March 2011: The Digital Child in Christian Community

Media and Formation
How many media gadgets do you use in the course of a day? Television, Desktop, Laptop, Smartphone, Mp3, etc… The lines of our work are blurred at times, since we now have the ability to work from planes, trains, and automobiles. When it comes to our children, we worry about the predator on the other end of that technology, as well as the real possibility of cyber-bullying. What about the development of the brain in the early years of life? What effect, if any, is media having on the developing brain of a child? How does this play into our baptismal covenant to "nurture one another in the Christian faith"?

The average eight year old is exposed to some form of media nearly fifty-six hours a week, with thirty seven of those hours in actual media use. This does not include texting or talking on the telephone, and includes less than five hours spent on print media. [Kaiser: Generation M2] Add it up. How many hours a week do our children spend actively building relationships with peers, family members, or in the gathered community of Christ without the use of media? In Jesus’ childhood, we can assume that he grew up in a culture where children were formed and educated through relationship and face-to-face communication. Do you believe our children deserve similar healthy relationship and communication?

While adults make a conscious decision to use media, we also possess fully developed brains. Children in the formational stages of life are going to be formed, but it is up to us as to how that is going to happen. If a child is exposed to media fifty six hours a week, this will most certainly have a bearing on the child’s formation. In the baptismal covenant, we promise to "surround these persons with a community of love and forgiveness… we are one in Christ Jesus". A community of love and forgiveness requires relationship that extends beyond texting and social networking. Children need our time, our touch, and our attention – the kind that is achieved "in person" – in order to develop spiritually and cognitively.






Equipped to guide our children through the digital age!
A few ideas from Melanie

There are some strategies that we can use to encourage and support a healthy school year for children in the nursery, preschool, Sunday school, and in other areas of ministry with children.

  • Modeling— What are children learning through observing our behavior? How do we, as adults, use media? How do we interact with one another? How do we create healthy boundaries?
  • Communication— Are our children learning healthy face-to-face communication? How can we be more fully engaged in our encounters with children?
  • Relationships— Are children building deep relationships with others?
  • Information— Are adults staying informed on the newest media developments? Do you participate in the newest developments so that you can guide children well?
  • Community— Are you engaged in conversation with others in the congregation, the community, and the schools to support one another in the formation of children?


For a PDF download of this newsletter:
The Digital Child in Christian Community




For Further Reading

The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood
Quiet moments are not just blank spaces in the day
Available from

Tech Yes, Tech Noby John Haney and Marcia Stoner
Using technology faithfully with tweens
Available from

Related Resources

Children and Media
Strategies for raising children in a digital age

Media’s Impact on Children
Understanding media’s role in childhood development


Discipleship Ministries Ministry with Children

Ministry with Children Blog

GBGM Serving for Children

Categories: Ministry with Children Newsletter