TECH-SAVVY KIDS EXPECT MORE
Today’s children live in an era of technological abundance. The
typical American child lives in a house with multiple TVs and video
game consoles. Kids up to 12 years old send and receive an average
of 1,178 text messages every month.
Access to content is growing as well. Websites are too numerous
to quantify. Web tools such as Google answer every question with
countless results. Children’s Technology Review (childrenstech.com) reveals
“more products have been published in the past 48 months than in
the first 27 years of children’s interactive media.” A simple
search in the iTunes app store reveals thousands of apps tagged for
kids. In today’s era of technological abundance, kids expect more:
more options, more answers, more friends, more screens, more tasks,
more time — just a little more.
KIDMINTIP Understand that with so many
options at their fingertips, tech-savvy kids have difficulty
understanding or comprehending digital scarcity locally and
Kids LOVE these Sunday School resources!
TECH-SAVVY KIDS MAKE CONNECTIONS
The Internet is a natural environment for tech-savvy kids. Even
the language used to name and describe the Internet is connective
at its core. Consider the term “World Wide Web.” When it was
introduced around 1990, the “web” consisted of links that connected
to other links. Now those web connections involve more than
hyperlinks; they involve people. Children long for a linked,
nonlinear world that allows them to think and dream about their
future but also enables them to go back in time.
Tech-savvy kids have learned that it’s easy to make connections
when they watch and rate a video on a sharing site, comment on and
publish blogs, read and reply via email, invite and play with
GameCenter, or achieve and brag on Angry Birds. You can help
parents and kids develop digital literacy so they can wisely
navigate the wealth of connections they can and want to make.
KIDMINTIP Tech-savvy kids are nonlinear
thinkers; start integrating nonlinear tools to help them
TECH-SAVVY KIDS PARTICIPATE IN LEARNING
Tech-savvy kids who create media, share their work, and spend
their lives connecting to others want to be part of the learning
process. A key term in thinking about these emerging cultural
shifts is “participatory learning.” Participatory learning includes
the myriad ways that kids use new technologies to participate in
virtual communities where they brainstorm, plan, design, implement,
advance, or simply discuss their practices, goals, and ideas
Participation in the digital learning process is dramatically
different from the traditional model, which tends to be more
hierarchical (teacher talks, child listens). In participatory
learning, kids help fashion the learning experience. The difficulty
is designing environments that are engaging without depending too
much on making those environments entertaining. Children want to
participate in the process of their learning, and this desire
requires a new sensitivity on the part of the teachers and leaders
KIDMINTIP Stop asking kids to sit and
listen; start asking them to help you teach.
TECH-SAVVY KIDS MOVE AT LIGHT SPEED
Remember being a child and thinking that certain shoes were
“faster” than others? For me, moving fast is a thing of the past.
But when I watch television, check my email, or interact with an
entire small group of children during a weekend service who have
their smartphones handy, I’m reminded that the world is getting
faster, not slower. Mobile data, the Internet, computers, gaming
cores, and operating systems are all gaining speed. The lives of
children echo the changes in technology.
Tech-savvy kids think, adapt, and live faster than I do. Older
generations may have difficulty keeping up with the pace of kids in
addition to the rate of change brought on by the reality of our
digital world. The risk for older generations who hold the
responsibility for teaching tech-savvy kids is becoming obsolete
KIDMINTIP Wrestle with the tension between
slowing down to help kids experience and respond to God and keeping
up with the changes in their world.
Matt Guevara (twitter.com/mattguevara)
serves kids at Christ Community Church in St. Charles, Illinois. He
is the ideator behind What Matters Now in Children’s Ministry
(cmwhatmatters.com), and he
is a blogger at the Cory Center for Children’s Ministry (corycenter.org).
Don’t be nervous. Even if you secretly wonder what makes some
phones smarter than others, you can learn a few tech-savvy basics.
While there’s no simple plan for completely understanding the next
generation, if you commit to constant lifelong learning and
“upgrade” your imagination about what’s possible, you’ll be able to
engage the next generation with confidence.
LEARN Three primary voices have defined the
digital nature of children across the world: Don Tapscott, Marc
Prensky, and Larry D. Rosen. Pick up a book by one of these
authors: Growing Up Digital: The Rise of the Net
Generation (Tapscott), Teaching Digital Natives:
Partnering for Real Learning (Prensky), or Rewired:
Understanding the iGeneration and the Way They Learn
FOLLOW Educators, pastors, leaders, authors,
and communicators are thinking and writing about tech-savvy kids.
The Committed Sardine blog is written by a group of public school
advocates and focuses on new technologies that impact the field of
education (subscribe at committedsardine.com).
To stay informed about all things digital, scan Wired.com. You’ll find insight on
how technology informs all facets of modern life. You can also
visit Corycenter.org to find
articles, blogs, and podcasts about ministering to digital
INVEST Convince your church to direct part of
the budget toward technology for children’s ministry. Some great
initial investments include a Flip video camera, digital camera,
iPod touch, or a tablet computer. Ask one of your tech-savvy kids
to teach you how to use these things.
PLAY There are some amazing web tools to teach
kids about God. Prezi (prezi.com)
is helpful, non-linear presentation software. Create art from text
at Tagxedo.com. Make your own
cartoon movies using Xtranormal.com. Expand your
learning space with a wiki for preteens using Pbworks.com or by creating an online
classroom through wiggio.com. For fun, play “You Might Get Nervous”
For more insight on embracing social media in ministry, go to childrensministry.com/webextras.