An Alternate Function for Technology

As “there are no small things”[1] we are told to “work heartily, as for the Lord” (Col. 3:23), something as simple as making your bed[2] can do wonders for your happiness and health, and carefulness is a virtue, according to Aristotle, then paying attention to details and concentrating on bettering seemingly unimportant small skills is important for the overall well-being, success, and fulfillment of a student.  Thus, the insistence when a teacher makes you put your heading in the correct corner with each piece of information, or makes you use graph paper for math, or makes you re-do an answer that she cannot read—are all examples of an effort to help a student realize the importance of being careful with details.

Of course, the trick is helping students realize what the details are and why they are important. 

In case you haven’t noticed, our society and the rising generation are obsessed with technology.  From memes to viral videos to new iPhones to seemingly a new streaming device every month, we love sticking our faces in screens.  But being surrounded by technology and the internet does not mean we know how to use it.

In fact, instead of learning to control technology, we are becoming controlled by it.

How are we being controlled by it?  Here are just a few possible examples:

  1. Children staying up late looking at their phones have poor sleep quality and have trouble staying awake and alert during school.[3]
  2. The average teen spends anywhere from 6-9 hours in front of screens a day with most of this time spent on social media sites (Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.).[4]
  3. An increase in mental illness and physical risks may be linked to a child’s exposure to social media where they can purposefully or accidentally see inappropriate words and images.
  4. Several children have committed suicide because of something someone said to them on the internet, and there is possibly even a social media challenge encouraging self-harm.[5]
  5. What’s the first thing you take away from your child when he/she misbehaves? It’s probably TV time, video game rights, or their phone, isn’t it?
  6. When the power goes out, or there is no signal or data, how quickly do your kids become “bored”?

Based on such findings and my experience teaching 7th-12th graders at Annapolis over the last few years, I believe that our students need extra guidance managing technology—mostly computers—and the internet.

I am in no way saying we take away all phones, burn all computers, and break the internet.  We are, after all, called to be “in the world but not of it.”  Our kids are, even though they attend Annapolis, in the world.  For many, they may go to Annapolis, go to church every weekend, have a strong Christian family, and have solid Christian friends, but the second they get on the internet, they can be instantly exposed to a multitude of different views, images, and words.  In short, the smallest, most seemingly unimportant Tweet or 30-second video can drastically impact a child.

My goal is not to frighten you—though some fear can inspire positive action—but to demonstrate why teaching students to use computers and technology correctly and responsibly is so important.  This includes a multitude of tasks and skills.

Our students need to learn how to type in order to write papers more quickly and efficiently.  Our students need to understand the basics of how to fix computer problems, keep one clean from old files and viruses, and store their files in an organized and transferable fashion.  Our students need to learn how to use a search engine and find credible sources so they can properly cite them in order add credibility to their own papers.  And our students need to learn how to communicate professionally over the internet, especially through e-mails to their teachers.

While it would be a fallacy—the bandwagon fallacy—to say that because everyone else’s curriculum focuses so much on technology, ours should too, we must acknowledge that technology is unavoidable.  And if we are to train up our children in the way they should go so that when they are old they will not depart from it (Prov. 22:6), then helping them achieve success in the small things—yes, it matters if you know how to double-space a paper; yes, it’s important to know how to make a graph for your lab reports; yes, it’s necessary to have a clear subject line, an address, and a signature in an e-mail even if it’s just sending in a paper—will help them achieve success in other areas of their lives, as well.

Ms. Rebecca Lyons

 

[1] Dow, Phillip. Virtuous Minds, 23

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgzLzbd-zT4

[3] http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/31/health/kids-sleep-screens-tech/index.html

[4] http://www.socialmediatoday.com/marketing/how-much-time-do-people-spend-social-media-infographic, http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-32067158, http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/03/health/teens-tweens-media-screen-use-report/

[5] https://www.geo.tv/latest/158152-blue-whale-challenge  See also my post on the dangers of 13 Reasons Why.