Digital Children: Children meeting God – in the digital realm

Maggie Barfield spoke on Children meeting God – in the digital realm

“… people with a story to tell are finding: that to tell it, they need not only to entertain their audience, but to involve them, invite them in, let them immerse themselves.”  The Art of Immersion, Frank Rose (editor of The Wired), Norton 2011

We have the stickiest story so we need to involve, invite, and immerse them.

CUBE: Working together with the American Bible Society to help 8-11s grow in their faith online.

Doing it because of the Great Commission.  Christians have done this for 2,000 years.

Most children aged 8-11s spend 2 hours online a day so if we’re going to fulfil the Great Commission we need to go online and speak their language.  Instead of telling them what to do we ask them “what should you be doing?”  “What should we be doing to help children meet God through the Bible and prayer?”

Looked at all the areas of child development, in faith and spirituality, ways of handling the Bible, where education and learning styles is going, technology developments – tablets didn’t exist when initial project started, safety and child protection.  Digital delivery quite quickly came

Marc Prensky, Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, 2001: “think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors … are ‘native speakers’ of the language.

“Digital natives …”

  • Used to receiving information really fast
  • Like to parallel process and multi-task
  • Prefer their graphics before their text
  • Prefer random access (like hypertext) – finding things on Wikipedia that are irrelevant
  • Function best when networked
  • Thrive on instant gratification and frequent rewards
  • Prefer games to “serious work”.

“a new type of narrative is emerging – one that’s told through many media at once in a way that is nonlinear, that’s participatory and often game-like, and that’s designed above all to be immersive.  This is “deep media”: stories that are not just entertaining, but immersive taking you deeper …”  The Art of Immersion, Frank Rose (editor of The Wired), Norton 2011

Justin Barrett from Fuller Theological Seminary says:

“Children learn things that their minds are tuned to learn more readily than things that go against that natural tuning … children’s minds are not a level playing field.  They are tilted in the direction of belief.”

Faith can be …

  • Shaped by teaching
  • Enhanced through response
  • Grown in community

This is all works when we live in a digital age.

Product definition

Our solution is to pursue a site that is child-focussed including gaming, entertaining and information.

“This stage of development has been called by some “the age of the young scientist” in that it is a time when things are either right or wrong.  It is also a period of considerable spiritual awareness.”  Howard Worsley, A Child Sees God

Everything we are aiming to do through CUBE can be done through a Virtual World, innovations that game writers are surprised by, finding new ways to tell and explore Bible stories with a genuine response in the online environment.  Doing some new work on the metrics and indicators of faith.

Matters Arising

  • How do you “reward” activity in a digital world – it’s normally for shooting or killing something!
  • Avoiding the anticlimax – revolutionary fun and then the Bible story – interesting and challenging.
  • Grace – how do you share this concept of God’s grace against the
  • Moving between game and beyond-game – and back.
  • Balance between fun and purpose.
  • Who am I?  Is it real or not?

Are we nearly there yet?

Done a lot of research and thinking.  Ready to press the button, but there isn’t much to show.  Want to have something available to the public in January 2014 to build an audience, and next April launch fully, scaling up the site from then on.

www.projectcube.org

www.facebook.com/ProjectCube

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