Healthy Electronic Communications | Youth Safety #9

Healthy Electronic Communications | Youth Safety #9



hey everybody this is Steve and while smartphones and social media make it easier to connect with young people they also present risks that we need to address to keep kids safe in this video we're going to explore the six principles that guide electronic communications under the policies electronic communications are a huge part of the way we interact so it's no surprise that this is the longest video in this youth safety series but first if you haven't yet remember to like this video and subscribe to our channel so you never miss out on great Orthodox Christian content alright let's get started in the new policies the phrase electronic communications encompasses everything from simple text messages to private or direct messages on your favorite social media app they're such a big part of the way that we interact and communicate on the daily basis so it makes sense that they'll have a place in youth ministry programs and events the trick is if we're going to use electronic communications to interact with children and youth then we have to do so while still keeping our vision for ministry in mind we have to use electronic communications in a way that helps us introduce young people to Christ and challenge them to live out their relationship with the Lord every day in a way that ensures that every youth ministry program and event is a safe space where young people can encounter Christ this is really hard to turn into a set of easy do's and dont's instead we've boiled all of this down into six basic principles to keep in mind as you use electronic communications to interact with young people understanding how exactly to put these principles into practice is something that you'll learn with experience and by always asking questions of your supervisor and other church leadership it's really important to remember whenever you have a doubt about anything related to youth ministry especially questions about keeping kids safe ask your supervisor your program director your parish priest whoever it is because we're all here to make sure that you can grow into the best possible youth worker that you can be so let's dive into these six basic principles about how you can responsibly use electronic communications first you need to be mindful of both the medium and the message electronic communications can be great to organize an event or let people know about a last-minute change in the program a quick text or group chat can let everyone know what's going on in an instant but things get trickier when we start getting into one-on-one conversations with young people especially when the substance of that conversation starts getting more complicated ministry should be happening in the right place and should involve the right people it's better to have in-person interactions with young people in the safety of a well-organized youth ministry program or event rather than private interactions over your phone which let's be honest can run the risk of becoming overly casual and if we're not careful maybe even inappropriate generally speaking we prefer the medium of ministry to be face to face to be personal in the context of the church rather than hidden away in someone's direct messages on a social media and we prefer that the right people are involved in the right conversations so that the right message is communicated for example perhaps a teenager asks you a tricky question about the Church's teachings and you're not quite sure of the answer it's okay to admit that you don't know and it's smart to connect that team with someone who is theologically trained and who can answer the question or maybe a goy in stays after Goya and reveals a personal trauma that requires sensitive pastoral care well someone who is trained in pastoral care should be the one guiding her through that life situation or perhaps you witness or hear someone on your basketball team talk about self-harm a trained mental health counselor should be the individual guiding that player through counselling so again you need to be mindful of how you communicate both the medium because in person during a program or event is better than privately over a phone and the message because we want to make sure that young people are getting the right guidance from the right people the second basic principle is that you need to maintain proper and healthy boundaries of course to do that we all need to be clear on what exactly these boundaries are to begin with when you're a youth worker there's an inherent imbalance in your relationship with a child or youth you're a teacher you're a guide you're a coach you're a mentor but you're not equals who can be friends like you could be with another adult so you need to be very careful about how you interact with the young people in your care that means being mindful of what you're saying and when you're saying it it may be fine to text a close friend in the middle of the night for example but you don't want to be texting a child or youth in the middle of the night and it may be fine to give your number to a new friend you make or be the first one to reach out in a private message but you don't want to give your number to a child or youth or be the first one to reach out if a child or youth wants to reach out with you that's fine and then it's your job as a youth worker to make sure that you're respecting healthy boundaries and communicating in a way that's safe and healthy the third basic principle is that you need to be transparent I think we all realize that we're more likely to make mistakes when we think no one is looking that risk is especially present with electronic communications and is probably why people tend to be much worse to each other when they think they're anonymous hiding behind a screen this is one of the reasons we'd rather have ministry interactions happen in person during the youth ministry program or event where there's proper supervision and things are out in the open as part of the church community but we can make sure that transparency is a part of our electronic communications as well for example we should use group chats rather than individual or private chats we should keep parents informed about the kinds of information we're sharing with their kids and if you ever receive something questionable or inappropriate from a child or youth you should immediately let your supervisor know the fourth basic principle is that you need to know your limits a little self-knowledge and common sense goes a long way when we're trying to use electronic communications in a safe and healthy way for example you shouldn't be having conversations for which you're not prepared if you don't really know theology then you shouldn't be trying to teach theology if you're not trained or experienced in offering pastoral guidance then you shouldn't be doing that either and you should avoid having long one-on-one text conversations someone maybe even the young person you're talking to can easily misinterpret that interaction these conversations should be had in person in a group setting out in the open the fifth basic principle is that you need to be a christ-centered mentor remember throughout everything we do as youth workers we need to keep our fundamental vision of ministry in mind we're here to create Christ centered effective and transformational ministry for the young people in our care we're here to introduce young people to Christ and challenge them to live out their relationship with the Lord every day of course that means we need to be careful of the way we interact with the young people in our care but it also impacts the way we interact with anyone and everyone when it comes to things like social media for example we need to be mindful of what we're posting and sharing and if the kinds of comments were writing and if someone else connects us with or tags us in something inappropriate we need to distance ourselves from that and tell that person not to do it again finally the sixth basic principle is that you need to keep in mind that personal electronic communications differ from institutional ones many camps and parish programs have their own social media accounts if that's the case we need to make sure that we're using those institutional accounts appropriately remember when it comes to our private accounts we should not be initiating follows and friend requests with children and youth though we can respond to those requests when we receive them our institutional accounts shouldn't be ways to get around that the social media accounts of our youth programs and events shouldn't be ways for us to access the photos and posts of young people that haven't reached out to us on our personal accounts our institutional accounts should be about communicating with young people through public channels rather than potentially giving adults access to young people so one more time here are the six basic principles that we should keep in mind when determining how we can best use electronic communications one be mindful of both the medium and the message to maintain proper and healthy boundaries 3 be transparent for know your limits 5 be a christ-centered mentor 6 keep in mind that personal electronic communications are different from institutional ones and remember if you ever have any questions about how to apply these principles in a particular situation reach out to your supervisor or other church leadership for help and guidance following these six basic principles will help us ensure that all electronic communications are healthy and help connect young people to Christ and I hope you'll join us in making sure that every youth ministry program and event is a safe space where young people can encounter the Lord a safe space where young people can be the bee and live orthodoxy in the next episode we'll wrap up this series by covering what you can do to create safe ministry spaces wherever you might be remember for more information about the policies for the safety of children and youth please visit go arch org slash safety that's go arch org slash safety and please make sure to share this video it's important that we spread the word about youth safety to as many people as possible

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1 thought on “Healthy Electronic Communications | Youth Safety #9

  1. Texting and social media are a big part of how we communicate with young people. Here's how we can do so in a safe and Christ-centered way.

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