I suspect Andy Crouch’s new book The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place will be a game-changer for many families. He doesn’t so much lay out the “how to” on protecting your family and kids from the wiles of devices and the internet, but rather shares a much-needed paradigm for thinking about technology.
“The main thing we all want you to know is that it is possible to love and use all kinds of technology but still make radical choices to prevent technology from taking over our lives” (29). The following excerpts from The Tech-Wise Family give you a sense of Crouch’s desire to discern technology use rather than provide a simple formula.
Technology is in its proper place when…
Technology is in its proper place when it helps us bond with the real people we have been given to love. It’s out of its proper place when we end up bonding with people at a distance, like celebrities, whom we will never meet.
Technology is in its proper place when it starts great conversations. It’s out of its place when it prevents us from talking with and listening to each other.
Technology is in its proper place when it helps us take care of the fragile bodies we inhabit. It’s out of its proper place when it promises to help us escape the limits and vulnerabilities of those bodies altogether.
Technology is in its proper place when it helps us acquire skill and mastery of domains that are the glory of human culture (sports, music, the arts, cooking, writing, accounting; the list could go on and on). When we let technology replace the development of skill with passive consumption, something has gone wrong.
Technology is its proper place when it helps us cultivate awe for the created world we are part of and responsible for stewarding (our family spent some joyful and awe-filled hours when our children were in middle school watching the beautifully produced BBC series Planet Earth). It’s out of its proper place when it keeps us from engaging the wild and wonderful natural world with all our senses.
Technology is in its proper place only when we use it with intention and care. If there’s one thing I’ve discovered about technology, it’s that it doesn’t stay in its proper place on its own; much like my children’s toys and stuffed creatures and minor treasures, it finds its way underfoot all over the house and all over our lives. If we aren’t intentional and careful, we’ll end up with a quite extraordinary mess. (Shared on pages 20–21.)
The Crouch Family’s Ten Tech-Wise Commitments
1. We develop wisdom and courage together as a family.
2. We want to create more than we consume. So we fill the center of our home with things that reward skill and active engagement.
3. We are designed for a rhythm of work and rest. So one hour a day, one day a week, and one week a year, we turn off our devices and worship, feast, play, and rest together.
4. We wake up before our devices do, and they “go to bed” before we do.
5. We aim for “no screens before double digits” at school and at home.
6. We use screens for a purpose, and we use them together, rather than using them aimlessly and alone.
7. Car time is conversation time.
8. Spouses have one another’s passwords, and parents have total access to children’s devices.
9. We learn to sing together, rather than letting recorded and amplified music take over our lives and worship.
10. We show up in person for the big events of life. We learn how to be human by being fully present at our moments of greatest vulnerability. We hope to die in one another’s arms. (Shared on pages 41–42.)
Read The Tech-Wise Family for further explanation of how these commitments are fleshed out in the Crouch family.