Welcome to parenting in the digital age. The amount of resources that are created and consumed online each day is great - but there is a caveat. In many cases, children learn by modeling. They play dress up, they put on "shows," they try on roles and observe. Yet when parents live their own lives in front of a screen, it is much harder for a young learner to infer what's important.
For The New York Times, Teddy Wayne considers how the influx of digital media has affected the way children learn about the world, for better or for worse.
"The decline of print journalism means that millions of children are eating breakfast at tables without any reading material other than what they bring," Wayne says. "[A] hypothetical 9-year-old may not be inclined to read an op-ed about Syria in the family's copy of the newspaper, but at least that child sees the headline and is reminded of the existence of the outside world."
While children benefit greatly from games and apps catered to their own learning, adults should stay mindful that boys and girls learn by observing, as well.
"To a child, a parent's dog-eared book is a sign of a mind at work and of the personal significance of that volume. A crisp JPEG of the cover design on a virtual shelf, however, looks the same whether it's been reread 10 times or not at all. If, that is, it's ever even seen," Wayne says.
While online Bibles and other resources are a wonderful advantage as they are easily transportable and consumed, it's important to remember what children see. Modeling behavior by reading a "real" Bible, tithing at church instead of online, or writing a friend a letter in lieu of an email could pay dividends to showing - not simply telling - your children what you value.
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Ana Pierce is the Assistant Editor of Vital and lives in Springfield, Missouri. Ana's interests include the church's response to mental health issues and how the growing Millennial population is shaping American culture.