Digital Playground

Today's kids have access to a huge array of online "digital playgrounds."  These online playgrounds give kids the opportunity to explore, interact and connect with other kids.

According to Peter Robinson, a kids' media specialist, here are some of the places where kids are engaging in online play.

This includes kids up to the age of 16. 

Smart phones - 50% of kids in the US have a smartphone by the age of 10.

62% engage with Netflix.

55% engage with Disney.

54% engage with YouTube.

60% engage with Minecraft.

59% engage with Roblox.

43% engage with Fortnite.

When it comes to social media...

59% use TikTok.

50% use Snapchat.

47% use Instagram.

Here are the top social media genres for kids.

Music - 50%

Gaming - 48%

Hobbies and interest - 36%

Education - 35%

Art - 30%

Memes - 25%

Challenges - 24%

Social media is where kids go for learning and entertainment.  Here is the path that Gen Alpha takes from discovering a social media item / program to becoming a fan and engaging with it.

Step One - kids discover a show on a social media platform such as TikTok.  

Step Two - kids watch it on the streaming.

Step Three - kids find the niche communities on social spaces like Discord, Reddit and TikTok.

Step Four - kids build their own narrative in gaming platforms like Roblox.

Step Five - kids share their love via memes and filters on TikTok, Snapchat and Whatsapp.

Step Six - kids buy the merch.

It is important for us to understand the "playgrounds" of today's kids so we can connect with them and be a relevant part of their life. 

When we take the time to enter their world and engage them in their playground, they will respond to us.

I remember one Sunday morning when I walked into one of our classrooms and there was a boy sitting in the back of the room.  You could tell he was not having a good day.  He was all frowns.  I asked the teacher what was happening and she said he would not participate in any of the activities, was bothering those around him and wasn't listening to any instructions from the teacher. 

I said, "let me see what I can do."  I walked back and sat down beside him.  I tried to talk with him about why he was causing a scene?  He wouldn't give me the time of day.  He turned his face away from me.

I finally decided to try one more thing to get him to talk with me. 

I looked at him and said, "Do you like video games and computer games?  Do you have a game system?"

He quickly turned to me and said "Yes. I have a PS5 system."  We spent the next 5 minutes talking about his video game system and favorite games. He now had a smile on his face.

After the five minutes ended,  I stood up and said, "It's been great talking with you.  I am going to go up front and join the kids who are singing to Jesus. You can stay here or you can join me up front."

I went up to the front and joined the kids who were singing a praise song.  In about a minute, I felt a tug on my shirt.  It was the boy from the back of the room.  He joined in the singing and acted great for the rest of the class time.  

Why did he respond to me?  It was because I showed interest in his "digital playground."  

Want to make a big impact on the kids in your ministry?   

Are you willing to learn about their digital playgrounds and engage with them about it?  

We know that when kids know you really care about them they will open their hearts to hear what you have to say.

One of the best ways to do this is to enter their digital playground.