2nd December 2014
To Whom It May Concern
As a Principal of one of the World’s leading digital schools, Varsity College, I can’t help but be worried by the potential damage that the current digital environment is doing to the emotional well being of today’s youth. Varsity College is located on the Gold Coast in Australia with a student population of 3200 students. The school is part of the Microsoft Showcase Schools program, Internationally recognised for the digital learning platform that is considered to be one of the leading examples in the world. Staff from Varsity College, including myself, speaks at conferences all around the world on how an effective digital learning environment can be created and how this can significantly improve student learning outcomes. Varsity College student academic performance is considered to be the best of public schools in the Gold Coast region.
The educational benefits that can be derived from the use of digital learning are immense, but all of this cannot be considered profitable if it creates dysfunctional youth who lack the competencies and disciplines to succeed in life. Increasingly we are now seeing cases where digital technologies are causing a wide variety of social disorders. Digital technologies are breaking families apart and isolating family members from each other due to poor discipline from both parents and students. We are rapidly facing a new epidemic of digital addiction, where students cannot live without complete access to their digital technologies. This places them at odds with their parents, teachers and authority figures and aligns them with their friendship groups more than ever before. As a Principal of many years’ experience and a father of 3 teenagers, I am continually confronted with the stark reality that we need a new approach to combat the imminent destructive force of digital technology.
Three years ago, I was asked to meet with Brad Huddleston and talk through what he was trying to achieve in his digital talks. It was apparent that Brad and I came from different points of view, but at the core of our passions were the same beliefs and fears. Brad is a highly gifted educator and a man with a clear passion for the youth and families of today. His understanding of digital addictions is of the highest quality I have come across, but more importantly, his heart understanding of the youth and their issues is without peer. As a Principal, I have seen many so called “cyber safety” experts come and deliver talks to parents and students. These are informative and ring a bell with everyone, but few result in transformational actions. Brad Huddleston has an equal amount of knowledge, but he combines this with an incredible heart that wants to truly transform the lives of our young men and women who have become trapped in the addictive powers of digital technologies.
Brad has become a school partner with Varsity College. We seek to have him speak with our students and their parents every year. His message cannot be oversold and the transformational behaviours he is seeking to create need to be reinforced year in and out. The parents and students of this incredible school have a true love and respect for Brad and embrace his message. We as a school recommend Brad to all other schools irrespective of their digitalisation. Students are trapped in their digital paradigm even if their school has not embraced digital learning platforms. We need as educate students and parents about the dangers and realities of digital equipment and Brad presents an incredible and powerful message that resonates with all members of the community.
Personally I commend Brad to you as an inspirational person. Brad and his wife Beth, are committed to this mission of changing how are youth are effected unknowingly by digital technologies. When people ask how I know if Brad will engage students, I always refer back to my 16yo son who says; “Brad is really cool. His talk today was amazing. My friends loved it and learnt a heap. We didn’t know how much digital technology affects us.” As a parent, Brad is the best asset we have in dealing with three teenagers and their use of mobile phones, computers and game stations. Our point of reference has changed as we no longer have to create tension in our house over these issues. We can simply state; “What would Brad say?”
In my life I have met many incredible and amazing people, and Brad is one of these. He has an incredible gift and passion for the educational necessity of explaining the dangers of the overuse of digital technologies. The difference that he can make in the lives of our children and their families is profound and for this reason alone, I fully commend him to you.