The demands of parenting this generation of teens are unique. No parents before have had to wrestle with the risks social and digital media use pose to their children. They are simultaneously warned of the dangerous side effects of too much screen time and the hazards of social media on a teen’s mental health while their teens are given screen time in schools and encouraged to use screens for homework. The fear of what digital and social media use potentially expose children to, or take them away from (face-to-face interactions with family and friends, schoolwork, extracurriculars, sleep, etc.) is a pervasive threat for today’s parents.
With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of some positive Catholic resources including some favorites of youth ministers in the Archdiocese to slow your kid’s scroll and turn them towards Christ.
“I use the Hallow app all the time in my family and in youth ministry. With so much noise and distraction in our lives, I find the Hallow app a simple way to carve out a little time for our teens in ministry to listen for the voice of God. I find the Intro to Prayer section for teens to be a great starting point.” -Suzanna DeVeny, Coordinator of Youth Ministry, St. Christopher
With a sleek interface, celebrity narrators, and boundless content, Hallow is a great investment for your teen. The #1 Catholic meditation app has something for every teen and spirituality type. Contemplative? Pray the rosary with Mark Wahlberg, say a pre-game prayer with Brady Quinn and listen to St. Therese’s autobiography read by Sr. Miriam James Heidland. There are reflections on Saints, prayerful meditations, prep for confession, and music playlists specifically designed for ages 14-18. It also includes content focused on mental health that was developed with leading Catholic experts in psychology and pastoral counseling. It covers topics such as managing stress and anxiety, building healthy relationships, and dealing with addictive tendencies. Download here.
Founded in 1985 with the mission to “lead teenagers and their families into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church,” Lifeteen has constantly been evolving to stay abreast of the latest technology and digital trends. Today, Lifeteen offers spiritual guidance, inspiration and teaching through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. The content and design are sleek and edgy and could rival any other mainstream influencers your child may already be following.
To get started—Check out Mark Hart’s 5-minute videos that break down the Gospel each week with energy that could rival any teen, or Ashley Hinojosa’s conversational 3-5 minute videos offering practical advice and encouragement for teens in the trenches striving to be “a better disciple for Christ.” She covers everything from tips for going back to school to thoughts on Harry Styles’ latest album and summer jobs as a form of prayer.
Jonathan Blevins, or Bearded Blevins as he’s known on Twitch, YouTube, etc, has been melding his love for video games with his Masters in Religious Education and 15 years of parish youth ministry work for his new company—Little Flower Media Company. If your teen is a gamer, they will have heard of Tyler Blevins or Ninja, Jonathan’s younger brother who is the biggest Twitch streamer in the world with more than 18 million followers. But Jonathan Blevins likes to talk Catholicism on his Twitch streams. He wrestles with viewers on the big questions in the faith and his following has put him in the top 1% of streamers on Twitch. He has since broadened his work to host several faith-centered podcasts, two talk shows, and much more in the works to come including two television shows that will air on Netflix or Amazon. Your teen can follow Jonathan on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Twitch, YouTube, and TikTok. Find it all on his website.
Damascus Worship is a community of worshippers with the mission to “awaken, empower, and equip an environment of encounter.” Part of a Catholic Missionary movement, they travel throughout the country leading worship at high schools and college campuses. They offer a glimpse of this experience to their followers through short videos on their social channels.
Listen to them on Spotify, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.
Even teens in the flurry of school and extracurricular activities could probably manage at least 3 minutes for prayer—especially if it’s as convenient as an app on their phone. The reflections offered by the app invite you to take a short prayer break with some quiet time reflecting on Scripture passages through a slideshow with pictures and Scripture and return to your day grounded and rejuvenated. Download the app here.
Through 9-minute episodes, this podcast helps teens recenter their hearts and minds on Christ. The daily reflections go through each day’s readings, with a meditation, prayer, contemplation and an inspiring call-to-action for each teen’s day, (ex. Be present to the Lord today. Simply say yes and show up, and let him do the rest). Listen here.
Pray as you go
This app offers daily prayer sessions designed to go with you “wherever you go…particularly whilst traveling to and from work, study, etc.” Each day’s prayer session is around a 10-minute framework to guide personal prayer including music, Scripture, and questions for reflection. Download here.
Video Catechism for Teens
From the Chicago-based Catholic production company Outside da Box comes a video series that breaks down the Catechism with the goal of answering the question, “Why should a teenager care about this?” At the heart of each video will be a point (or points) articulated by the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Since the language used in the catechism wasn’t written with the intent of communicating the faith to a teenage audience, key points may be paraphrased or re-worded in an effort to make it more understandable. The series includes a monthly video along with a discussion guide. Find it here.
Tom Gould aims to share his Catholic faith through humor, artwork, and, as he says, “lame puns” to “make cartoons that are fun for faithful and faithless alike.” Follow him here.
With nearly 3 million views, the YouTube show Catholic Central promises to offer an “enter-forming” (entertaining and informing) trip through 2,000 years of Church history and doctrine. “We’ll talk about faith, prayer, and the Bible with heartfelt insight, animation, and questionable wig choices.”
Katie Prejean McGrady
Known to many teens as the hilarious and heartfelt speaker at Steubenville conferences or Catholic Youth conferences across the country, her Instagram sheds light on the woman she is off the stage sharing her day-to-day faith in a humanizing and humorous way. Read more from her on UTG.
Word on Fire Show Podcast
“I would say The Word on Fire podcast is my favorite of Catholic content out there,” explains Brennan McHugh, coordinator of youth ministry at Shrine of the Little Flower. “I think highly of Bishop Barron, and love his deep faith and how that comes across as he talks about any of the faith. Young people would benefit from his wisdom as he calls all Catholics to a deeper faith and intellectual but also relational understanding of who Jesus is and the Truths of the Church.”
The weekly podcast takes a deep dive into all things faith and culture and answers listeners’ questions on anything related to the Catholic Church. Listen here.
To summarize, Julie Cavanaugh, youth ministry coordinator at St. Patrick Parish explains that it’s important to find resources wherever your teen is. “The best Catholic digital and social content is the one a teen actually uses. I provide our teens with a variety of apps, Instagram, YouTube, even Facebook content to follow, like and subscribe. Whatever platform they spend the most time on should have something Catholic coming across their feed to keep them grounded in Christ and nourished in Spirit.”