Thursday, January 08, 2009

Social Networking and Ministry: Are students being socially handycapped?

One of the complaints I have heard most about social networking is that it is impacting students ability to interact socially. Some of these complaints are the result of observing certain students who do appear to be socially handicapped. That said it seems to me based only on my own observations that the students who have a lot of online friends are very adept at interacting face to face.

None of us were around when the phone first began to take over the world, but I could imagine the same kind of concerns being voiced because of the telephone. Social networking is another way of communicating another way of keeping up with friends and family. I am baffled at why this would looked at in a negative way. The question is are people different online?

I have no doubt that people are willing to say things online they would not say in person and be part of things online they would not otherwise be part of. This certainly has both positives and negatives. The question then becomes who is the real person? I would suggest that more often than not the online person is the real person. Students need to learn restraint and judgment online just like they learn those things in how they communicate face to face.

I am not suggesting there are no challenges with social networking I am suggesting that there is nothing new under the sun. Social networking is here to stay and it will likely become more complex and pervasive not less. Instead of complaining perhaps we need to begin to think about how to use these technologies to honor God!!

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