Mar 23, 2022

The Future of Kids' Ministry


What's in the future for today's kids?  The experts at Kidscreen magazine recently released some interesting insight about what's in the near future for kids. 

Online, VR gaming.  There are currently over 474 million people participating in online gaming. Trends show this will increase to 577 million by 2024. 

A big part of online gaming will be virtual reality.  Virtual reality headsets will reach $5 billion in sales by 2023. Experts say in the next few years it will be on every kid's Christmas wish list.  

Metaverses will morph into Metasocieties.  A metaverse is a virtual world where kids can explore and create their own virtual worlds, games and brands.  Roblox is an example of this.  The popular online gaming platform has over 43 million daily users.

Metasocieties are communities that are created by kids who are focused on social issues.  It will become hubs where kids can discuss what is important to them. 

“Kids content will become democratized because kids from all over the world will be connected in a way that defies geographic location." Their real-life values will be reflected in these online communities, and as people connect, they will nurture and educate each other and build societies from scratch.                

Emma Chiu, global director at trend research firm Wunderman Thompson Intelligence

Interactive audio content.  Since the pandemic hit, the demand for audio-only programming has skyrocketed.  It is now expected to reach $76 billion by 2028.  A big reason for the increase is parents who are looking for content that will give their kids' eyes a rest.  Podcasts will be a major factor in this.  Companies like Disney, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network all created their first kids' podcasts last year.

But audio programs are currently passive experiences.  The next big step for podcasting to kids will be to make it fully interactive.  It will bring content that lets kids use their words to influence and become a part of stories, games and other content.

Robots.  Robots are becoming very popular.  They can currently be seen in popular TV shows like Doug Unplugs and Annie & Carol.  They are also taking over shelf space in stores with robots like Dream Labs' Cozmo.  Kids' companies around the world are starting to create robots that teach and entertain kids.

Personalized AI. 
The next big step for robots is making them capable of understanding and connecting with children on a deeper level.  
 
For ed tech companies, having a virtual companion that can encourage kids and help them learn in a personalized way is the key to making education more meaningful.  Tech has struggled with kids’ pronunciations and fluency, but imagine a world where kids—even preschoolers who haven’t learned to read—can ask their devices about facts and feelings.  It can be a co-parent and help children learn everything from math to literacy at their own pace.”
Neal Shenoy, CEO and co-founder of BEGiN.
 
These are all interesting, ground-breaking concepts that will affect children's ministries sometime in the future.

Imagine...
 
Kids learning the stories of the Bible through virtual reality.  It could put kids right in the middle of David facing Goliath, Peter trying to walk on water, crossing the Red Sea with the Israelites and seeing Jesus feeding the 5,000.  
 
Metasocieties being used for small groups where kids can learn and apply God's Word to their life (under the supervision of two approved adult volunteers).

Creating podcasts that help ministries connect with parents.  Interactive podcasts that extend the lesson into the weekdays for kids and their parents.
 
Interactive robots that are programmed to teach kids God's Word, help kids learn Bible verses, etc.
 
Sounds crazy doesn't it? But that's the way most technology is viewed when first introduced.  It will be very interesting to see how this progresses.  

Your turn. Do you see this happening? What other ways would you use this technology to help disciple children and families? How else would you use this technology to partner with parents? Share your thoughts and insights in the comment section below.