Survey finds many Catholics digitally active
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 12/19/2012 -- The Catholic Church should try to strengthen its digital outreach through social media, panelists said at a recent event in Baltimore.
A majority of Catholics in the United States are actively engaged with social media, especially young people, according to Mark Gray.
Mr. Gary is a research associate at Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. He presented the results of the center’s survey on new media at the Baltimore event titled “An Encounter With Social Media: Bishops and Bloggers Dialogue.”
Digital initiatives can reach millions of Catholics, Gray said. He noted that 5% of adult Catholics read about the Church or spiritual matters in blog postings, and 8% of those with a digital device have an app related to Catholicism.
The Church’s online presence went unnoticed by almost half of respondents to the survey, although those who frequently attend Mass also are more aware of the Church online.
Catholic media reaches people who are in the fold of the Church, syndicated columnist Terry Mattingly noted at the event. He argued that by shifting focus, the Church can better attract new adherents, and urged bishops to think about expanding the range of online content to include things such as film review and dating advice.
“The blogs at this point are serving as a form of continuing education and debate forum for the people who care about Catholicism the most,” Mattingly said, according to the Catholic News Agency.
Entertainment is an important component in new media, Gray said. Young people are likely to demand entertainment along with information, the survey suggested.
About a third of survey respondents wanted to read blogs by a bishop or pastor.
The Church should use social media more aggressively and target audiences that want more entertainment with their information, said journalist and blogger Mary DeTurris Poust.
“Today, like it or not, I think Facebook is the new parish hall,” she said.
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