I love technology. I love the power that it has to amplify the positive voices in the world. Over the last several months, we've also seen how social media can raise awareness of injustices. And yet, people can also use technology's power for bad things. At our school we seek to "teach, not ban" kids from technology and its power so that they can be positive digital citizens both today and in the future. It's challenging, but we believe it's an important challenge.
I think the hardest thing about mentoring students through technology is that there is no simple three step process that will guarantee that your student will never see something they shouldn't see, say something they should say, or do something they shouldn't do. However, as Jaime Casap explains, it's even more dangerous to pretend it doesn't exist. As I mentor students, I'm continually more and more thankful that I believe that God is sovereign and in control because raising kids is hard.
This year I watched Men, Women, and Children, a film by Jason Reitman (creator of Juno, Thank You for Smoking), which calls attention to how technology can impact relationships. In this film, he shows various parenting methods in regards to technology, and you're basically left realizing that none of these methods are foolproof. After watching it, my husband and I speechless for a few minutes before we dove into conversation. I encourage you to watch it with some other people who are parenting your students (your spouse, some parent friends, etc.).
I will warn you that it's rated R for a reason. I don't recommend you watch it with your students, but I do think it's an important watch for someone raising kids right now. Here's the trailer:
Most importantly, after you watch it, take some time to talk about it. Here are a few of the questions we talked about:
- How does technology affect Don & Helen's marriage? What boundaries do we want to have for ourselves with technology?
- Which parenting techniques were helpful and which ones were harmful? If we had teenagers right now what would we do?
- How do you handle it when your child's friends' parents have different expectations and boundaries than yours?
- How do we ensure that we don't live vicariously through our children?
It's a challenging movie to watch, and it will probably leave you with a lump in your throat for a few weeks. However, I think it's important to realize that events like these do happen on a daily basis. The stakes are high for us as we seek to teach students to be positive digital citizens.