The end goal is for children to learn to love the scriptures and hear God’s voice in His holy word. But how best to accomplish that goal? Specifically, should scriptures on electronic devices be allowed in Primary? You and the Lord will figure out the right answer for your Primary, and that answer may change over time. But here are a few considerations, and a list of pros and cons. Thanks to guests Stacy and Jennifer R.
who added their thoughts!
- Using phones to access scriptures should never be a means of separating those families with more money from those with less, or making any child feel uncomfortable if they don’t have a phone.
- Stacy: “Whichever method you choose, give kids plenty of wait time for them to find the reference. It is very frustrating to still be looking for a scripture when someone is already reading it. When this happens a few times, kids lose interest in even trying to look up the reference.”
BENEFITS OF ELECTRONIC SCRIPTURES:
- What better time to learn to use the Church’s extensive online materials and to learn appropriate etiquette regarding phone use than in Primary? Jennifer R.: “The Church has been asking all members to move toward online class manuals for years, in addition to the amount of resources being put into apps and web materials. Two weeks ago I showed both Junior and Senior Primary how to access the music app (the icon is green with a gold note) and make a playlist of this year’s Primary songs. (CDs are so ‘old school!’ They want mp3’s now!) Some may say the kids could end up just playing games on their phones. That could be true in some cases, just as some adults do in class. But the adults were never taught as children how to self-govern with smart phones. Perhaps we have a golden opportunity to teach the next generation of leaders some e-manners. Our Primary presidency does a good job of being in different parts of the room. They can see who isn’t looking up scriptures and then gently redirect the child. Phones get put under chairs if an activity or song requires action.”
- Navigating in the scriptures can be easier with technology. This is especially helpful as children are beginning their exposure to the scriptures. For example, children need not know what book of scriptures contains Moses 1:39 in order to locate this scripture: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (from the Pearl of Great Price, not the Old Testament with the rest of Moses’ story, naturally).
- Stacy adds: “For new or struggling readers there is the option of text to speech, which aids in comprehension. You can have one word read or a whole verse or chapter.”
BENEFITS OF BOUND SCRIPTURES:
- I’d hate to think we’re raising a whole generation that can’t study the scriptures if the power is out. Or what if they’re called on a mission to a remote region where technology is scarce and electricity is precious and expensive — will their scripture study skills grind to a halt?
- Research is mixed about how electronics affect understanding. For example, this Scientific American article states, “Whether they realize it or not, many people approach computers and tablets with a state of mind less conducive to learning than the one they bring to paper.” An article in Wired.com is titled “Why the Smart Reading Device of the Future May Be … Paper.” It states “in a world of screen ubiquity, many people still prefer to do their serious reading on paper. When I need to read deeply—when I want to lose myself in a story or an intellectual journey, when focus and comprehension are paramount—I still turn to paper.” This absolutely applies to scripture study: focus and comprehension ARE paramount.
- Stacy: “If using hard copies I always write the reference. And give tips, like this: Alma is in the Book of Mormon, about in the middle of the book, maybe even a page number.”
Stacy adds: We need not suppose that one way is better than another when we are working with children. Our way may not be better for them.
With all this in mind, here’s my personal thoughts. Ideally, I hope children learn to read the scriptures in both formats over time, and make intelligent choices about which format works best for them in what circumstances. Perhaps Primary leaders might have some weeks using only paper scriptures (borrowing copies from the library) and other weeks where either paper or electronics are allowed.
I’m sure the Lord will guide you as you seek to immerse His beloved children in His word in the scriptures.