Here at Miracle Camp we are dedicated to being a learning-based Youth Service Organization that responds to and implements technology in appropriate ways, while also sharing what we learn with parents desiring to train a godly generation in a media saturated culture. Serving thousands of students each year, the Miracle Camp ministry team sees the need for balance and even boundaries that will protect and influence the next generation of Christ followers. In this three part blog series we hope to provide rationale behind implementing our device free policy for Summer Camps in 2019.
Recently in the Bankson Lodge lobby, a senior high boy boasts, “122 likes…Look!” after sharing his afternoon activities on Instagram. Meanwhile on the other side of the camp, another camper walks alone and retreats into their screen, deciding to try and steal away a few moments with friends “back home.”
Both are examples of how our tech offers us constant connectedness today. With voice command assistants at the ready as instant fact-checkers at our command or the temptation to snap a selfie and share a moment with friends far and wide, today’s campers, known as digital natives, thrive on Instagram likes or taking enviable snaps as everyday life activities.
The PC, tablet, and smartphone adoption rate in the last decade have topped out and now are giving way to even newer generations of wearable technology and smart devices. Intended to make life easier, technology manages tasks faster, more efficient, while simultaneously offering a new realm of creativity. While these optimizations may add simplicity to our lives, we also seem constantly distracted by them, if even dependent at times. Being connected is a powerful tool we must help our students steward well.
Technology provides a path that allows people to channel their human drives, such as connecting with others, portraying social status, competing and achieving objectives, learning and acquiring knowledge, and more. It is also highly customizable, engaging individuals through unique and personal interests (CCCA). Morally neutral, technology gives humans an entire world at the tips of our fingers, offering us an infinite capacity to use it for good or allowing it to expose the darkness of the heart.
In today’s world, “from the moment we get out of bed until we crash at night, life feels like a buzz of attention-grabbing technology and busyness.” (1) As technology has infiltrated nearly every aspect of society, dependency has given way to indulgence.
The underlying danger in our inability to limit use can be affirmed with data. For example, of people ages 18 – 24, 78% use Snapchat on a regular basis, and 95% of teens either have, or have access to a smartphone (Pew Research). 45% of teens indicate that they are online “almost constantly” (see chart). Still yet, the culture of busyness is starting at younger ages each year making it more challenging for summer campers to unplug and connect with God. (2)
What many find surprising to hear for the first time is that social media likes trigger the same brain activity as drug use. Social media platforms “leverage the very same neural circuitry used by slot machines and cocaine to keep us using their products as much as possible.” (3)
Though the addiction can be subconscious, many kids are aware. According to CCCA, 50% of kids recognize they are addicted and 65% wish they had a better ability to self-limit the amount of time on their phones. 26% would even report they wish someone would impose limits on their screen time. Not only is the addiction a concern, but kids are finding technology to be emotionally burdensome, even anxiety inducing. (4)
We work for Summer Camp to be an intentional time away from what is familiar for a student to own their faith in Jesus; often times the constant presence of devices gets in the way. We want to help students find a balance of technology in life, using it as a tool for God’s glory, while living free from the grip of its constant allure. Without the constant buzz in pockets, even just for one week, this freedom allows students to focus on spiritual formation, relationship building, and being fully present in the life right in front of them. While screen time boundaries are nothing new to savvy parents, we find value in the practice of a regular detox that reinforces healthy boundaries and rhythms.
For the first time this summer, we are asking parents to help create a safe and undistracted environment by leaving devices at home. Having a conversation about why this policy is important with your students may help them prepare for any anxieties related to detaching from devices. Check back next week for the second installment of our tech series as we share more of the thought process behind making summer camp the best week ever!
1. Quote from article found at https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/july-web-only/how-to-witness-to-distracted-world-disruptive-witness-noble.html
2. Stats taken from sources at http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/
3. Quote from http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2018/dopamine-smartphones-battle-time/
4. MCRC is affiliated with CCCA and has benefited tremendously from their network and resources on the topic. More info can be found at https://www.ccca.org/ccca/Vision,_Mission,_Values.asp