For the past year, CTR Catholic has been laying the foundation for an initiative we call #Relationships in a Digital Age. The purpose of this initiative is to develop both curriculum and school culture to help students examine the impact that screen time and smartphones have on their relationships with God and each other, with an overarching personal wellness focus.
Parents and guardians will be key in this initiative for two reasons. First, the issue of screen-time becomes an issue at the very earliest of ages and parents need to be informed about healthy best practices for the benefit of their toddlers right through to the time they approach their school age years. Second, the issue of smartphone use becomes something parents should reflect on the moment they consider letting their children access a smartphone. And finally, with older children, parents are our key partner in talking to their children about what they are learning in school about screen time and smartphone use.
We are not attempting to vilify technology. Technology is amazing and used for many positive purposes. Instead, we are interested in raising awareness, promoting reflection, and giving both students and parents the information and tools they need to approach these issues thoughtfully. In fact, part of our communication strategy will rely on our ability to communicate electronically and strategically using social media.
#Relationships in a Digital Age will focus on encouraging our students to better connect with those they are with, to promote face-to-face interaction, to live in the present, to persevere without distraction, to avoid screen time that isolates or leads to over-indulgence, to take healthy relational risks, and to find the quiet of the mind in a way that will allow time for both God and others to be a part of their lives.
To better inform our parent and student community, we invite everyone to view the #Relationships video below. Please visit our website regularly for updates on this initiative.
We also encourage parents to talk to their children about the cultural changes they are seeing at their school with regard to school-wide initiatives that raise awareness about screen time and smartphone use. We will also be routinely circulating articles on this issue via direct email from school principals, our website, and social media. These cultural changes are step one. Step two is to develop lesson sets for students in Grades 4 to 11 to teach a #Relationships curriculum integrated into English Language Arts, Health, and/or CALM (Grade 11). If Bishop McGrattan approves, we have also considered integrating #Relationships into Religion. We plan to complete these lessons this year and begin implementing the curriculum next year.