Share this story

Digital Discipleship for Kids

By Sheri Wohlfert | Image By Getty Images/Rudzhan Nagiev | December 2022

Digital Discipleship for Kids

“Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; See, I am doing something new!”(Is 43:18-19)

As we navigate the changes left in the wake of the pandemic, this verse from the prophet Isaiah brings comfort. From the way we shop, to the ways we socialize, things have changed. Things have changed for our children, too, but the need for friendship and connection with peers remains the same. The shift to a digital world allowed us to learn and work, but at an important stage of social development our children were isolated. We weren’t created for isolation; we were created to worship, laugh, play and struggle together in community. Many of our children have a foot in both the digital world and real time, so a few thoughts about friendships and social relationships in the new era of both worlds might be helpful.

 

Digital discipleship:

We are all called to be disciples of Jesus who treat others with respect, kindness, compassion and mercy. Since we have the choice to grow closer to Christ or move away from him, we need to help our kids evaluate the people and places they are connecting with online to make sure we’re leading each other in the right direction.

Emotional savvy:

Things and people are going to irritate, hurt, embarrass and excite us. Kids need to have adults model what to do with all of those emotions. The first step is to teach them how to articulate the emotion they’re feeling. It might be hurt or anger because of something said online or in person. Emotional coaching needs to be a part of our family conversation so kids know how to feel the feelings and react responsibly instead of saying hurtful things that are hard to take back and repair. We need to include the importance of praying for others – those who hurt us and those we have hurt – and desire their holiness.

The big two – empathy and ownership:

Empathy, or seeing things from another’s perspective, allows us to see through Christ’s eyes, and that vision is 20/20! We need to teach our kids that words and actions leave a mark both positive and negative. The person with empathy acts and reacts out of compassion and goodness, and that is a beautiful gift to bring to any relationship. Our kids need to know that we all make mistakes, and when our words or actions hurt a friendship we need to take ownership and not only apologize but make amends. As you navigate this lesson be sure to include the infinite mercy we receive from our Father.

Brother’s keeper:

We are our “brother’s keeper,” and we need to pray for the courage to defend and connect with those who need a voice. Something as simple as a smile or kind hello can bring a ray of hope to a sad heart. We have a responsibility to help our children know that each and every one of us is created in the image and likeness of God and deserves to be treated with dignity.

Stand strong:

There is no shortage of people and sources in both the digital and real world who make it their mission to lead us astray. Whether it’s pressure from peers or from online sources, help your kids develop a strong sense of who they are and who they want to be so they remain confident. Sharing Scripture such as Jeremiah 29:11 can provide an anchor in the stormy seas of childhood friendships. Know who your kids are with, know where they’re going online, and don’t hesitate to say no to people and places that you can’t be sure will uphold the vision you and the Lord have for your child.


Sheri Wohlfert is a Catholic school teacher, speaker, writer and founder of Joyful Words Ministries. Sheri blogs at www.joyfulwords.org.

¡Lee este artículo en español! (Spanish Language Version)