The Word, the Web, and the Youth 4

Characteristics of Filipino Youth in Relation to their Internet Use

In looking at these popular websites, it can be gleaned that Filipino youth nowadays are looking for interactivity—they want to participate in the creation of their virtual world. Apparently, they do not want blind acceptance of what is offered to them, they want to have a choice on what messages, tools, and items they will include in their online identities. This is especially true in the case of Friendster. In the case of online chat, the youth can explore different areas of their personality. In fact, they can even mask their true personalities and take on different identities online. Chat protocols may even be ways in which young people can explore their sexuality. They may even engage in cybersex in these chat protocols. This is especially true among homosexual young people (Lanuza, 2000).

There is an adverse effect generated by the mass media, however. Too often, young people want quick fixes and hurried solutions to the problems life poses to them. Hence, they would not want to spend a great deal of time and effort in coming up with excellent solutions. They might simply go for the easy way in achieving their goals (Sebald, 1994).

Furthermore, because of the overpowering bulk of information they have to absorb, they tend to exhibit the symptoms of the “hurried child syndrome” (Elkind, 1986) and fail to enjoy their childhood as they should.

Filipino young people are highly visual. In this regard, the popularity of Youtube testifies to the effectiveness of videos for the Filipino youth. Through blogs, they can express their thoughts and their ideas about what is going on in their lives and in their society. They can also read their friends’ blogs and get updated about what is happening in the lives of their peers. In their blogs, they can also post their favorite videos, songs, pictures and other items of interest to them.

In reaching out to this segment of the population, therefore, a mindset that takes into account the things they enjoy and what medium is effective for them would be necessary. Toral advices entrepreneurs and businesses to: “integrate the youth’s favorite Internet features into their business.” Churches and Christian groups would also do well in heeding her advice. After all, we are in the business of propagating the gospel and advancing God’s kingdom in our country. This involves uploading videos that present biblical themes and stories and integrating chat support. Interactivity is the name of the game and those who are promoting the message of the Bible should use this important feature.

Young people will also listen to other young people as the popularity of social networking sites would attest to. Hence, testimonials and online social networking should occur between youth who are oriented with the Bible and those that are not. This way, young people themselves would engage in healthy dialogues regarding the message of the Bible. They would be influencing their peers in their own age groups in reading the Bible and exploring the messages that it presents.

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