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Challenges in the Task of Training Children — Part 2

July 12, 2024
By Mr. Josh Bullard

What happened in the early 2010s that altered adolescent development and worsened mental health? According to the Pew Research Center, in 2011, only 23% of teens had a smartphone. By 2015, that number had risen to 73%, and a quarter of teens said they were online “almost constantly.”

God created humans to experience His creation. Children experience the world around them primarily through the medium of play. For children of all ages, one of the most powerful drivers of learning is the strong motivation to play. One of the crucial aspects of play is physical risk-taking. Teens have an even greater desire for increased risks and thrills, when failure may carry more serious consequences. Young people who are deprived of opportunities for risk-taking and independent exploration will, on average, develop into more anxious and risk-averse adults.

The pervasive use of smartphones has altered childhood. “Once young people began carrying the entire internet in their pockets, available to them day and night, it altered their daily experiences and developmental pathways across the board. Friendship, dating, sexuality, exercise, sleep, academics, politics, family dynamics, identity—all were affected.” Real-world experiences have been replaced by virtual activities that are nothing like the read-world experiences that God created children to encounter.

The smartphone has changed childhood from shared outdoor experiences to isolated indoor virtual experiences. Perhaps the most devastating cost of the new phone-based childhood is the collapse of time spent interacting with other people face-to-face.

Next time… what are the differences between digital communications and real-world, face-to-face communications, and what are the consequences of swapping the latter for the former?

Challenges in the Task of Training Children — Part 1

July 01, 2024
By Mr. Josh Bullard

God gives children to parents (Psalm 127:3-5) and gives parents the responsibility of training their children (Deut. 6:7-9, Prov. 22:6, Eph. 6:4). Many parents seek help in that process from others, often church and school. Christian Heritage Academy exists for that very purpose — “to assist the home and the church in building a solid foundation in the life of each student.”

While Satan uses a variety of tools to bring about harm in families, to “kill, steal, and destroy” (John 10:10), evidence is mounting that the primary tool for harm in our culture is smartphones in general, and social media in particular.

Consider the following facts adapted from Jonathan Haidt’s recent #1 New York Times bestseller entitled The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness and summarized in an article entitled "The Terrible Costs of a Phone-Based Childhood", published in The Atlantic, March 13, 2024.

Something went suddenly and horribly wrong for adolescents in the early 2010s. By now you’ve likely seen the statistics: rates of depression and anxiety in the United States—fairly stable in the 2000s—rose by more than 50 percent in many studies from 2010 to 2019. The suicide rate rose 48 percent for adolescents ages 10 to 19. For girls ages 10 to 14, it rose 131 percent.

The problem was not limited to the U.S.: Similar patterns emerged around the same time in in numerous countries around the world. By a variety of measures and in a variety of countries, the members of Generation Z (born in and after 1996) are suffering from anxiety, depression, self-harm, and related disorders at levels higher than any other generation for which we have data.

The decline in mental health is just one of many signs that something went awry. Loneliness and friendlessness among American teens began to surge around 2012. Academic achievement went down, too. According to “The Nation’s Report Card,” scores in reading and math began to decline for U.S. students after 2012, reversing decades of slow but generally steady increases. PISA, the major international measure of educational trends, shows that declines in math, reading, and science happened globally, also beginning in the early 2010s.

What happened in the early 2010s that altered adolescent development and worsened mental health? The answer can be stated simply: “Once young people began carrying the entire internet in their pockets, available to them day and night, it altered their daily experiences and developmental pathways across the board.”

Next time. . . How have smartphones affected childhood?

Summer Fun

May 06, 2024
By Dr. Susan DeMoss

In 2019, CHA received its first $1 million gift, with $600,000 designated toward a professional development endowment. Over the last five years, the school has awarded over $150,000 in continuing education grants for student learning. This year, forty grants were awarded for approximately $31,000. The grants ranged from curriculum development to conference opportunities at Answers in Genesis and Wall Builders.

While summer is a time for family and church, it also presents a unique opportunity for personal and professional growth. We are grateful to the generous donors who continue to invest in CHA’s professional development endowment, enabling us to offer these opportunities. As Luke 6:40 reminds us, “A student is not above his teacher. For when he is fully trained, he will be like him.”

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