The culture that students live in today is vastly different than the one that many of us grew up in, but parents and student leaders must be aware of the trends and movements that are happening in this culture. One of these trends is the popular media streaming service, Twitch. In this video, Ben Trueblood explains what Twitch is and why it could be having a tremendous impact on your students.
Ben Trueblood serves as the Director of Student Ministry for LifeWay Christian Resources and has seventeen years of student ministry experience, fourteen of which were spent in the local church as a student pastor. In his book Student Ministry That Matters Ben shares what it takes to build and lead a truly healthy student ministry. And check out Ben’s newest book Within Reach about keeping students connected so they’re more likely to stay involved in church after they graduate.
The entire video is above, and the complete transcript is below.
One cultural movement that I see happening among teenagers right now that I think parents and student leaders need to recognize is a certain trend in media consumption. Now, before you say, “I already know about Facebook and I already know about Instagram and I already know about all of these platforms.” I want you to consider one, that as I’ve talked to a lot of student pastors and even more parents don’t recognize, is the media platform called Twitch.
This is a cultural movement that’s happening right now among teenagers. The basic premise of Twitch is I log onto the website and watch other people play video games and the person that I’m watching playing a video game interacts with people who type in the chat. And it develops a little community on the channel.
Now some of you might think that is the weirdest I’ve ever heard. Why would someone go watch someone else play a video game?
One, they might like video games. Alright? And if we’re talking about gaming in general, it is something that transcends all of the subcultures that exist in your student ministry. The football player is playing video games, the band girl is playing video games, the cheerleader is playing. It’s no longer just the nerd that sits down in the basement that plays, though they still do. Alright?
Gaming is transcending all of these subcultures that exist in your student ministry. When they go on and watch Twitch it’s not just about watching the video game. I believe, it is another subtle hint of the desire that your teenagers have for community in their life. They want to be a part of this certain streamer’s community. They see themselves and the people that watch this certain person as a part of their community.
That’s something that as parents and student ministry leaders, we need to recognize. It’s almost as though they’re screaming out to us, “I need community and it’s not being fulfilled in these certain places, and so I’m going to go somewhere to find it.”
The other thing that I find interesting about this platform, is that – say they’re a football fan. The chances are that them watching their favorite football team play on TV and them actually being able to go do what they watch is really, really small. They’re not going to be an NFL player more than likely. But when they log on and they watch this video game, they can actually emulate this “professional” and do what they see.
I want you to remember those things and then, just as a side note, here’s something of a caution. Because it’s not just video games that they would tune in to watch. That’s why I refer to Twitch as a media platform. Anyone at any time can get on and broadcast anything they want. They can talk about whatever they want. They can show whatever they want. So there is some caution. Yes, there’s guidelines, but you know how guidelines work on the internet, right?
I think it’s something that you need to educate yourself as a parent and as a student pastor on. Yes, on the community side of things and what can we do in our church and homes to fulfill the longing for community that ever teenager has. And at the same time, be aware of this cultural phenomenon so that you can have conversations about what your students, that are either in your church or in your home, are being exposed to.
Like what you hear? Read more from Ben in his other LifeWay Voices posts: