We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.–Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)
I recently attended a webinar conversation hosted by the Trinity Forum Society featuring two of my favorite contemporary authors, Andy Crouch and Jonathan Haidt. I am currently reading Haidt’s book, The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting up a Generation for Failure. I highly recommend this book to parents who are concerned about their children’s capacity to cope with life’s challenges and hardships, and who desire to raise resilient children. Below are a few gems I wrote down from the webinar, entitled, “After Babel: Reclaiming Relationship in a Technological World.” If you have an hour to invest in becoming a better parent and a better person, please click on this link to watch the webinar.
Regarding the harmful effects of technology, Andy Crouch observed that social media is not very social. In fact, it is a very lonely environment that does not require face-to-face interaction, which is necessary to build trust, empathy, and accountability. Jonathan Haidt was even blunter when he proclaimed that “technology has created structural stupidity. According to Haidt, smartphones are “experience blockers” that impede genuine interaction and authentic relationships. It reminded me of one of our former graduation speakers, Dr. Gregory Thornbury, who described smartphones as “electronic soul extinguishers.” Crouch lamented the fact that social media does not foster an environment of trust; it does not allow us to take risks and be appropriately vulnerable; it leaves no room for us to be human. He observed that very little of social media develops the Shema, that is the commandment “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your might.” According to Crouch, “we’ve got to get these devices (smartphones) out of childhood.”
Regarding the resiliency of children, Haidt claims that children are designed to be anti-fragile, which is quite opposite of how many of today’s parents view their children. He warns that over-protective, high anxiety, and fearful parenting that tries to protect children from all suffering, conflicts, disappointments, and failures actually produces weak and fragile adults. No wonder college professors and public speakers feel compelled to issue “trigger warnings” every time they bring up a controversial issue or state a position that does not fit the “woke” narrative.
Finally, the two authors spoke with the conviction that our culture’s addiction to technology and social media is an existential threat to our country. As Haidt puts it, “we can’t have a successful democracy without strong institutions and a citizenry that trusts those institutions.” Sadly, social media incites division among our nation’s people, distrust of our institutions, and contempt for our leaders. The emergence of social media has resulted in citizens who do not simply oppose their adversaries, they attempt to destroy them. There’s no room for compromise or a commitment to working for the common good, which are essential elements of a democratic republic. The “cancel culture” is unhealthy to a functioning democracy.
While this conversation was somewhat depressing, it was not void of hope. Andy Crouch believes that we can change our perspective on technology as instruments instead of devices. Our smart devices can be used for good if we view them as a tool for the edification of others. He also encourages Christian parents to “teach their children that they are part of a rescue mission–a redemptive project.” Isn’t that what Legacy’s mission is all about? Developing strong leaders with biblical convictions is an important step in helping the next generation of leaders to become agents of restoration.
Legacy's own Dr. Lana Snear recently drafted a blog guiding parents in terms of how she safely navigates technology with her own children. I encourage you to take a look at her recent post on technology safety.
May God continue to bless and equip the families and faculty who take on this essential mission.
Legacy Christian Academy is Frisco's preeminent Pre-K through 12 Christian school committed to educating students in a college preparatory environment balanced in academics, athletics, and fine arts–all within the context of a biblical worldview. For more information on Legacy, visit our admissions page.