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Helping Your Church's Youth Develop Good Online Habits

Without question, today's youth live in a world unlike that of their parents. It is a world of instant and constant communication, and of access to resources and perspectives from almost every culture and region in the world, including the most prestigious museums, libraries, and educational institutions on the planet. However, it is also a world in which people can create trouble for themselves and for others, and in which someone who has become the object of teasing from peers can experience unrelenting persecution. How do adults, especially adults whose calling and charge is to impart religious values and sensitivities to youth and young adults, guide those tweens, teens, and 20-somethings into spiritually healthy online habits? In an article on Faith & Leadership, an online offering of Duke Divinity School, the Rev. Keith Anderson argues that it is not possible to equip youngsters to take care of themselves as people of faith in the digital space if church leaders and teachers are not also in that space. In his own church, Anderson, who has built a national reputation as a Christian social media expert in the area of catechizing teens and tweens, incorporates technology and social media into youth formation by conducting some class work online, and by empowering youth to use the Internet to complete church class homework assignments, such as posting to Instagram photos depicting one of the Ten Commandments under discussion. Read the article to explore the range of Anderson's experimentation. For more perspective and resources, explore our feature articles, "Reversing the Exodus: 7 Traits of Churches that Successfully Attract Young Adults," and "Best Resources on Youth and Youth Programming for Congregations."

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