Totally Catholic Youth Ministers Lounge

Are you in youth ministry and you've had it with crazed parents? Rollin' your eyes at the pastoral council? Tired of administration work? Love youth? Love the Church? Appalled at parish politics? Looking for some good games? For a creative ways to teach a lesson for Religious Ed? Just need a place to veg out and say "phew! Someone outside of the parish to talk to!"? Grab y'r Starbucks, turn the computer away from the staff's eyes, grab a seat on a donated dusty couch and let it all go.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Online Presence: Good Thing Or Not?

A reader asked me to ask ya'll what you thought of starting a blog with his group. I began thinking about some of the other ways that are available to us online-myspace, facebook, iming, gmail, etc.

Are there things to be wary of? Have you done these things with your kids? What are some of the benefits? What are some of the pitfalls?

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Blogger Dennis said...

I think it COULD be a good thing. Imagine a kid in your youth program is at school and is looking for a comfortable way to invite some of his/her friends to the next event. S/he could easily pull up the myspace page or the blog or whatever, and show the videos the group made, or the pictures of the last picnic, or whatever. And s/he could even do this at a public school!

Danger: pictures and videos of your church's kids on the web might require release forms from parents. Maybe. I don't know. But it's something to ask someone competent about. Does anyone have experience with that?

5:22 PM  
Blogger Turk said...

I'm on the fence. I think a blog could be a good way to keep kids informed of not only what the next event or teaching is but also discussion about current religious events/happenings/teachings. It could also be a great way for them to find resources on topics they might be interested in.

I don't want to do a myspace because we have encouraged our kids not have a myspace.

Pictures would be a concern. At this point I think I would stay away from that.

6:19 PM  
Blogger TCYM Lounge said...

What about facebook?

Why have you encouraged kids to stay away from myspace?

8:54 AM  
Blogger Whiteboy said...

I think a well maintained web presence can be an excellent aid to any YM program. At one point I created one that had a blog front page for program and Church news (local and universal), a discussion board that became an extension of our weekly Bible Study (each week we'd start a thread about what we discussed, so the kids that couldn't make it could join is, as well as those that weren't interested could see what it was all about). Pictures are hit and my old parish, it wasn't even an issue. When I moved to Florida, it was release forms galore.

As far as MySpace (as well as Facebook and the rest) goes, while I agree with the sentiment that it should be discouraged, in most cases the kids are already on it when the discouragement happens. That was the case when I started at a parish, so I decided to use that a bit to my advantage. I created a MySpace group for our youth group and had the kids spread the word around for everyone to join. It was nominally used for posting news and such, but I also had a secondary motivation - if the kids join the group, I now have a list of all my kids' profiles. And while some might bother me to look through at times, in more than a few cases some teachable moments came out of seeing what they've posted, which I may not have found if they hadn't joined the group.

The key to any good site, however, is that it is frequently updated. If it's just static with nothing going on, the kids will get bored with it and not check it that often. If content is kept fresh, they'll keep hitting it. Ideas on that area include having an "ask a priest" section, having the kids write CD and movie reviews, as well as reviews and recaps of recent programs. Obviously, something like this requires a little more maintenance than a standard blog front end, but I think the communication and community building aspects of a decent site provide some serious benefits, because for better or worse, a lot of our kids live online.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Turk said...

TYCM Lounge,

Facebook has been discussed.

The media and school have done a pretty good job of informing kids about predators so we took a different approach.

We found it has consumed the kids to a point they spent hour and hours online chatting. We also found more bad than good was going on, rumors and gossip... We have challenged the kids to spend that time learning about their faith and praying. The kids have taken on the challenge and have had several kids come us saying they have deleted their myspace. Some have not and continue to chat but at least it gets them thinking.

The other night I asked a kid if her mom looked at her myspace. She said she does look at her profile but not at what she chats about. I asked her if her mom was to come to her and ask to see what she chats about would she allow her to look. She said she would need to delete some things. I reminded her that God sees ALL that we do and she should remember that. She said she hadn't really thought of that.

Becasue of our discussions I personally would stay away from a myspace a look at doing a blog.

10:27 AM  
Blogger BK said...

Hey TCYM Lounge, could you please contact me at Holy Cross College Campus Ministry. rkloska at hcc-nd dot edu.

10:43 PM  

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