A new study has shown that digital religion actually complements in-person participation in organized religion and drives millennials towards spirituality in its own unique way.
The trend of digital religion is growing among US and Canadian millennials with many of them seeking guidance through chat groups with pastors, online sermons, and religious content on social media. Online communication has facilitated digital religion to grow and scientists set out to explore if digital technologies facilitate a ‘spiritual revolution’ and if they provide important spiritual and religious spaces for new segments of the population removed from more conventional forms of organized religion.
Researchers found that while digital religion isn’t necessarily attracting a lot of new millennials to participate. While digital religion is a phenomenon among many millennials, it’s not a part of the lives of the vast majority of this demographic. One important finding is that it is making the experience of sizeable minority of the young adult population already involved a lot richer.
Researchers also say that social environment does play an important role and findings indicate that digital religion practices are much more prevalent in the generally more religious U.S. context, compared with the generally more secular Canadian context. Further, digital religion practices are often, but not always, tied to other in-person religious and spiritual activities among millennials.
The study by University of Waterloo sociology professor Sarah Wilkins-Laflamme Digital Religion Among U.S. and Canadian Millennial Adults, was published in the Review of Religious Research.