It Doesn’t Just Have to be Entertainment

3119433406 5d2daf6222 - It Doesn't Just Have to be Entertainment

Turn Entertainment into Enrichment with God in Mind

Have you ever considered directing your child’s entertainment into an enrichment experience that naturally leads to talk of God?

“Today I earned the RCXD on Arms Race!”

“I enchanted my Diamond Chestplate to Bane of Arthropods!”

Admittedly, these exclamations from your child sound like undecipherable mumbo-jumbo. But consider listening when your child tells you about his last videogame session. Don’t shut down this byway of communication.  After all, his eager description is the seed by which you can mold his experience of solo entertainment into enrichment—and a pathway to contemplate God.

Turn entertainment into enrichment that leads to God.

For example, say your child just played (for the 100th time) Call of Duty II like so many preteens do. Enrichment may look like having a WWII documentary queued up that evening. Alternatively, you could initiate a dinner conversation about the war in which a family member served.

Maybe your son just built a fire in Minecraft. That can lead to talking about your upcoming family camping trip, fire safety, and protecting God’s beautiful outdoors.

Then, a week or month later–after his 130th session–you can revisit key elements of that war video or camping trip. This brings it to his mind again and helps him to retain it over the long term.

Similarly, when he mentions excavating iron, gold and diamond in Minecraft, you can show him the Periodic Table of elements. Ask him on what day of creation God likely made all of these elements. You might mention that “some of what God created on Day One is what we are now made of—physical matter-energy, amazingly arranged in atoms and molecules that ultimately comprise our material bodies.”(1)  But you needn’t memorize that specific line! Find a relevant science fact that you can easily retain and share. This way, you will both learn something. This is Bible and science extracted from a Minecraft experience. It’s relevant to something fun the child is doing, but it also brings him into a new level of awareness about the game’s contents.

Useful Lessons Tied to God

God has allowed the creation of videogames. You have allowed videogames into your home. God cares what your child is learning through gaming; so do you.  By turning entertainment into enrichment, your child will learn useful lessons. These lessons will help him see the ways of God in his world of fun.

For ideas about turning your child’s  entertainment toward God’s purposes for their lives, read https://www.christiantechkids.com/consecrate-some-screen-time-to-god/

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(1) Institute for Creation Research, Acts & Facts, May 2013, p. 11.

Initial Post 5/5/2013 updated for clarity 12/1/2021.

Photo Ángelo González via Compfight

Add a Biblical Insight: Turn a Child’s Anecdote into a Deeper Exchange to Encourage Biblical Thinking

Parent Encouraging Biblical Thinking at the Grand Canyon 300x400 - Add a Biblical Insight: Turn a Child’s Anecdote into a Deeper Exchange to Encourage Biblical ThinkingAdd a biblical insight to conversations with your child as they share their online experiences.

For today learn one thing that happened in your child’s online universe. Ask “So what happened today when you were online with your friends/at school?” or “What interesting/funny thing happened when you were playing Animal Crossing with your brother?”

If your talkative child shares an anecdote, ask some version of “What did you think about that?” to go deeper. To your reticent child, “Can you tell me a little more about that?” may encourage them to open up more.  If they know you will really listen to their answer, they are more likely to give you a real anecdote.

Thank them simply for sharing and then offer a relevant insight or explanation to encourage deeper processing of their experience.

Later that evening, how can you revisit that conversation to encourage biblical thinking?  Can you offer a biblically-related insight tomorrow?  If one does not come to mind, plan to spend 15 minutes of your free time—maybe when you’d normally check Facebook—to find one. Start by looking up a relevant word in the concordance at the back of your Bible or using an online search engine.

For example, perhaps your younger child saw his first fighting game on Roblox, or your tween saw a bloody game played by his older brother. They share some of its mechanics with you.  You ask them their impression of it—or their impression of it on themselves. Were they surprised, excited or fretting having seen it?

After the initial exchange described above, you may have looked up “fight” in a concordance which offers you James 4:2, among other verses. You can share your own values, if you wish—whether hawk or dove—but you can now also add a biblical insight to encourage biblical thinking.

“Did you know that the Bible actually talks about why people fight? It tells us in the Book of James that fights and quarrels are caused by the desires we have in our heart—by the ‘desires that battle within [us]’ (James 4:2).  We often want what others have, or we want to win no matter what!”

This is likely to elicit a response from your child. He may share a time he really wanted to win, or times his opponent was intent on winning no matter what.  Your conversation may explore various desires he has in his heart, or desires he wishes he didn’t have. So much to explore here!

Maybe you’ll stop there…depending on your child’s interest in the topic.  Or, you can take it a step further if the first biblical revelation didn’t elicit interest: “The Book of James also says that we can ask God for what we want—and He’ll give it to us as long as we ask for the right reasons—like because we want to help someone else.” See where that takes the conversation.

At this point, you started the extended exchange by eliciting a notable online experience. After they shared, you offered your own insight. You followed up later with a biblical insight. Now you can bookend your comments by returning to something they told you, some earlier point they made, and affirm their thoughts, remarking constructively and authentically about them.

This is a natural way to encourage biblical thinking as it relates to your child’s online experiences.  You have explored his online experiences, learned more about his inner thought life, offered your own or your family’s values, given a truth-based connection to the Bible, and reaffirmed your child in a sincere way.

Next time he talks about online battles (but not every time…that would be tedious, unless he enjoys it), you can take it a step deeper—even if it requires a few more minutes of your own research.  After all, we can always learn more about the Bible.  Adding a biblical insight to conversations with your child as they share their online experiences can help you both.

By the time he’s in high school, you may find yourself investing in books like “War: Four Christian Views” (Clouse) or “War and Christian Ethics” (Holmes), prepared to take your initial conversation begun so long ago in other rhetorical directions.

Pressing the Reward Button for Positive Feedback: Part 2

In a similarly named post, I mentioned the repetitive, intangible rewards children “earn” through playing video games.  Their desire for positive feedback and rewards becomes incited to the point of obsession. What if, instead, they became more interested in gaining positive feedback from following God and engaging with the people God made for that purpose?

It is not too early to nudge your child toward pleasing God through loving and serving people and not toward serving a virtual technological scorekeeper. After all, Ephesians 5:30 reminds us that “we are members of his body.”  We will want to train our children to act like it.

Offering Positive Feedback Examples of the Human Variety

Think about the amount of time in a week your child interacts with technology versus with you (or others).   If human contact is inadequate, they may become more accustomed to satisfying their gadget’s commands and goals. They may be less inclined to serve their parents and other people for God’s purposes.  Consider if, in your child, positive feedback garnered from technology diminishes their desire for positive feedback from family and friends.  The people around them may become more unnecessary than people are supposed to be.

You can offer positive feedback of the tangible human variety. You can be a source that satisfies their innate need for attention and Continue reading