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Participating in the D6 conference is one of my favorite events of the year! The Bible tells us many times to remember. For me, D6 always helps me remember why I got into ministry in the first place and why families are so important. 

Here are a few of my favorite quotes and ideas from this year‘s conference with my comments: 

“We are living in a world where emotions are driving the bus and that’s got to change.” – Michelle Nietert 

Emotions need to be recognized, but we are living in a time that exalts emotions over everything else. Instead of only asking children, “How does that make you feel?” we also need to ask, “What do you think about that?” If emotions are driving the bus, that means I can bail when my relationships get hard or watch movies when I don’t feel like working. Real-life doesn’t work this way. 

“How can we empower the next generation of introverts? Being an introvert isn’t a struggle. It’s a superpower. Introverts, be who God created you to be. Our noisy chaotic world needs you like never before.” – Holley Gerth 

I love how Holley has helped introverts to realize that being quiet or needing time to think and the process is just fine! Our introverted kids need to be championed, not turned into something they are not (like the life of the party). When I’m chatting with an introverted kid at church, I’m trying to include quiet—not talking a mile a minute the whole time, but just sitting still with the student for a few moments. 

“Kids need to wrestle with things, so they can come out with character. An over-emphasis on safety increases anxiety in the lives of children.” – Dr. Scott Turansky 

This idea blew me away thinking of the past two years with COVID. We have beat the drum of safety, safety, safety, and kids are more anxious than ever. Maybe instead of sending our kids off to school with the motto, “Be safe!” we can say, “Be brave!” It’s really true that kids need to experience the natural challenges of life to grow character. If they never have to wait for anything in our instant tech world, how will they grow patience? If we rescue them out of a carpool situation with a kid they don’t like, how will they learn to get along with others? The age-appropriate struggles build character. We cannot bubble wrap our kids and think we are doing them a service. 

Here are two main ideas from a breakout session I shared titled “Dangers of Digital Candy.” I hope you will find them helpful in your personal life and ministry. 

Idea #1: Teach your kids to think in terms of digital candy and digital vegetables. 

All screen time is not equal. A child watching an old episode of Mister Rogers is experiencing something much different than a child watching a new cartoon on Nickelodeon. 

A digital vegetable is something that is healthy for a child. You almost have to force-feed it to them. Children never get in trouble for consuming digital vegetables. A few examples of digital vegetables are listening to a sermon, learning a new language, learning how to solve a math problem, or video chatting with Grandma. You never complain to a friend, “I just can’t get my child to stop using my Bible app!” 

On the other hand, digital candy is gobbled up with no effort at all—entertaining YouTube videos, video games, social media, and movies. A little bit of candy (both literal and digital candy) is okay now and then, but a constant diet of candy will rot a child’s body, mind, and heart. 

Teach your kids to label their screen use as candy or vegetables to help them discern between the two. The goal is to have kids who grow into teens who grow into adults who can tell the difference between useful and useless screen time. 

Idea #2: The dumber the toy, the smarter the child. 

Think of the difference between giving a three-year-old a teddy bear or a tablet. One toy is dumb, the other is smart. Let’s call our child Peter. With the dumb teddy bear, Peter provides all the imagination, animating that bear, making the bear walk, talk, and eat. Peter provides all the action and the bear is a willing playmate. But with the tablet, Peter doesn’t have to use his imagination. You never hear his voice. In fact, he barely moves. He is hovered over that tablet, just swiping and pressing. The tablet (that’s very smart) does all the work. 

Fast forward to a teenager who is holding a smartphone. Who needs to have a sense of direction (there are Google maps), or know how to spell (there’s autocorrect)? The child doesn’t have to be smart because the phone is smart. You can ask your phone any question and become an instant expert on any subject. But there is no wisdom in a smartphone. Teens and young adults are growing up with advanced technology, yet they are not as skilled as generations past. If you want your child to grow up with wisdom, give them a dumbphone and let them figure out problems on their own (without the help of Alexa or Siri). 

Is giving your child a dumbphone going to be countercultural? Absolutely. My oldest child got his first smartphone the summer before he went to college. Yes, you read that right, college. He was probably the only senior in high school without a smartphone, but he did just fine. He learned workarounds to communicate with his friends, took notes the old-fashioned way, and had time to develop hobbies like playing the piano, 3D printing, and mountain biking. He ended up being the valedictorian of a class of 600. Not bad for a kid without a 21st-century phone in his pocket. 

I have seen this principle proven in my own home: the dumber the toy (or phone), the smarter the child. I am confident this will prove true in your home and church as well.

If you would like access to the complete D6 2022 experience you can go HERE to purchase the D6 2022 Media Vault filled with wisdom and insight to equip the church and home.

Arlene Pellicane
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