Written by Dr. Steve Whitaker, Head of School

At The First Academy, we are a community of learners. When we find resources that will make us Stronger Together we want to share those resources with others. Today we want to pass along some really important lessons about technology from Focus on the Family. Tricia and I have been fans of their work since before we had children.

Technology is an important part of the educational process at TFA. We are an Apple Distinguished School, we use computers and iPads for critical presentations and papers, and we use state-of-the-art tools and products to enhance the learning environment for our students. While technology can offer innovative and exciting opportunities in support of what the instructors are teaching in the classroom, there are also challenges when technology is not used appropriately; when it acts as a replacement for true social and relational engagement.

The mobile phone has completely changed today’s culture. Smartphones have become nearly inseparable from many teens, often consuming their life and draining time and bandwidth from important relationships and activities. Mobile devices can also create a direct portal for negative influences. Instead of enhancing and education, devices often isolate teens from healthy relationships, subjecting them to cyberbullying, distorted messaging, and risky behaviors. A child’s healthy view of technology starts in the home. As parents, we can give our pre-teens healthy boundaries for their devices and model appropriate boundaries with our own devices.

We can also lead them in an exploration of technology’s potential for creativity and productivity in their areas of interest. At TFA, we want to diligently model healthy technology use beginning with some of our youngest Royals. At tomorrow’s Grandparents Day, for example, 1st-grade students will showcase videos they have created especially for each of their grandparents. 2nd-grade students will share a lesson in Nearpod that they have created, where they will “teach” their grandparents about something they are learning.

Young people who develop a healthy relationship with technology understand that they are not made to be consumers but producers-created by God to do great things for His glory. Producers create music instead of just listening to it. They take up photography, instead of spending hours absorbed in friends’ Instagram feeds. They join a mission trip rather than following someone else’s travels. We have an important responsibility and opportunity to help our kids recognize and explore the thrills of the real-world adventures that are all around them.

Spending time texting, watching videos or flipping through social media isn’t necessarily unhealthy, but our young people have to be prepared so they aren’t taken in by the addictive nature of these platforms. When texting and social media no longer enhance but consume their lives, they need to evaluate how they’re using their time.

One of the most important things we can do is have a non-threatening, unemotional conversation about technology with our kids. It’s possible, I promise – I’ve done it on multiple occasions and you can as well. The best way to start is by asking questions – and then listening. Don’t set new rules, yet…just listen and learn. Here are some questions to get you started:

  1. What’s your favorite app on your device(s)?
  2. What would you change about your favorite app if you could?
  3. What’s your least favorite app? Why?
  4. How do you think technology has helped and hurt your generation?
  5. What do you think my generation “doesn’t get” about technology?

There’s no perfect time to have this conversation…so just do it today. Get the conversation started and don’t let it end. At The First Academy, we will do everything that we can to partner with you when it comes to guiding our children in the area of Digital Citizenship.



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