With streaming media technology continuing to advance at such a rapid rate, it seems nothing is spared from its impact. Our kids are no exception.
When I was growing up in the 1980s, my family had a small black-and-white TV. It had a dial that we would turn to select any of the ten channels available to us.
Later, we progressed to a color TV with a cable box, allowing us to watch upwards of maybe twenty-five or thirty stations. By the time I had completed my university studies, my family was fortunate to enjoy one hundred channels.
We’ve All Done It
Today, I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that our large flat-screen TV and cable package provide seemingly endless entertainment with about 150 channels from which to choose.
As if this were not enough, our internet service allows us to view programming online, which is very helpful when we want to watch something not available through cable. Picking a show for the kids to watch while my wife and I attend to some errands at home is a great option when we are in need. (I would love to say we invest in this strictly for the kids’ benefit and entertainment, but I would then have to go to confession for lying.)
Yes, we—like so many others—participate in streaming movies and shows online. In fact, I regularly wind down while watching a show on my tablet with earphones, so as not to disturb my wife.
The Better Story
As a high school teacher, I hear plenty of chatter among students as they file in or out of the classroom. The conversations often revolve around things like a math test earlier in the day, sports practice, or a work shift after school. However, many students will also share about the latest show they’ve been binge-watching.
Be it the release of a new season of Stranger Things or reactions to episodes of Game of Thrones (which high school kids shouldn’t be watching, by the way), binge-worthy shows are common conversation starters among kids.
If only they held the same passion for God’s Holy Word.
God’s Love Is More Complete
It seems there is a growing trend among youth today. As they turn increasingly toward watching programs on their cell phone or laptop, they move further from learning about the Bible.
Generally speaking, kids appear more interested and invested in the lives of Archie and Jughead from Riverdale than they do in the accomplishments of Noah and Moses in the Bible. The love saga of Ross and Rachel in Friends seems to garner far more attention and familiarity than the love stories of Adam and Eve, Mary and Joseph, or any other couple in the Word of God.
Kids are caught up in the excitement of modern-day pop culture. It seems they could benefit from the numerous and invaluable lessons taught throughout Sacred Scripture.
The trouble is the influence of today’s ever-present secularism is strong. They may not know enough about the love God could reveal to them through the Bible.
A most remarkable storytelling experience awaits them if they’re willing to explore the Word of God.
If they only knew the action, drama, suspense, and romance they seek in movies and TV shows are present in the Bible all amidst a great epic story.
Family values, friendship, sacrifice, challenge and overcoming adversity are all popular themes found in Scripture. All of this, and we haven’t even touched upon the fact that it is a chance to encounter their Lord and Savior through his Word.
Benefits Kids Receive from Reading the Bible
In addition to having a personal encounter with Christ and receiving God’s teachings, reading Scripture also has its practical benefits.
Kids can practice their literacy skills, develop their imagination, broaden their vocabulary, and learn ancient history when reading the Bible.
There’s also the chance for them to develop their social skills and form new relationships if they join a Bible study.
Such groups can help guide a reader as he or she journeys to learn and better understand the amazing narrative in the Bible and its relation to life today.
Online Bible Resources
To appeal to the modern appetite of youth, Scripture can also be transferred to several easy-to-access forms beyond print.
Kids can learn about the Bible in various ways online. Websites like Bible Gateway, for example, let them compare different translations of the Bible.
The Bible’s various books and themes, and the story of Christ can also come alive through engaging animations, like those available through The Bible Project. Ascension’s Great Adventure Bible study series also offers in-depth lectures about salvation history. These studies show how each book of the Bible fits into the overall story of Scripture.
Youth of all ages can also discover lessons of the Bible through other appealing presentations.
The Beginner’s Bible in book or video format and the Brother Francis series is designed for younger children. However, older kids approaching their teen years can surely brush up on biblical teachings and events through these resources.
Online Faith Formation Resources
Many youth today gravitate toward superheroes. They can learn more about the true heroes of our Church—the saints—through reading the Bible and using various faith resources.
For instance, Dynamic Catholic and Formed are just two of many options that provide faith formation resources, including specific material for youths. Ascension, the faith formation leader, also has many resources that can provide a strong foundation for their teenage years.
Knowing the Bible and the Faith well will help kids live a virtuous life and overcome adversity. They will better appreciate the teachings of our Catholic Faith, and grow in holiness in their formative years.
By investing in God’s Word, we can remain confident in prayer that our youth will have the foundation required to reach heaven. That’s far better than any online TV binge-watching marathon can provide.
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About Matt Charbonneau
Matt Charbonneau is a high school religious education teacher who inspires his students to explore a deeper relationship with God. Applying uplifting lessons, engaging activities and insightful experiences, he strives to demonstrate the powerful presence and unconditional love of God in everyday life. For more of Matt’s writing, visit God’s Giveaways at www.mattcharbonneau.com.