Monday, February 6, 2017

Using The Internet Pastorally

Smartphone use is now a fixed reality of life. Consequently, pastoral work among the young is a challenge and efforts are made to understand and adapt to the present situation. Not really surprising is the refusal of some of the Sunday school students to go on retreat or camp because they can't take their smartphone with them.

Young people from the time they are born, learn to relate easily to the digital culture and have a preference for instant gratification for the wonders of the digital experience. With the smartphone in their hand, they can quickly enter the SNS world. However, with the use of the digital media, their attention spans continue to decrease. Instead of using words to express feelings they use emoticons. They feel at home with animated cartoons (webtoons) which last less than 10 minutes.

The Catholic Peace Weekly in an article tells the readers how far the pastoral work has progressed in using the digital media for work with the young. Mentioned are the efforts in some of the dioceses and parishes to use cyberspace.

One parish in Seoul found the children busy taking a religious internet quiz and checking the results. Other examples were listed on how the parishes have tried to get the interest of the children. Seoul began in 2015 working with the internet to instruct the children. They have used digital platforms and Korean KaKao Talk (Korean free mobile instant messaging application for smartphones with free text and call features). Since 2013 Taegu has been using Podcasting for instructions and was successful.

Some of the teachers have expressed the opinion that we lag behind the Protestants in these efforts. We don't have the capability at present to take advantage of the opportunities available. There are many programs that are now available but one of the teachers mentions that we need programs for the young people, that are attractive.

Young people in Korea 10-19  use the smartphone about  4.8 hours a day and 2.7 hours they are frequenting SNS. Middle school children use it the most with 4.9. 73.8 % use it for contacts with others, 53.6% for information, 30.1% for pleasure and to relieve stress,  and 20.1 % out of habit.

About 3 out of 10 young people are in danger of becoming addicted. The numbers of those who are addicted increase each year. Middle school students are the highest with about 36.3% in danger of addiction. Those who use the smartphone for pleasure and to relieve stress or habit are in the most danger. 

Some fear that too much will be invested in developing our approach to the internet and although necessary they are hoping we will not forget that the best type of education comes from the 'hands on type of learning' where the students reflect on what they are learning with programs and in relationships.

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