Written by Dr. Steve Whitaker, Head of School
Virgin Atlantic Airlines is a market leader in the travel and tourism business. They own massive Boeing jets and sell exotic vacation packages. Their colors are red and white.
The First Academy is a Christ-centered, college-preparatory school. We teach and train students to impact their world through servant leadership. Our colors are blue and gold.
So what do we have in common? Both organizations arrived a surprisingly similar conclusion regarding technology. We both see digital overload as a problem in our organizations. The obsession to be connected to our devices 24/7 hasn’t made us more productive. It has distracted us from what is most important, the people we love and with whom we do life.
This year we are stemming the tide of digital overload at TFA. Students may not use their cell phones at school. Employees are permitted to send/receive email only between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm. This means they don’t have to answer my email or yours before breakfast or after dinner.
Both mandates may seem rather draconian to some. However, this week I read that Virgin Atlantic took similar steps. Not only are their employees limited to sending email during the same timeframe as ours, cell phones are banned from meetings.
The results have been tremendously positive for TFA. Students walk the halls without running into each other, and they sit at the lunch tables each day having face-to-face conversations with their friends. Teachers enjoy not getting late night reminders from administrators, and they have the opportunity to spend time with their own children in the evening rather than responding to emails about someone else’s children.
We didn’t need research to know these steps were needed at our school. However, the research is compelling on the topic. In a recent study by the Barna Institute, parents overwhelmingly agree that raising kids is more difficult than ever, and they agree that technology is one of the most complicating factors.
Let me encourage you to follow the example of Virgin Atlantic and The First Academy. Take steps to push back against digital overload in the workplace and in your home.
In His Joy,
Steve D. Whitaker, Ph.D.
Head of School
PS For more information on managing digital overload at home, you might want to read “The Tech-wise Family’ by Andy Crouch.