Phones, tablets, gizmos and screens. They are part of our life and certainly part of our everyday reality for most parents, employees, and students.
I’m sure that you have been part of a conversation at some point in which mention is made of what you did or didn’t have yourself as a child in terms of “things with screens.” Perhaps you’ve even laughed about what an adult can’t figure out themselves on these devices, even though a three year old in their life can figure things out on their own. Perhaps the fact that children can use a tablet at a young age isn’t actually an indicator of being “smart”, as much as it is the skill of software designers in making use of navigation that is repetitive and predictable. They have, after all, just memorized a short sequence of actions to get what they want. That is not wisdom by definition.
Most mornings this fall I have been walking to school with two of my children. We have to cross streets, use traffic lights, gauge traffic speed, and assess driver’s abilities to see us. When reasonably safe, I allow them to make these decisions – hovering close by to trump their decision if it is unsafe or unwise. They are clearly not ready to take this task on entirely by themselves, but I hope I am planting seeds of safe pedestrians in the future.
This example is, of course, rather ordinary. I name it only to make the case that there is a parallel for an immediate and pressing need for parents to enter the maze of these devices alongside their students. Your faithful presence, rather than silence is needed in this area too. There is rich potential for good in the form of innovative and expansive learning, communication & collaboration, and personal participation is immense in using devices. They also are concerning in terms of forming habits, changing the nature of relationships, and perhaps most concerning - wasting God’s gift of time and opportunity on things of little or no value.
In the same way that it would not be realistic or appropriate for our children to transition from first time walkers directly to independent pedestrians without help, our children need adults working with them to seek out balance and know what it feels like. They need close guidance to sort out what is true, right, and honorable as they use them so they eventually do that on their own. Let’s enter the maze, and take God’s Word with us. We’ll learn on the way.
P.S. Two resources: