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Is it Just me? August 4, 2009

Posted by Andrew in Young people.
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There is, what I think is, a rather worrying report on the BBC website today about the increasing numbers of teenagers ‘sexting’. Sending intimate or sexually explicit images by ‘phone. The report highlights the dangers of this and in the middle of it there is this quote from Helen Penn from CEOP The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, which I’m sure is an excellent organisation. However, she says “We can completely understand why young people want to post these images to each other.” Perhaps it’s just me being prudish or old fashioned but given all the inherent dangers or problems associated with this … I can’t.

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Real Friends? August 3, 2009

Posted by Andrew in Media, Young people.
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There’s been 3 items about social networking that have caught my attention in the past few days

The first was the report written by 15 year old Matthew Robson claiming that few of his friends ued Twitter and wanted stuff for free off the internet. It seems to challenge some of the previously held views about the way teenagers use the internet

Second was Archbishop Vincent Nichols reflections that over use of soical networking leads to young people not being able to form authentic friendships

Finally was Thought for the Day by Giles Fraser that argued that too often church was only interested in ‘thick communities’ ie the traditional close knit community. Whereas for young people who were different, either through ethnicity, sexual orientation, faith, fashion or whatever then the ‘thin community’ on-line provided a place for them to find genuine community.

Different views, different ages. No real conclusions but a discussion that youthworkers need to keep up with in the coming years / months / weeks depending on how fast all this changes!

Christianity in the digital space July 14, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Bible, Media.
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digitalsymp3I am spending three days this week at St John’s College Durham at a symposium – ‘Christianity in the Digital Space’. Today has been full with a presentation by Mark Brown available here. Then 4 groups looking at Bible, Spirituality, Community and Mission in the Digital Space. This mornings discussion raised on Mission raised some very interesting questions around how we might actually create neutral, safe or sacred spaces on the net as part of our approach to evangelism. This afternoon we talked about on-line religious or missional orders. There’s loads of stuff to look at on-line videos on YouTube here and you can follow the live video feed here 7.30pm this evening

Addicted to shops July 12, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Consumerism, Media.
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Interesting article in the Times on Saturday. A review of two new studies on the psyschology of shopping. Nothing very startling really – but useful reminders.

all consumingNeal Lawson writing in ‘All consuming’ suggests that a consumer society can’t allow us to stop shopping and be content because then the whole system would die. This ‘turbo-consumerism fosters a ‘new selfishness’. (I’m not sure what was wrong with the old selfishness and wonder if the biblical word for it all is still sin!)

Interestingly he suggests that young people are sidestepping consumerism by using social networking sites – relying on their own (or perhaps their created) personalities and wit.

I need to read the book but it seems to me that the social networking sites are fuelled by this same narcisstic consumerism and financed by those who want the world to remain consumerist. What would it really mean to challenge our addiction and to help young people to do the same?

Flickering Pixels June 30, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Media.
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Flickering PixelsI discovered that Shane Hipps has written a new book on relating to the digital worls. Its sub-title is ‘How technology shapes your faith’. Shane writes clearly and there are some stimulating ideas – not all of it new. I am at a synposium in a couple of weeks ‘Christianity in the Digital Space’ where I hope we might get further thinking done.

Anyway my plan is to post my thoughts and summaries on the book here over the next week or so – return here regularly for updates. If you have the book why not read along with me and post your thoughts.

In the meantime perhaps we could start with a question: ‘Does technology shape your faith?’

Youth Work in a digital world June 12, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Education, Media, Youth Work.
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I noticed an interesting article in the Times on Wednesday about the governor of California getting rid of textbooks and replacing them with digital versions. Of course his motivation is saving money.

It did make me wonder about the Bible. With the growth of the digital world and e-books will the next generation be likely to read on-line and what does that do to Bible Study and understanding

Shane HippsI need to read Shane Hipps book ‘The Hidden Power of the Electronic Media’ again but also think about the digital age. Social networking is a massive area for today’s community building. What difference might it make to learning in the future? How is involvement in the digital world affecting the way that faith develops and grows?

Relating to today’s world June 5, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Media, Youth Work.
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I am currently at a Scripture Union conference and we have been thinking about the way in which the world – particularly the digital world – influences our task of mission with children and young people. Andrew Graystone from the Churches Media Council suggested that there have been 4 ages

a) Oral (one to one) – communication largely through face to face relationships

b) Print (Literary) (one to many) – now the need for face to face shifts and the ability to communicate without relationship opens up. It encourages linear and propositional truth

c) Broadcasting (a few to many) – control rests in all cases with those creating the content

d) Digital (many to many) – all are broadcasters and the network functions to allow truth to be relative and undermined

Its a simplistic analysis but it offers a useful framework for thinking about how we work with children and young people in today’s world.

He also talked about the way that media is converging – perhaps the 19.2 million watching Britain’s Got Talent are an indication of the convergence. Maybe there will be some things that breakthrough the tribal nature of youth culture.