Add 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.