One of the really interesting things coming out of this latest CYIADA survey is a really amusing (but kind of sad) disparity between what people know when asked, and what they understand and do.
Take, for example, e-mail & SMS communications.
Respondents were asked how much the youth they lead use mobile phones/e-mail services. In one case, a respondent said that “nearly all” youth used mobile devices, whilst “about half” of them had an e-mail address or used MSN/other IM platforms. Frequency of use was not polled.
The same respondent, when asked about their existing communications, said that whilst they sent out e-mail messages, they did not use SMS at all.
There are less cases in the opposite direction, which is encouraging. There does appear to be an underreporting of mobile usage occurring in some instances, but this is only verifiable where multiple respondents from one church give data. Generally, the higher figure will be accepted as authoritative, as higher figures are — for the most part — those supplied by more knowledgeable respondents, measured according to exposure to podcasting/use of video, and awareness of existing church web activity.
Either alarmingly or encouragingly (encouraging given the state of some of these websites), respondents’ awareness of their church’s web properties is, speaking generally, quite low. This is not only for reasons of stale content — some websites, despite aesthetic deficiencies, have up to date content but apparently little in the way of visitors. This could be taken to suggest that the content is up to date but remains irrelevant!
One website visited had as its most recent forum post a declaration that it had been three years since the last post was made on that forum.
Youth websites have been slightly under-reported but not significantly so, and this may be attributed to the wording of this question: “Does your youth group have a website (separate from your church site)”. There may be instances where there is a website separate in design and maintenance but existing under the same domain name in a folder or something, where this has not been reported. One or two cases of this have been detected.
Further, there was no question on Myspace/SocNet presence (for reasons of simplicity as much as anything — the aim of the survey was emphatically not to confuse!). Usage of these is not even moderately common, but enough are popping up to make me wish I’d at least left space for it somewhere (“Other web sites of note:” type question).
Still got about a third of responses to process still. This will be reposted at CYIADA.com when I setup a blog there (probably this weekend, or early next week… depends somewhat on what’s happening in Fiji the next couple of days)