How you heard of the “smart pen” which allows you to keep track of all the notes you’ve ever taken and easily share them with others? Similarly, there is now a “charging backpack” which lets you (and a number of friends) charge your portable device on-the-go. Our lives are definitely full of gadgets. Our dependence on technology has only grown in 2020 as COVID restrictions have forced us into increased online learning and socialization. While there are certain disadvantages and risks with this trend (some of which may be yet unmeasured) it’s good to remember the positive benefits of innovative tech in our lives.

You may have heard of the “Three C’s:” Connect, Create, Consume. In order to be healthy in education, work or life in general we all need to do some amount of creating, connecting and consuming. The three “C’s” can help us evaluate if we’re using technology advantageously or adversely.

Connect. To be healthy and thrive, all of us need human connection. We emotionally dry up and wilt without it. The definition of connecting is: “to join together so that a real link is established; to provide access and communication; to have relationship with someone.” Obviously, this isn’t one-sided; it’s a two-way exchange. Technology works for you when it links you to other people in meaningful, personal ways. Maybe you keep up with your parents via texting every day. Perhaps you stay in touch with friends in your home state as you interact with each other’s social media posts. Academically, connection often happens through online collaborative projects or interactive video discussions. Even if you’re more introverted, take advantage of these opportunities to engage with professors and other students. It will enhance your learning and fill some of your need for social interaction. If you’re falling short on connection, why not invite friends to play an online game or host a community dance lesson right in your dorm room (YouTube has some great teachers)!

Create. One of the highest levels of learning happens when we are able to take the information and skills we possess and turn them into something useful. Examples of this, when it comes to technology include: creating a digital journal or portfolio, learning to code, making something with a 3D printer, including cool graphics or animation in a presentation, composing/performing music using a hands-on app, or writing a blog. Wise educators include these creative endeavors as required elements of learning. But they are avenues we can access as hobbies, as well. Creativity is wired into us as part of how we reflect God’s image and is important to overall thriving. People with at least one consistent creative outlet have been shown to be happier, physically healthier, and to have a sense of life purpose. Technology works for you when you use it to make something interesting, helpful or beautiful.

Consume. The internet has opened a world of accessibility to mind-boggling amounts of information! One common pitfall of technology is that is can become totally about consumption, while connection and creativity (which often involve more emotional and mental effort) go by the wayside. However, not all consumption is bad. For example, we consume food and water to survive! And who doesn’t enjoy sharing or receiving a funny gif or meme? Or appreciate an online tutorial on how to change your oil? We have access to podcasts on every subject under the sun—from meteorology to economics to health to mythology. We can take classes on web design, painting, message or Pilates. We can virtually tour almost anywhere on earth. Maybe most important of all, we have the privilege of taking in biblical teaching, Christian music and a myriad of spiritual help through prayer and Scripture apps, music platforms and online Christian forums. Technology works for you when it infuses you with laughter, learning and spiritual growth.

With the “C’s” of technology we need to be evaluating quality (Am I connecting with healthy, helpful people? Am I creating useful, beneficial things? Are the things I’m consuming helping me to grow and become stronger?) and also quantity (because too much of even the best things in life inevitably become bad for us). Someone once likened the three “C’s” to breathing in and out—consume is more about the intake, create is our productivity and outtake, and connect, when done well, is both. All of us thrive best when we are consuming, connecting and creating in a balanced way. What can you do to tweak your technology balance this week?