It seems like I blinked and Kim and I went from driving our girls home from the hospital to walking them down the aisle.
While the newborn stage was great, Kim and I find some of our fondest memories come from the toddler phase of our girls’ lives. We celebrated when each one figured out how to sit up then start scooting around. The angels rejoiced when we sprinkled their highchair trays with little round O’s and the girls figured out how to get them into their own mouths.
“Look! She did it! She’s feeding herself! Look how happy she is–she’s so proud of herself! We’re killing this parenting thing!” *high five*
I promise you – parents, youth workers, and leaders today celebrate this same “Cheerios moment” in the spiritual development of their children and youth. It is extraordinary to watch a child awaken to the wonder of the goodness of God, be drawn to the truth found in His Word, and, then, begin to feed themselves.
With the impact of the Internet and rapid innovations in technology, these Cheerios moments are happening at younger ages–sometimes before a child is ready to digest the information the world is hurling at them.
Today’s teens had phones when they were in elementary or middle school, compared to high school or college for their older counterparts. That shift is already shaping behaviors²
Nearly 24/7 access at their fingertips is forcing younger children to grapple with realities, even spiritual realities, which traditionally people didn’t encounter until later in life.
Having such unrestrained access to information at such a young age is forcing today’s youth to not only wrestle with post-adolescent topics, but to self-theologize—and at younger ages than any other time in history. That’s why OneHope has partnered to develop impactful digital Scripture engagement tools, such as the Bible App for Kids. This powerful tool enables that “Cheerios moment”—where children as young as one year old can listen, interact, and engage with God’s Word on their own.
Culture is loud and pervasive—seeking to capture the hearts and minds of our young people as early as possible. Even if parents do their best to limit screen time, check their children’s phones, and utilize in-app parent controls, our children still have access to more information than they are prepared to understand and process on their own. This is why we need to provide our little ones with access to nourishing truth at a young age, whether that be through an app or off-line, that will encourage them to seek this same kind of life-giving information online as soon as they are able to navigate on their own. If you’ve ever seen a small child navigate a smartphone or tablet, trust me, they are able!
One of the most humbling stories of a “Cheerios Moment” I heard recently was about a little three-year-old boy named Evan. When asked what he wanted on his birthday cake, he didn’t ask for his favorite TV show, sport, or Spider-Man—he asked for his cake to be the Bible App for Kids.
Making Jesus a child’s hero during the critical “Cheerios Moment” phase helps determine who they will worship the rest of their lives.