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Millennials adopt digital worship, however, not at the trouble of IRL faith

(RNS) No few millennials was initially introduced to personal technology maintaining their tamagotchis during recess. Only later did the dot-com revolution, smartphones and social media marketing invade all of these lives, from relationships to health to music and faith. Today, meditation podcasts, TikTok sermons and livestreams of Friday (Jumah) prayers are at everyones fingertips.

A report out of Canada shows that this last generation to see a smartphone-free childhood continues to be keeping one foot firmly planted in real life at least with regards to religion.

The analysis, led by University of Waterloo sociologist Sarah Wilkins-Laflamme, discovered that a big minority of millennials in the usa and Canada (32%) turns to digital religious or spiritual activities on at the very least a monthly basis. But only 5% said they achieve this without participating in in-person types of religion or spirituality monthly or even more.

Generally, folks are both involved with person and supplement that through digital religion, explained Wilkins-Laflamme.

The findings will comfort faith leaders who worry that technology will displace religiosity, said Pauline Cheong, a professor at Arizona State University who researches religion and communication technologies but wasnt mixed up in Canadian study. (Digital religion) isn’t a disruption or huge tear in the social fabric, said Cheong. There are a great number of savvy religious users deploying it to check existing ties (to religion).

Sarah Wilkins-Laflamme. Courtesy photo

Sarah Wilkins-Laflamme. Courtesy photo

A millennial herself, Wilkins-Laflamme attempt to gauge from what extent her generation, that is less inclined to take part in organized religion than previous generations, engages with religion online. She surveyed 2,514 respondents in March 2019. (The analysis, therefore, will not account for the way the pandemic could have changed millennials digital habits throughout a time when many houses of worship went online.)

The entire takeaway for me personally was that digital religion happens to be a thing, but its something just a chunk of the (millennial) population does, said Wilkins-Laflamme.

Millennials also take part in digital religion to varying degrees. Wilkins-Laflamme left this is of digital religion largely around respondents; it might include anything from utilizing a Bible app to watching a spirituality-themed Instagram reel. Forty-one percent of U.S. respondents reported passively consuming any type of religious or spiritual digital content at least one time per month, while only 32% of U.S. respondents took enough time to create about religion or spirituality on social media marketing monthly.

Millennials in Canada, where in fact the population is less religious overall, were active at lower rates, with 29% consuming digital religious content and 17% posting it.


RELATED: Houses of worship grapple with the continuing future of their online services


Its not yet clear whether Gen Z, that are more digitally native than millennials, will take part in real-world religion just as much as their elders. Paul McClure, a sociologist who studies religion and technology at the University of Lynchburg, applauded Wilkins-Laflammes study but noted that their own research implies that greater Internet use is connected with lower degrees of religiosity.

Photo by Nathan Mullet/Unsplash/Creative Commons

Photo by Nathan Mullet/Unsplash/Creative Commons

His latest study, published in June, discovered that among U.S. youth ages 13 to 19 years, increased screen time is negatively connected with religious commitment, even though their parents are highly religious. We can not say for certain that screen-based media is actively making adolescents less religious, McClures study states, nonetheless it is clear that screen time either displaces or substitutes for religious belief, identity and practice among adolescents from religious families.

Cheong agrees that while millennials are benefiting from new virtual resources, digital advances alone wont be adequate to interest younger generations. Continue, religious organizations and leaders should do what they are able to to keep up and sustain the trust, to cultivate healthy relationships, she said.

That could mean attempting to bypass their smartphones and getting teenagers involved face-to-face. But Wilkins-Laflammes study shows that any religious leader thinking about connecting with both Gen Zers or millennials must take digital religion seriously. Religious groups who dont have an online business will really have a problem with those two generations, she said.

Prior to the Trendis really a collaborative effort between Religion News Service and theAssociation of Religion Data Archivespermitted through the support of theJohn Templeton Foundation. See other Prior to the Trend articleshere.


RELATED: How Americas youth lost its religion in 1990s


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