by Martha Fairley • Director of K-12 Instructional Technology, ELCA Connect Online Learning, and STEM Coordinator
Technology is not neutral. When I was a child growing up, the day my mother got a washer and dryer changed the entire household. Certain traditions were laid aside and there were significant savings of her time. When I don’t know where I’m going, instead of having to pull over and read a map I use the GPS in my car to give me immediate feedback. My mobile phone puts me in connection with anyone in the world right at my fingertips (although I don’t know anyone’s number by heart ). These examples encompass time savings, instant feedback, prompt reminders, and the feeling of being safe and connected at all times.
Luke 12:48 says, “To whom much is given, much will be required”. I am convinced that as God has allowed the influx of technology into our lives and the lives of our students and children, He requires us to use it in a way that is pleasing to Him. My prayer each day in my AP Computer Science Principles course is that with all the technology we use and skills we are learning, we would use them in a way that is pleasing to God and not in a way that grieves His Spirit.
Teaching students and adults to use technology responsibly is the start to honoring God in technology use. Here are some practical ways to teach responsible use at home and in the classroom:
- Have real conversations – Technology is a huge part of our lives…students, teachers, parents. It is important as parents and teachers to help students realize that the use of technology is a privilege not a right. Don’t be afraid to have conversations and set up rules for the use of technology in the home…as teachers, we have rules for technology use in the classroom.
–Ephesians 4:15a – Instead, speaking the truth in love;
- Encourage future thinking – Online material is forever! How do you want the world to see you? Don’t just focus on the now! How will what you have said or pictures you have online from Spring Break affect your future opportunities?
–Proverbs 16:3 – Commit
to the Lord whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans.
- Be respectful – Don’t say or do anything online to hurt or humiliate anyone. According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, 24% of students in the same grades nationwide said they have been cyberbullied at one point or another; 16% of students admitted they have cyberbullied someone else.
–Ephesians 4:32a – Be kind and compassionate to one another;
- Protect your privacy and the privacy of others – check your privacy settings on websites and social media sites. Read the fine print and understand what you are agreeing to in the Terms and Conditions. Never share personal information about yourself and don’t share or receive passwords.
–1 Peter 5:8 – Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Achieving an acceptable boundary between autonomy and safety is important in school and at home. It’s unrealistic to expect teenagers to avoid the internet but arming teenagers and adults with the skills and knowledge needed to utilize the internet safely is the best course of action. Always put a Biblical worldview lens in front of every thought, trend, and event in this digital world, and continue growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Martha Fairley has been at ELCA since 2006 moving from Raleigh, NC. Martha is the Director of Technology and also serves as the Director of Online Learning and the STEM Coordinator. Martha has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science with a minor in Mathematics from Jackson State University, a Master of Education degree with a concentration in Curriculum & Instruction from Seattle Pacific University, and an Education Specialist degree in Instructional Technology from Valdosta State University. Martha is a Google Level 2 Educator and a SMART Technologies Certified Trainer. She has been teaching in Christian education for over 18 years. Before teaching Martha was a software development manager with IBM in North Carolina & Virginia. She has been married to her husband Ron since 1986 and they have two boys, Marcus (ELCA 2010) and Brandon (ELCA 2014).