When I was in middle and high school if a kid did something embarrassing during the day we all went home at night and forgot about it. Today, students make a bad decision during the school day and it becomes digital fodder for an infinite amount of people…forever.
Hey what ever happened to, waitin' your turn;
Doing it all by hand.'
Cause when everything is handed to you;
It's all only worth as much as the time you put in.
It all just seems so good the way we had it;
Back before everything became, automatic.
Can you relate? Do you resonate with this chorus from Country Music Artist, Miranda Lambert’s song, Automatic? I often reminisce about life before cell phones, and technology in general because 1) I’m old enough and 2) I can get a really great eye roll from my teenagers when I share stories of life before things were “automatic”. In all seriousness, I actually lament about it! I think to myself and even verbalize, “I’m so glad I am not a kid today.” When I was in middle and high school if a kid did something embarrassing during the day we all went home at night and forgot about it. Today, students make a bad decision during the school day and it becomes digital fodder for an infinite amount of people…forever. Technology, smartphones and social media have transformed students into creatures craving one thing: content. It is a sad state of affairs.
Did the Principal of a completely digital, 1-1 technology school just say that? Yep, I said it! I have observed first hand what it is like for a teenager in this digital age. The social and spiritual implications of our digitized world are huge; almost beyond our control including those of us in Christian education. But there is hope! There is hope because we serve a God bigger than the wide world of technology and a God that is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). We have a blessed opportunity to work with young people about the digital world around them in the Christian realm; that truth is not a sad state of affairs!
There is also hope because there are resources available to help us understand the implications of technology for our youth and one of those is a book I read this summer called Digitized. Spiritual Implications of Technology by Bernard Bull. I highly recommend it! An excerpt from his book Digitized p. 98:
We can spend our entire lives chasing after understanding of the digital world only to find that it changes faster than we can grasp it. Or just as we have it in our hands (or minds), it disintegrates and disappears. New technologies overtake old ones. New forms of temptation emerge as other fade away. The world is in constant flux. But praise be to God that not everything is that way. In Hebrews , we read that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (13:8). While people might change their profile images constantly and while technologies come and go, we have a God who is beyond such fluidity and change, a God who is steady and consistent. He is not going anywhere.
I will leave you with three realities I gleaned and the reason for my concern about this topic.
- The speed and ubiquity of social media complicate our ability to control our digital footprint directly implicating our identities. Before technology we were private by default and public by effort. Today (after technology) we are public by default and private with effort.
- Our digital lives are no longer separate entities but instead have become integral to who we are.
- The complexities of our digital world pose a serious threat to the well being of our youth (and that is not going away) and there is little being done systematically to educate students around these topics.
Perhaps your interest is piqued to dig deeper into this book or topic in general. Subscribe to the blog for our next post featuring a special Q & A with the author of Digitized, Bernard Bull.
Mrs. Sarah Harper serves as the Middle School Principal at Faith Lutheran High School in Las Vegas, NV.