In response to the constant use of social media and cell phones, Campbell Hall invited a technology expert who consults with law enforcement to speak with our 7th graders in small groups. You could see the eyes of students get bigger as she described all of the hidden perils of sharing too much information in a system where there are very few safeguards. The next day during my 7th grade World Religions class, the students were reflecting on the presentation and I could tell that it had impacted them in ways that I had not seen before. They wanted to talk about how they might better navigate this fast moving and at times foreign world of social media. They admitted that social media for them was addictive. It is somewhat rare to hear thirteen-year-old students admit to such a failing. I even attempted to cut them some slack by saying that every generation has the tendency to be self-absorbed. However, they insisted that it was a serious problem.
When I asked what might be done, one boy said “We need a leader to help us through this problem, because we cannot do it ourselves.” You could hear his voice a yearning for help and a sense that the problem was bigger than he could put his mind around. From this student’s initial response, I probed the rest of the class about what kind of leader that may be. Then based on prior classroom discussions, I asked them the question: “Is there anything greater than themselves that might provide guidance?” For example, how might Holy Scriptures provide insight? From there we had a conversation about how the various world religions we had been studying might provide some insight into this challenge.
When we bring Holy Scripture and social media together we are able to make connections and look at our world with new eyes.
About the Author
The Rev. Norman Hull is the K-8 Chaplain at Campbell Hall in North Hollywood, California. He has served as a parish priest and chaplain during his 22 years of ordained ministry. He graduated from Claremont McKenna College in 1985 and CDSP (Church Divinity School of the Pacific) in 1995.