NOTE: This article originally appeared here on the More Than Dodgeball blog.
Here are a few topics I believe we as youth workers need to speak on in our ministries. I do believe that the increase in the statistics of these areas is largely due to social media. So as you read through, think about how social media is affecting these areas and how you can affectively address them in your ministry.
Notice that I don’t give solutions, because I believe every youth group is different and you know your students better. I wrote this to hopefully open our eyes a bit to what could potentially be going on in our youth groups.
Bullying is still prevalent as it has always been, but with social media it has increased. Now students can be bullied 24 hours around the clock. 91 percent admit to being a victim of bullying.
2. Texting and social media.
57 percent of teens credit their mobile device with improving their life. They also see it as key to their social life. The average teen spent 31 hours a week online, which is like five hours a day, via a poll done in 2009. I can imagine that number has grown with the infusion of smart phones.
47.4 percent of the students surveyed had sexual intercourse, and out of the 47.4 percent that had sex, 39.8 percent of those students did not use protection. 15.3 percent admitted to having sex with four or more people during their lifetime.
4. Drugs and alcohol.
Statistically, 72 percent of all students will have consumed alcohol by the end of high school. 37 percent have done so before the eighth grade. 6.7 percent of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 have smoked marijuana.
5. Body image.
More than 90 percent of all girls between the ages 15 and 17 want to change their appearance. Body weight is ranking the highest. 13 percent admit to having an eating disorder. Seven out of 10 girls believe they don’t measure up or they’re not good enough concerning their looks, performance in school and relationships. 12 percent of teen boys are using unproven supplements and/or steroids to improve their body image. 44 percent of teens use skipping meals as a way to lose or control their weight.
Students are dealing with depression. From the severe to the not so severe, at any rate, they are dealing with it. The NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) states that one in five teens have experienced depression.
7. The future.
66 percent of teens are afraid of the future or life after graduation.
Now, I’m not a huge statistics type of person, but I do believe it paints somewhat of a picture for you and I to internalize into our own ministries. When I look at the numbers, I think, “How would these numbers fair in my ministry?”
Now, I know that there are more than seven issues, and I also can tell you that these things are happening in my ministry. And if you were to take an honest look into your ministry, you would probably say the same. I hope there isn’t anyone out there thinking that none of this is going on in their ministry.
Praying for students and telling them not to do something is not enough.
So the question is, what are some ways, with a biblical perspective, that we can educate and open up dialogue about these topics with students and parents?
My first suggestion would be to share this with parents and let them know you are here to support students and families that are going through these things.
Hope it helps.