A Peek into Youth Culture… and a New Free Resource

Posted on: 11/15/11 1:45 PM | by Jonathan McKee

As I’m putting the finishing touches on several workshops I’m teaching this weekend (in two different cities), I’m starting to notice one common denominator in every session: understanding youth culture. I’m even teaching one workshop titled, Youth Culture Window.

Let me go on record to clear up any confusion: understanding youth culture is not the most important practice in parenting and youth ministry… but connecting with our teenagers is! And you’ll find that understanding the world of teenagers is a key step to connecting with teenagers.

One of the biggest complaints I hear from teenagers today is, “Adults have no clue what it’s like to be a teenager today.”

And they’re right.

So what should we do? Should we buy all our clothes at Abercrombie or Hollister and try to talk in the most current slang?

Not even close.

Should we download all the latest Lil Wayne and Lady Gaga songs and listen to them day and night?

Please don’t.

We don’t have to start watching Jersey Shore to get current. But we do need to seek to understand the world our teenagers live in. The experts are quite clear on the matter. After the researchers from the Kaiser Foundation completed their huge media survey examining the media habits of young people, they pleaded that parents pay full attention to something that takes up this much time in the lives of young people. The Pediatrics official journal, in their 2009 report on Music, Lyrics and Music Videos, concluded that parents, often unaware of lyrics, etc., should become media literate, setting boundaries and even taking a stand regarding music lyrics. In my parent workshops I plead with parents to do the same. I even talk about how current popular songs might serve as springboards for discussion.

Do you know what your kids are watching and listening to?

Adults need to put forth a little bit of effort into entering the world of youth culture. That’s why I just added yet another resource to help you do that on our www.TheSource4Parents.com site this week—an “Offsite Articles” window that provides parents with links to the articles I’m reading throughout the week.

For years I’ve been constantly trying to keep parents and youth workers updated with the latest research, trends and media messages that young people are absorbing through every pore. Our Youth Culture Window articles, like this week’s article, Social Media Mania are a great source for these updates. This blog is another. And now, as of this past weekend, my web guy posted something we brainstormed months ago—a way of sharing my research with you.

Check it out for yourselves, it’s yet another reason that parents and youth workers will want to frequent www.TheSource4Parents.com.  On any given day you’ll be able to peek at this new “Offsite Articles Jonathan Has Read This Week” box on our front page and see if any of the subjects grab your interest. The box displays the 7 most recent articles I’ve read, and provides a link to an archive of all the articles (starting last week). As I write this, if you pop on www.TheSource4Parents.com right now, you’ll find articles about the highly anticipated Hunger Games movie, parents lying to get underaged kids on Facebook, Teens and Sleep, Porn-Induced Sexual Dysfunction and more.

I hope this is yet another free resource that helps you understand the world of youth culture, connect with teenagers where they are at and engage meaningful conversations.