Instagram, Facebook, Vine, YouTube, Vimeo, Snapchat, Netflix, microwaves, drive-thrus, the list goes on. These are just a few commodities that are shaping our young people today. The results: instant gratification, instant attention, over stimulation, information overload, inactivity, shorter attention spans, lack of face-to-face communication and so on.
While there are plenty of negatives shaping our youth, we also see that young people today can be considered industrious, team-oriented and curious. They strive to be entrepreneurs, researchers, visual communicators, multitaskers and experts. This generation has a unique upbringing: And awakening their “care” during this holiday season will take some effort.
So what can we do to awaken the care?
Share a social cause they can help fight for. It will be important for you to know your child and find something that he or she is going to be curious about. Maybe it’s hunger, homelessness, animal welfare or the environment that sparks interest. There are many avenues you can take.
Research it together. This generation is accustomed to multiple forms of research. You can watch YouTube videos together that give facts and tells stories or you can find infographics with quick statistics. Brainstorm with your child about different ways to solve the issue, letting your child be part of the planning process. Young people have an internal desire to be experts, in control and to start something new — so feed that desire in a positive way by empowering them.
Give them hands-on experience. If you start with this one, you may find that your child will be unimpressed, annoyed and distant because you have not done the work to peak their interest. If you start with Nos. 1 and 2, then you will have better results.
Share your experience. Take pictures during of your experience and have your child share them. They can post or text them, or even take a video and put it on YouTube.
Process happened without an electronic. Ask your child what he or she posted about earlier, then listen. Build off what she shares with you by asking open-ended questions. This piece can be difficult, but this face-to-face processing is a necessary skill to learn. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Now repeat, often. We all learn by repetition so if you want your child to care, be the example. Do the work, and lead them well! The result will be better than what you think and others will be blessed because of it.
Jennifer Daugherty is the next generation pastor at Freedom Life (Centre County). This column is provided by the Communities That Care Prevention Coalition of Centre County serving Bald Eagle, Bellefonte, Penns Valley, Philipsburg-Osceola and State College Area School Districts.