Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Technology and the Christian - Part 8

(Check out previous posts to get the context of today's article. Part 1 here; Part 7 here)

Rather than doing a lot of reading ourselves and encouraging our children to read, we spend time in front of the TV or with our computers and teach our children to do the same! Consider the important impact reading time has on student performance in school:

“Buried in the depths of the Kaiser report Generation M is a startling finding about different media use and student achievement. It shows that leisure reading of any kind correlates more closely with a students's grades than an other media. While eight to 18 year olds with high and low grades differed by only one minute in TV time, they differed in reading time by 17 minutes, (46-29) a huge discrepancy in relative terms ( a 36 percent drop in leisure reading for kids with low grades.” (Dumbest, page 90)
What this is saying is that students with low grades spend considerably less time reading than students with good grades.

We've become addicted to our screens:
The screen...promotes multitasking and discourages single-tasking, hampering the deliberate focus on a single text, a discrete problem. 'Screen mindedness' prizes using search engines and clicking 20 websites not the plodding, 10 hour passage through a 300 page novel. It searches for information, fast, too impatient for the long-term acquisition of facts and stories and principles.” (Dumbest, page 115)

This kind of multitasking and rapid skimming is detrimental to grasping the facts, stories and principles found in any text, but most important for us, God's word. If you are a Christian, you need to take this information seriously. As a parent, you need to make sure that your young person is not losing his ability to concentrate. You have a responsibility to set the example and then establish the expectation that in your home there will be technology-free times when time is devoted to quiet reading and meditation. Just writing the previous sentence sounded strange. When does anyone have time where there is no input from TV, radio, or the Internet? Some people will suggest that reading is a thing of the past and is no longer necessary in our time when our technology serves as the conduit for our information. The problem is, and you need to think about this carefully – the problem is that the God of the universe has chosen to speak to us in written words. Those who cannot read those words either because of illiteracy or inability to focus will not hear from God!

But, you may say, is it necessary to read? What about listening to God's Word? Doesn't that count? The answer is yes, but how often does anyone sit and listen to the Word of God being read to them? How easy is it in our video-centric culture to sit and listen to words being read for an extended period of time with no other interruptions or input. I think you can see that listening happens less than reading does and is at least equally difficult.

...to be continued....

Part 9 available once it's been published here.

PDF version of the entire series

Bauerlein, Mark. The Dumbest Generation. New York: Tarcher/Penguin, 2008.

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