For some of us who are, well, not so young, there was no texting 10 years ago. For younger leaders, texting has been a part of your lives for much of the past few years. In either case, I wonder if you are using text messages to communicate with your youth group and if not, why not?
The average teenager sends and receives more than 3,300 texts a month (for girls, that total is above 4,000). There is no way possible that this behavior is not impacting our students. Maybe you think it’s a negative impact, maybe you think it’s a positive impact.
I think it’s mostly a pretty good thing. Hey, we have youth who are typing and expressing thoughts to each other. They are actually using words (well, shorter, misspelled versions of words) to communicate. I’ve worked with a group of communicators and sociologists at Duke University and we discovered that texting has had a significant and positive impact on students with low self esteem. Students who would never think to talk in a social group will text in the same group. The study also showed that those who text frequently are likely to be more empathetic and have more friends.
OK, so I think texting is OK. So now what? Well, I think texting is a really good way to communicate to youth in your youth group or church. You can text them before meetings or projects to remind them to attend. You can follow up with individuals to encourage them. You can text prayers to and with youth. The same students who never look at print pieces that you send them, will respond to texts.
It’s far from the only way to communicate, and it isn’t nearly as effective as personal, face to face communication. But if you aren’t using this communication tool, you might want to consider it. It just might be the answer to communicating with that student in your youth group that you just can’t seem to reach.