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I try to prepare myself for the tech requests of my kids: Ipods, Ipads, cell phones, laptops….and of course the newest video games and DVDs. In a world where you need to be tech savvy or at least technologically literate, I struggle with the limits to set on some of these devices and influences.
As I have struggled to raise seven kids and a foster son, I have come to some conclusions about the tech world. First, I can’t avoid it. We can limit television, computers and music, but they are everywhere and so is access to them. Second, all my children react differently to the limits placed on them and some will (horror of horrors) disobey me at times. There, I admitted it. I have raised six to adulthood, two more are close behind and I couldn’t do it perfectly. Yup….. I home schooled for years, took them to church, gave them (what I hoped was) a good example, but sometimes they disobeyed anyway.
Social media can also provide a positive tool for some children! One of my kids has a mild form of autism. Social sites helped her to connect in a non-threatening way with some of her peers. This gave her the confidence to interact more freely in person. Another daughter of mine uses her page to promote messages of chastity and a pro-life world view. We do not need to be out of the social media sites, just not negatively influenced by them.
So, with these things in mind, I have a few ideas to help parents and youth ministers tackle these difficult subjects.
1/ Don’t be too rigid. Experience has taught me that when I draw a line in the sand my children will be challenged to cross it. Rather than not having a television, we all watch things together. Instead of saying you can’t watch a particular movie, we may pre-screen it or watch it together and critique it at the end. This becomes a valuable tool for both the young adults and ourselves. They have an environment in which they are getting the benefit of our knowledge and wisdom and we know what they are drawn to watch. As our children have become adults we hope that they will make good choices and this way we can still have some influence over the things they choose.
2/ Help them to become media literate. Often times, information is presented through media purposefully confusing or even imitating truth. Most teens need help sorting this out. Teaching them how commercials are influencing them, or how movies will say, “This movie is based on actual events,” even when it is not, will help discern truth as they discover media. We can teach them critical thinking skills and give them information on websites that critique and rate movies and games for their offensive content.
3/ Join in. Many teens will use a friend’s computer to have a social networking website if they are not allowed one at home. (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc.) A better tactic might be to allow them to have one on your computer, but keep the computer in an open, family space and require that you have their password. Another idea is to have your own social media and become ‘friends’ with your kids and with their friends. You would be amazed at how much information your teen or other teens will reveal about themselves on a social networking site.
4/ Teach them safety rules. Teens often don’t realize the long-term ramifications of their actions. Consider hosting an in-service on internet safety. Discuss how predators use the internet, how info they post can follow them into job interviews and future relationships. A quick web search will reveal stories of how social media has negatively impacted someone’s life or safety.
Discuss how simple information can provide information that may violate their privacy and compromise safety. For example, a school sport’s picture with their Jersey number can be used to locate a teen. If you have any doubts about how easy it is to gain info, ask any teenage girl how she can locate a guy she has only seen once and even when she doesn’t know his name!
Encourage kids to leave off location services on their mobile devices when using wi-fi, especially in free hotspots. These services advertise where an individual can be found and when.
5/ Discuss being connected. Kids often disconnect their real life behavior from their internet behavior, song choices or movie choices. I know great Catholic kids who listen to violent music about killing and sex. They don’t think the lyrics affect their thinking process. Other teens will go to horribly offensive movies (either highly violent or sexual in nature), still others have fantasy lives on the internet.
Spending time talking about how these things can change thinking and even personalities, may help them discern what things to allow into their own lives.
*If you watch a sadistic, violent movie for two hours, can you really be the same person when you come out of the theater that you were going in?
*If a boy respects women, can he tolerate lyrics that objectify or reflect violence against women?
Opening this type of dialogue will help young people to create an informed conscience. God bless!
About eighteen months ago I took an online class called Digital Discipleship Boot camp or DDBC. I wrote about it at New Evangelizers. Now I am a presenter and coach with the program and would like to encourage you to look into the course and participate in it. Though I was fairly savvy about social media and how to use it before the course, I enjoyed the class as it exposed me to uses of technology and new forms of media I was not familiar with or in some cases even aware existed.
If we are to be a part of the New Evangelization we need to use the tools of the time. Certainly most of us would agree technology is a tool of our time. While I do not want to see technology take the place of person to person interaction, it certainly can assist us in reaching those we catechize. In particular, using technology to reach children and youth, as they are the generation which has grown up with electronic media and technology in unprecedented ways, is most important.
Digital Discipleship Boot Camp is an online program using a combination of live interaction, mentoring, coaching and personal assignments for people at any and all comfort levels in regard to technology. The topics addressed range from social media, websites and digital storytelling to the International Society for Technology in Education Standards and website copyright rules.
If you are a teacher, catechist, or a religious education director, or you work or volunteer in a parish in any capacity, this course is for you. I am not exaggerating when I say that anyone who is involved in parish ministry and uses a computer can benefit from this program. A new group is starting in February and you can find more information at Digital Discipleship, Lifelong Learners in the New Media Age. You can also learn more about Sr. Caroline Cerveny, who runs the program and is so enthusiastic about being a digital disciple!
If you have any questions, please ask in the comment box or email me at faithformation(at)stedwardpb(dot)com.
Copyright © 2014, Deanna Bartalini
I was recently contacted by Dan Gonzalez and asked to check out his new iPad app, Mass Explained. As someone who loves both the Church and technology, I was so happy he did!
I have gone through a dozen or more “apps” in the last couple of years which focus on Catholicism. As of today, I may only use three or four of them. As for the others, I got rid of them because I found the application either lacked intuitiveness or the depth of material was just not sufficient.
It is critical, from a technology standpoint, for an application to have a good “flow;” it must make sense when the user is interacting with it. If a user has to “hunt and peck” to find what they are looking for, then they’ll quickly become frustrated or lose interest. With the number of apps available today, a user will not waste time navigating a cumbersome product; they will just simply delete it and move on to the next one.
As someone who has spent over two decades studying the Catholic faith, I have found “apps” lack the level of detail and scholarship I would like to see in a product. I have concluded most Catholic applications built for smartphones and/or tablets are for people only seeking information at the introductory level.
Mass Explained for iPad hits a home run both in its easy functionality and for its scholarship! I can’t think of any other Catholic app which allows you to zoom in and out of pictures, spin 3-D objects, and view 360 degree panoramic images?
Mass Explained allows the user to use buttons, drop down menus, or swiping gestures to navigate through the material. That type of flexibility, allowing the user to customize their experience, is a great feature! The use of pop up windows also allows the user to stay a page while “drilling down” to the information they want.
From a scholarship perspective, Mass Explained, succeeds where others have failed! Hundreds of quotations and references to scripture, the Early Church Fathers, the Catechism, church councils, papal encyclicals and more! Mass Explained even has audio files, allowing users to hear prayers in Hebrew, Greek, Latin and English. This is great application for people looking to go beyond a basic understanding of the Mass. I could easily see RCIA catechists using Mass Explained to introduce the Mass to prospective Catholics.
The current Mass Explained app is “Volume 1,” which looks at the Introductory Rites and the Liturgy of the Word. A planned “Volume 2” will cover the Liturgy of the Eucharist and the Concluding Rites.
Congratulations to Dan on creating a beautiful, easy to use and informative product for Catholics and non-Catholics alike! I heartily recommend adding Mass Explained to your list of Catholic iPad Applications!
This is a slightly modified version of a post under the same title which appeared on Christopher’s Apologies on 17 Feb 2014.