Teens and Media: YS Idea Lab with Walt Mueller
In this YS Idea Lab, Walt Mueller sat down with Brian Aaby to share how youth workers can help their students think critically and Christianly about the media they consume. Walt shares a ton of great stuff but these 3 thoughts were the highlights for me:
- Kids need people to speak into their lives and point them in the right direction as to who they are, where to find their identity, and what to believe about life. What they grab now will be with them for the rest of their lives.
When I think about the sheer amount of media that we consume, it’s easy to see why the role of the youth worker is so important. If we can remain one of the few constants in their teen years, we can be there to remind them of their identity in Christ. But I think Walt’s thought here also points to the importance of a discipleship framework that connects students into the greater church community. So that when they graduate and we’re no longer a key relationship in their life, they know where to find new age appropriate relationships that reinforce the truths about who they are in Christ.
- Culture creates maps of their lives that will shape their beliefs, which yields behaviors.
Culture works hard to create maps for our lives. It is constantly telling us what to wear, how we should look, where we should eat, and what sort of adventures we should be on. In these highly influential years, our students are using these cultural maps to understand who they are. How they choose to act is a result of these same maps. I took Walt’s perspective as a reminder that it’s far more important to work on revising a student’s map than it is to modify their behavior.
- We need to model a redemptive, God-honoring use of social media.
There are a lot of things we can be afraid of on social media, and for good reason. It’s easier than ever to find porn, for predators to find new victims, and for a student’s mistakes to follow them for the rest of their lives. But social media isn’t going to disappear and it isn’t going to get easier to avoid that stuff. So I would echo Walt’s challenge. We should be modeling a redemptive, God-honoring use of social media. Don’t leap without caution, but go be a light in the places where your students are.