“Virtual Children”—the Future of Parenthood?

“Virtual Children”—the Future of Parenthood?

What will the future look like? Skies filled with flying cars? Virtual reality travel? “Tamagotchi kids”? Well, according to a recent article about a new book coming from an expert on artificial intelligence, “Tamagotchi kids” will be the “new thing” in parenting (or, rather, so-called parenting!).

Okay, what’s a Tamagotchi kid? This phrase, borrowed from the Japanese digital pet toys that were wildly popular in the ’90s, refers to “cheap and cuddle-able digital offspring” in the “metaverse.” According to this AI expert, “within 50 years, technology will have advanced to such an extent that babies which exist in the metaverse are indistinct from those in the real world.” Apparently, these children will look like their “parents,” who are able to play with and cuddle them, as well as enjoy “simulated emotional responses as well as speech.”

Now why would anyone want a digital child? Well,

Think of the advantages: minimal cost and environmental impact. And less worry – though you might want a bit of that programmed in for a more authentic parental experience.

Don’t want a teenager? “Then put it off,” as parents of digital offspring will likely be able to decide if and when their child grows up. Get tired of “raising” your Tamagotchi? Cancel your monthly subscription!

It shows an incredible disdain for the value of human life, placing ease, financial considerations, and the environment over the life of a child.

This whole notion of replacing a real child with a digital child is, well, horrifying! It shows an incredible disdain for the value of human life, placing ease, financial considerations, and the environment over the life of a child. Not only that, it assumes that a preprogrammed, digital child is a worthy replacement for a flesh-and-blood, made-in-the-image-of-God-with-an-eternal-soul child!

In a culture that increasingly views children as a burden, both to their lifestyle and pocketbook (as well as the environment), digital children might seem like fun. But only because such children (because they don’t actually exist!) require none of the self-sacrifice that parenting demands! It’s a self-centered and selfish idea that makes “parenting” an experience you pay for and “children” a commodity for a monthly subscription. (But in a society that largely already sees babies in this commodified way, to be had or discarded at will, this is not surprising.)

How should Christians view virtual children? Well, first we must understand that the first recorded statement God said to Adam and Eve in Genesis 1, after he created them, was:

And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)

And God has never revoked this!

Second, we must understand the heart that will be driving the creation of this technology. It’s not about developing something fun that people can play around with (like Tamagotchi toys). It’s about subverting the family and God’s created order and letting creation (the environment) have dominion over man instead of the other way around as it should be (Genesis 1:25). It’s another plot of the Devil to try to destroy the family.

Third, Christian wisdom says that, as with any technology, Christians must be aware of the time commitment that such a product would be. It’s very likely the experience will be highly immersive and even addicting (consider how much time people spend just on social media in a day!), taking away hours each day that could be spent with family, serving the Lord, or doing the everyday tasks God has called us to be faithful in—and all for what? A non-existent AI-driven hologram with no eternal value whatsoever that will fade away with this earth.

The world may embrace digital children as the way of the future, but we as Christians know a child made in our image is no replacement for a child made in God’s image.

Lastly, parents, let this ridiculous article (that also reminds me of Romans 1:22, “Claiming to be wise, they became fools”) remind you of the importance of the job God has given you. The world may embrace digital children as the way of the future, but we as Christians know a child made in our image is no replacement for a child made in God’s image. He has entrusted these children to us—thankfully without a monthly subscription cost!—and we’re to dedicate time, resources, and energy to raising these children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4 KJV). It’s a very difficult job but a wonderful blessing from the Lord!

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! (Psalm 127:4–5)

Get More Answers on Answers News

This item was discussed yesterday on Answers News with cohosts Tim Chaffey, Bodie Hodge, and Jessica Jaworski. Answers News is our twice-weekly news program filmed live before a studio audience and broadcast on my Facebook page and the Answers in Genesis Facebook page. We also covered the following topics:

  • Poll: over half of Americans believe abortion is “morally acceptable.”
  • What’s a “grolar bear”?
  • Mennonite Church USA now allows pastors to officiate homosexual weddings.
  • And more!

Watch the entire episode of Answers News for June 15, 2022.

Be sure to join us each Monday and Wednesday at 2 pm (ET) on my Facebook page or the Answers in Genesis Facebook page for Answers News. You won’t want to miss this unique news program that gives science and culture news from a distinctly biblical and Christian perspective.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
Ken

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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