Monday, September 14, 2015

Teen Mental Health and Social Media

It's pretty phenomenal - around 90% of teens around the world are using social media sites like Facebook or Twitter or Instagram.  According to researchers referenced in the article link, below, the resulting effects on teenager's well-being is mixed:

Using smart phones to look up Bible commentaries in chapel
Scott Campbell, an associate professor of communication studies at the University of Michigan, made the point that teenage engagement with social media "is not all bad." "There is another side to this story, and that is that kids are getting a lot of social support through social media," said Campbell, who was not involved with the study. Still, "research has also shown that there is definitely a causal path between social media use and lower well-being in general," he added.

The "study" mentioned above is one carried out by British researchers who found that generally,

 "The more teens engaged with social media and the more they were emotionally invested in site participation, the greater the risk for impaired sleep, poor self-esteem, depression and/or anxiety."

Of particular interest to parents, perhaps, is that student's risk factors rose considerably when they were using social media sites at night - no real surprise, since social media activity after bedtime would obviously compromise healthy sleep patterns.

Readers wanting to learn more can find the whole article here:
Constant Social Media Presence May Jeopardize Teens' Mental Health

As you might imagine, the use of media devices among students has produced a great deal of thinking and talking in education circles. Some schools, public and private, have tried to severely restrict or prohibit the use of such devices during the school day. Other schools, DPCA among them, have made the choice to include and even embrace the use of personal devices during the school day, believing that they are a settled fixture of our culture and that learning to use them well is now or should be part of a student's overall education.

Here are things we're working on at school that parents can help encourage:
  1. Use devices and your connections with others well: be edifying, uplifting, and encouraging in your posts and exchanges online.
  2. Use your devices as the powerful learning tools they can be: look things up, verify evidence and arguments, find out things, add to your understanding, seek for wise solutions to problems, verify what you find with multiple sources.
  3. Use your devices appropriately: Be on guard against unhealthy use of time, distractions, separation from face-to-face relationships and obligations, etc.
Other thoughts as we strive to raise healthy teens in a social-media world:
  1. Be on the same social media sites as your teens, and "follow" them as they post. Be part of their online world!
  2. Schedule your internet connection to go offline during the night on whatever schedule fits your family - but probably at least from midnight to early morning? That way there's no temptation to your teen to be logging on during his or her primary sleeping hours.
  3. Make the use of social media part of your conversation - if you don't know how, let your teen teach you. Talk about what healthy social media use looks like.
  4. Be mindful of our adult example: are we good stewards of time and social media use? As our kids watch us, are they seeing a good example of how to manage it well?
As Dr. Campbell notes, there are a number of positive aspects to living in our wireless, connection-saturated world. And of course, there are pitfalls as well. Thanks for praying for one another in our school community as we work together to help students grow up with "the wisdom that comes from heaven [which] is first of all pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere." (James 3:17)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

DPCA Class of 2013 Alumnus Receives Academic Honors

LONGVIEW, Texas - Micah Ritschard of Buena Vista was named to the Spring 2015 President's List at LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas. The President's List recognizes students who have achieved a perfect 4.0 grade point average to receive this honor.

LeTourneau University President Dr. Dale A. Lunsford said being named to the President's List is a significant academic achievement and honor.

"LETU students are among our nation's best," Lunsford said.  "I'm especially impressed with these honor roll students. Expect them to have a significant impact on our future."

LeTourneau University is a comprehensive institution of Christ-centered higher education where educators engage students to nurture Christian virtue, develop competency and ingenuity in their professional fields, integrate faith and work, and serve the local and global community. LETU offers a wide array of undergraduate and graduate degree programs in aviation, arts & sciences, business, education, engineering and nursing. Around 1,300 students study at LETU's main campus in Longview, Texas. LETU also offers a robust suite of online programs, as well as hybrid programs in Dallas and Houston.

Claiming every workplace in every nation as their mission field, LeTourneau University graduates are professionals of ingenuity and Christ-like character who see life's work as a holy calling with eternal impact. For additional information, visit

(August 28, 2015 press release from LeTourneau University; used by permission.)

Micah is a 2013 graduate of Darren Patterson Christian Academy who is studying mechanical engineering at LeTourneau.  DPCA has had three graduates continue their studies at LeTourneau; most recently including Joel Parker, a 2015 DPCA graduate who is beginning his first semester at LeTourneau, also in engineering. We're proud of all our students and our graduates!