I admit it…I’m a late adopter. I am careful in approach and rarely jump into anything new without appropriately assessing all options. Then I weigh them, and observe the early adopters to be sure I don’t experience the same pitfalls they will inevitably find themselves in. And although I consider myself a digital native, I find myself following a similar pattern in the digital / electronic world, including social media. Now I’m not proud of this; as a matter of fact I wish I was an early adopter. I feel that I often miss out on amazing possibilities. I usually give the excuses that others use: “it’s a waste of time!” or “I don’t care what other people ate for breakfast” (referring to being a social media hold-out).
Liked us lately?
I heard a rumour recently that Facebook is considering charging businesses to use their service. If this is true, they clearly have realized that social media is no longer just social. Take our own school’s site, for example. Our analytics show that one of the most effective tools in terms of fostering loyalty and ambassadorship is our Facebook page. Each post reaches an average of 1,175 people. And if we post pictures or videos these numbers go up exponentially. When we post an old alumni picture, the level of engagement is through the roof! At this level of engagement, we get comments like “I love this school” or “what an amazing place.” Facebook is no longer a social platform where people share “what they ate for breakfast”, it is now one of the top line items in a marketing budget for major corporations across the world. No wonder Facebook is changing their policies.
We also have a lot to say about the hazards and risks of living in a digital world, especially in the context of parenting and raising children.
Nurturing from afar
A few weeks ago, our family had an interesting experience. Heidi’s 80+ year old mother called (who lives 1600 km south of us) to let us know that she had just broken her ankle and would be heading to a clinic to pick up a wheelchair. Heidi’s nurturing gene immediately kicked in (although it is rarely turned off). She called me to discuss that she would most likely need to fly down to be with her mom (and dad) to help care for her during this difficult time. We, of course, agreed and made plans accordingly. In the “old” days, as a family, we would have planned for a significant absence of her in our life.
But today, it’s different. Due to the gift of technology, Heidi was able to continue (to a large extent) her role as a mother and wife to all of us while she was away.
She talked to Sofia by Facetime, as Sofia waded through how to create her “sheep” for POL Night. Heidi texted reminders to me as she/we followed our family sharing calendar and she continued to manage the calendar in terms of appointments etc. from afar. She called the kids nightly to wish them a good night, etc. —both Facetime and otherwise. Did we have our share of dropped calls and frustration that our wireless systems were not working? Of course. Did we pay extra for having this amount of connection? Yes, as well. Bottom line—she stayed deeply invested in the rhythm of our daily lives and could continue to support us via technology. Certainly not the same as being here, but definitely not completely absent either.
Leading and Flourishing
I believe the access we have to technology and the tools we have at our fingertips are amazing gifts to help us flourish. Yes, we are sinners and, like all things in this world, we have the ability to make a mess of it and use it for evil.
We also should be careful not to allow technology to become an idol and take us away from authentic relationships. But we must also be brave enough to be early adopters, to take the risks necessary to help lead our kids in this new world. We must be the innovators who strive to use the tools God gave us to help Shape His World. I believe that the posture we take in this is important.
I’m proud of ACS’ foray into digital learning. It is where our kids will be living as adults and we’ve always held firm to the concepts of “Real World, Real Need, and Real People.” Understanding and living in a digital world is paramount in today’s day. We will be careful, we will be diligent, and we will be age appropriate.
But we are not a school who trumpets “surviving an awful/sinful world.” No, we are a school who believes in helping to shape God’s world!