Dalat students live ethically by using technology appropriately.
Like many of you, the technology I grew up with was pretty “wired.” The phone had to be plugged into the outlet on the wall, the video game console had to be plugged into the TV, and the first computers not only had to be plugged in but had no hard drives or internet at all. Sometimes, we think nostalgically about those days before we were connected to the world every moment of every day.
At the same time, I also really appreciate the ability to have so much information at my fingertips all the time. In church on Sunday, the pastor read a verse from Psalms and asked if anyone knew the instrument being referred to. No one did, but I just looked it up on my phone and found dozens of photos and the history of the specific instrument. I love to click on a word while reading on my phone and instantly get the definition. Video calls make living far from family and friends so much easier!
Realistically, technology isn’t going away and isn’t staying the same. As those who teach and care for children, we have a responsibility to help them make good choices regarding technology, even when they know more about it than we do! I recently read a great book titled Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other that speaks of the impact of technology on our relationships. The author Sherry Turkle offers some challenges and suggestions in her writing:
Be physically present – According to Turkle’s research, many students report that they just want undivided attention from their parents. They want their parents to put down their phones and focus on them. Even if the kids seem distracted by their phones, they crave face-to-face time with their parents.
Encourage independence – In days past, teenagers at the mall or with friends had a lot of independence from their parents. Now, the parents expect frequent check-ins and want the kids to always be available. Try to find the right balance here between keeping kids safe and letting them spread their wings.
Calm anxiety – Social media in particular has led to increased anxiety in both teens and adults. People feel judged by the things they post (or don’t) and try to curate an online presence that mimics the life they want. In “real life,” things happen beyond your control. You say something out loud and can’t take it back. We need to remind kids that it’s okay to make mistakes, and they don’t have to be perfect.
Practice solitude – This one is for the adults just as much as the kids. By being always connected, we have very few times of quiet. Some people have even made turning off notifications a spiritual discipline and many experts encourage periodic fasting from technology. No matter where you fall on this spectrum, it’s important to intentionally take time away from the constant connections.
As with everything else in life, modeling the appropriate use of technology is the best way forward with our kids. It’s also important to have open conversations with students about the benefits and drawbacks of the technology they are currently using. Once you start a conversation, you may be surprised that your kids share some of your frustrations with the technology in their lives and you can work together to improve.
Recent Reflection Articles
Though these traditions differ from those in our home country, they share key principles that bind us to our community, link us to our past, and cultivate enduring memories.
Do you have questions on how to support your children in developing healthy independence?