Digital Kids Initiative
The cultural context of children and teens is changing at breakneck speed. These changes leave kids facing a host of unprecedented problems, challenges, and choices. Because parents, youth workers, educators and other adults are by and large ignorant to these changes, their ability to influence, guide and direct teens in this new world is oftentimes forfeited. In addition, the continued decline of the institution of the family has created a situation where other cultural forces are stepping in to raise our children, shaping both who they are now and who they will be for the rest of their lives. Sadly, these changes are combining to influence our culture and children to move away from embracing the Kingdom of God, to embracing the kingdoms of what the Scriptures call “the world, the flesh, and the devil.”
View a video message about the Digital Kids Initiative from CPYU President Walt Mueller
One of the most sweeping and influential changes is the rapid expansion and growth of media technologies and outlets. The most recent research indicates that the average 8 to 18-year-old in America is engaging with media for 7 hours and 38 minutes a day. Much of their media engagement includes time spent engaging with others via social media technologies that didn’t even exist six years ago (Facebook, etc.). Today’s children and teens are a “wired” generation. They are constantly connected to their media and their media is constantly connected to them. Because they are at an impressionable and vulnerable age, children and teens are eager and willing to follow a media world that is attractive, pervasive, convincing, and compelling. Media is increasing in influence. In some cases, media is the main socializing and nurturing influence in a child’s life, shaping their worldviews in powerful ways.
The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding (CPYU) has identified media education as a major need in today’s emerging culture. Young people are engaging media without having developed healthy practices, boundaries, or filters. In addition, they don’t know how to interpret media messages in light of the truths of God’s Word, thereby giving them the ability to discern truth from lies in media’s messages. Adults - who are largely ignorant to new media technologies and the roles they play in their children’s lives – are unknowingly abdicating the parenting role and the spiritual nurture of their children to the world of today’s media. And, when parents do want to respond, they are at a loss regarding God-honoring response strategies.
Parents need and desire information and guidance that will help them understand this new media world and the role it plays in their children’s lives, along with solid Biblical guidance and response strategies for healthy media use and media evaluation. In addition, children and teens need to learn how to engage with the world of media in ways that bring honor and glory to God.
Our call to be salt and light in the world combines with our God-given responsibility to teach our children the way and will of our Heavenly Father in times where there is an urgency to address these needs. We can’t sit idly by without offering a biblically sound and balanced response to the realities of living in a wired world. Christ’s call to “come and follow me” includes an integration of our faith into all of life, including the emerging media frontier. Here at CPYU, we are excited to hear a mounting cry for help from parents, youth workers, educators, and pastors. The need is not only real, but felt. We are also excited that we are uniquely positioned to address these needs across North America and around the world.
The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding seeks to launch a new Digital Kids Initiative (DKI) in response to these needs. CPYU is uniquely positioned to address these needs thanks to a 20-plus year history of successful and internationally respected seminar development, writing, and presentations. The DKI will include the following elements:
- A seminar for parents, youth workers, and educators that will help them understand the emerging world of media technologies and messages, how media is influencing and shaping their kids, and biblically faithful response strategies. This seminar will be written in a three-hour format that can be adapted in both longer and shorter versions, with the ability to present biblically-sound information in a non-sectarian format when those opportunities arise. New: Four Digital Kids Initiative seminars announced! Check out our Seminars page for details.
- Seminar support including handouts, video, powerpoint, etc. Click here to download the Family Digital Covenant of Conduct.
- Printed tools and guides for both parents and students to use individually, in their family, and in groups. These guides would be modeled after CPYU’s popular “How to Use Your Head to Guard Your Heart: 3(D) Media Evaluation Guide.”
- A DKI presence on the CPYU web page at www.cpyu.org/digitalkids. Continue to visit this page for updated information.
- Other materials as needed and as funding allows, including online Webinars.