digital realm

Maggie Barfield spoke on Children meeting God – in the digital realm

“… people with a story to tell are finding: that to tell it, they need not only to entertain their audience, but to involve them, invite them in, let them immerse themselves.”  The Art of Immersion, Frank Rose (editor of The Wired), Norton 2011

We have the stickiest story so we need to involve, invite, and immerse them.

CUBE: Working together with the American Bible Society to help 8-11s grow in their faith online.

Doing it because of the Great Commission.  Christians have done this for 2,000 years.

Most children aged 8-11s spend 2 hours online a day so if we’re going to fulfil the Great Commission we need to go online and speak their language.  Instead of telling them what to do we ask them “what should you be doing?”  “What should we be doing to help children meet God through the Bible and prayer?”

Looked at all the areas of child development, in faith and spirituality, ways of handling the Bible, where education and learning styles is going, technology developments – tablets didn’t exist when initial project started, safety and child protection.  Digital delivery quite quickly came

Marc Prensky, Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, 2001: “think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors … are ‘native speakers’ of the language.

“Digital natives …”

  • Used to receiving information really fast
  • Like to parallel process and multi-task
  • Prefer their graphics before their text
  • Prefer random access (like hypertext) – finding things on Wikipedia that are irrelevant
  • Function best when networked
  • Thrive on instant gratification and frequent rewards
  • Prefer games to “serious work”.

“a new type of narrative is emerging – one that’s told through many media at once in a way that is nonlinear, that’s participatory and often game-like, and that’s designed above all to be immersive.  This is “deep media”: stories that are not just entertaining, but immersive taking you deeper …”  The Art of Immersion, Frank Rose (editor of The Wired), Norton 2011

Justin Barrett from Fuller Theological Seminary says:

“Children learn things that their minds are tuned to learn more readily than things that go against that natural tuning … children’s minds are not a level playing field.  They are tilted in the direction of belief.”

Faith can be …

  • Shaped by teaching
  • Enhanced through response
  • Grown in community

This is all works when we live in a digital age.

Product definition

Our solution is to pursue a site that is child-focussed including gaming, entertaining and information.

“This stage of development has been called by some “the age of the young scientist” in that it is a time when things are either right or wrong.  It is also a period of considerable spiritual awareness.”  Howard Worsley, A Child Sees God

Everything we are aiming to do through CUBE can be done through a Virtual World, innovations that game writers are surprised by, finding new ways to tell and explore Bible stories with a genuine response in the online environment.  Doing some new work on the metrics and indicators of faith.

Matters Arising

  • How do you “reward” activity in a digital world – it’s normally for shooting or killing something!
  • Avoiding the anticlimax – revolutionary fun and then the Bible story – interesting and challenging.
  • Grace – how do you share this concept of God’s grace against the
  • Moving between game and beyond-game – and back.
  • Balance between fun and purpose.
  • Who am I?  Is it real or not?

Are we nearly there yet?

Done a lot of research and thinking.  Ready to press the button, but there isn’t much to show.  Want to have something available to the public in January 2014 to build an audience, and next April launch fully, scaling up the site from then on.

www.projectcube.org

www.facebook.com/ProjectCube

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.