Aug 18, 2017

How Gen Z is Changing Television as We Know It

I remember the days when TV's were part of a large, cabinet-like console.  And there was no remote control.  I was the remote control.  I had to get up and change the channel by turning the knob.  Which wasn't too big a problem, since there were only 3 to 4 channels.  Maybe 5, if the weather was right and I titled the rabbit ears that had aluminum foil on them just the right way.  And TV went off at midnight.  They played the national anthem and then it went static until the next morning.  As TV's progressed, they moved out of the furniture console and stood alone.  But they had a big back and weighed a ton.  Especially the large screens, which were large, but clunky.  Standard definition was the only option.

Later HD was introduced and TV's began to get thinner and thinner.  Kids who saw an older TV would ask what was on the back of the TV....not knowing that TV's used to be very thick and heavy.

Today, TV's come in ultra thin sizes and the screens continue to get larger and larger while the clarity gets better and better.  There are hundreds of channels to choose from.  And if you miss a show, you can always watch it on demand.

Yes, TV has changed.  Both physically and programmatically.  But the changes are just getting started.  When you consider factors like evolving technology, relevant programming and the rapidly expanding internet, it is obvious change is continuing to accelerate.  Futurists say by 2020, TV may not look like TV as we know it.  The viewing habits and expectations of Gen Z are set to shape the future of TV.

Here are 3 ways Gen Z is changing television as we know it...and what children's ministries should do as well.

Interaction.
Gen Z expects to interact with TV in a way their Millennial parents didn't.  In apps like Minecraft, kids create worlds from scratch.  With Musical.ly, they create their own videos.  They participate in choose-your-own adventures, explore in virtual reality and customize their apps and video games.

Kids don't have the opportunity for control in much of their life and they love the control and creativity these formats allow them to have.  As they grow up, they won't let that go.  They will demand content that they can give input into and help create.

Children's ministries that want to connect with Gen Z and reach them with content, must shift toward interactive lessons that provide kids with the opportunity to give input and help create the lesson agenda and flow.

Fresh Content. 
Gen Z expects fresh content.  Their favorite YouTubers post weekly, daily and even hourly.  Information comes and goes by the minute and in many cases, by the second.   Once Gen Z kids move past their preschool years, they have a very low tolerance for reruns.  Gen Z is also very aware of current trends and know when content is outdated.  Which can happen rapidly.

Children's ministries must stay up-to-date with what is happening in the culture and provide relevant and fresh content.  Up to this point, we have made references that something is outdated in the church world if it is from a decade ago.  It's time to rethink that and realize something from a month ago may be outdated.  

This doesn't mean we change our message.  We are anchored to the truth of God's Word.  But we must also be geared for the times.  The timeless message of God's Word must be presented with timely methods.

Diversity. 
Gen Z is the most diverse generation ever.  They are diverse in ethnicity, family make-up and much more.  Content that captures their attention must reflect diversity.  It must be a mirror of how they look, act and feel in this area.

Children's ministries that want to be effective must be diverse as well.  Places where all people are welcomed.  Places that mirror the group that will gather at the throne of God one day.  Kids from every tribe, nation and language. 

In many instances, television content is a reflection of the culture as a whole.  The 3 insights above give us a good picture of the changes Gen Z is bringing to not only television, but to the culture as a whole.  Ministries that will continue to be effective will be those who adapt as well.

Here are some questions to talk through with your team:
  • Are we giving kids the opportunity to participate and give feedback in our lessons?
  • Are our lessons interactive?
  • How can we give kids the opportunity to help create and plan their experience at church?
  • What are some ways we can keep our ministry fresh in kids' eyes?
  • Does our ministry reflect the diversity of Gen Z?  How can we improve this?

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