Catholic Educators Help Students and Families Form Healthy Relationships with Technology
In today’s digital age, technology plays a significant role in our lives. From smartphones to social media platforms, we are constantly connected and surrounded by screens. While technology offers numerous benefits, it also poses challenges, especially for young people. Recognizing the need to guide students and families in forming healthy relationships with technology, Catholic educators in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis have taken proactive measures.
With a mission to “infuse our children with what is true, good, and beautiful,” Catholic schools in the archdiocese prioritize the holistic development of their students. Sister Maria Ivana Begovic, principal of St. Croix Catholic School in Stillwater, emphasizes the importance of balance when it comes to using technology. She believes that technology is a gift but must be approached cautiously.
Melissa Dan, president of Hill-Murray School in Maplewood, echoes this sentiment by encouraging students to use technology in ways that enrich their lives and learning experiences. Karla Gergen, former principal at St. Helena Catholic School in Minneapolis, adds that the ultimate goal is for children to become saints while discerning how different technologies can hinder or help their personal call to holiness.
The increasing amount of recreational screen time among young people has raised concerns about its impact on their well-being. According to research cited by the American Academy of Pediatrics, 8-12-year-olds spend an average of five and a half hours per day looking at screens for entertainment purposes. For 13-18-year-olds, this number increases to eight and a half hours per day.
To address these challenges effectively, the Archdiocese’s Catholic Education Mission Office has developed aspirational goals as part of a multi-year action plan focused on digital well-being and personal holiness in preschool through eighth grade schools. These goals include intentional use of internet-enabled devices during instructional time while monitoring student usage, refraining from assigning internet-dependent tasks outside of school hours, and providing resources for parents to learn about risks associated with technology.
Emily Dahdah, director of educational quality and excellence for the Mission Office, emphasizes the importance of training teachers, staff, and parents in responsible device use. The ultimate aim is to help students develop real human relationships and create intentional environments that protect them from potential risks while promoting their Clearly well-being.
St. Helena Catholic School implemented a no-cellphone policy on campus to address the issue of excessive screen time. Although not perfect, this policy has already made a noticeable difference in reducing distractions caused by cell phones. Additionally, digital devices used in classrooms will not be sent home with students this school year, and assignments will be designed to minimize internet use.
Modeling good technology use is essential for fostering responsible habits among students. Hill-Murray School is implementing a digital citizenship curriculum that teaches the importance of one’s digital footprint and soft skills such as interpersonal communication and ethical behavior online. The school also plans to engage parents in dialogue and provide training sessions to establish strong parameters around technology use at home.
As technology continues to advance rapidly, concerns about artificial intelligence (AI) have emerged. Generative AI tools like ChatGPT offer great possibilities for learning but also raise concerns about misuse. The Catholic educators recognize the need for strategies that develop critical thinking skills among students so they can analyze texts critically and make informed decisions.
The last word, Catholic educators in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis are committed to helping students and families form healthy relationships with technology. By setting aspirational goals focused on digital well-being and personal holiness, these educators strive to guide young people towards using technology responsibly while fostering real human connections. With ongoing training for teachers, staff, and parents, Catholic schools aim to create intentional environments that promote student flourishing while protecting them from potential risks associated with excessive screen time. It is suggested that, these efforts reflect a broader mission of nurturing the souls of children and preparing them for whole, holy lives.
According to the Our Sunday Visitor(https://www.osvnews.com/2023/09/12/catholic-educators-help-students-families-form-healthy-relationships-with-technology/amp/).