Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries, and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries.”
17th Century French Philosopher
“School studies have a higher purpose than the acquisition of information or worldly skills. These acquisitions will follow, but they are subordinate to the orienting of the soul to God, implicit in the act of attention.”
Caldecott Stratford in Beauty in the Word.
Reference: The Digital Invasion by Dr. Archilbald Hart & Dr. Sylvia Hart Frejd
Today’s parents face an entirely different challenge than any previous generation of parents because they are raising the first entirely plugged-in generation: one that is able to connect to anyone, anywhere, at anytime and readily access a wealth of information about anything they wish.
There’s no denying it – parenting a plugged-in generation holds both new opportunities AND new challenges. Teaching such a generation likewise has its blessings and curses. The vitally important challenge for today’s teachers will be to help their students develop and improve their quality of attention – key to the learning process.
No one can dispute that technology is clearly the future and that we benefit greatly from technology tools.
Email is far more efficient than the postal service. Benefits include easy purchasing ability, instant world-wide communication, venues for social interaction, instant access to a wealth of information, and the accessibility of books including the Bible in every major language.
One downside however is that we have become more sedentary as a society.
In addition, media tends to reduces daily connectedness between family members and frighteningly little is known about the consequences of significant exposure to digital media over time. I found it interesting to read in The Digital Invasion that technology aides the communication process in families who report healthy and frequent conversations while it intensifies the isolation of family members who dwell without healthy interactions.
Today’s kids need to learn how to use technology wisely yet still gain vital disciplines of the heart and mind that are nurtured outside the digital world.
While parents and teachers should teach technology as a tool, they must carefully consider the impact that wide use of digital technologies could have on the developing brain.
One of the biggest concerns lies with the issue of sleep deprivation. Adolescents are tempted to use their devices well into the night depriving them of sleep (studies indicate they need on average 9.2 hours a night). Sleep provides recovery time that the brain needs in order to problem solve, contemplate, meditate, and pray. The brain needs times of quiet rest in order to avoid neural system fatigue. “No real learning takes place when one is constantly being distracted. When children keep their brains busy with digital input, they forfeit downtime. Downtime is what the brain needs between learning task so that it can process and consolidate the information it is learning.”
The Digital Invasion written by Dr. Archilbald Hart and Dr. Sylvia Hart Frejd examines these issues and provides valuable insights and suggestions for parents and educators. With information from their book, I have compiled a TIPS & GUIDELINES document regarding technology use in families. We are a digital culture and becoming more so. It’s the world we raise our kids in so let’s be wise and thoughtful and learn to use technology in ways that enhance our relationships and grants us more time for what matters most.
QUOTES TO CONTEMPLATE
Christian psychiatrist Dr. Curt Thompson in Anatomy of the Soul: “Spiritual disciplines have been practiced in the lives of deeply integrated followers of God for over three thousand years. They facilitate the very things neuroscience and attachment research suggest are reflections for healthy mental states and secure attachment. Furthermore, these disciplines can strengthen the prefrontal cortex.”
John Piper in Pierced by the Word:“If all other variables are equal, your capacity to know God deeply will probably diminish in direct proportion to how much television you watch. There are several reasons for this. One is that television reflects American culture at its most trivial. And a steady diet of triviality shrinks the soul. You get used to it. It starts to seem normal. Silly becomes funny. And funny becomes pleasing. And pleasing becomes soul-satisfaction. And in the end, the soul that is made for God has shrunk to fit snugly around triteness. This may be unnoticed, because if all you’ve known is American culture, you can’t tell there is anything wrong. If you have only read comic books, it won’t be strange that there are no novels in your house. If you live where there are no seasons, you won’t miss the colors of fall. If you watch fifty TV ads each night, you may forget there is such a thing as wisdom. TV is mostly trivial. It seldom inspires great thoughts or great feelings with glimpses of great Truth. God is the great absolute, all-shaping Reality. If He gets any airtime, He is treated as an opinion. There is no reverence. No trembling. God and all that He thinks about the world is missing. Cut loose from God and everything goes down.”