The Tech-Wise Family
In last week’s sermon we thought very briefly about the importance of keeping our technology in its proper place so that our screens do not strangle our soul. Without intentional effort, our screens will take time from pursing God, distract our attention from focusing on God, and dilute the joy we should have in God. One area we did not have a chance to focus on specifically is navigating technology use in the family. Raising kids has always required much wisdom, but there is no doubt that the proliferation of personal technology on our persons and in our homes (smart phones, Wi-Fi, tv's, tablets, smart watches, etc) has complicated the Christian parents responsibility to raise their children in the fear of the Lord.
In a 2017 survey done by the Barna group, almost 80% of parents with kids between 4 and 17 agreed that "raising kids today is more complicated than it was when they were kids." The number one reason given for why parenting today is more difficult? Technology. Among other things, the ability our children now have to be always online, always connected, leads to concerns that previous generations of parents did not face nearly as much but are acute problems today: (1) Immediate and easy access and exposure to pornography, (2) Keeping up to date with social media that children are using (3) Modeling to our children how to use tech well, (4) Online bullying, (5) Children sending or receiving sexual text messages, and (6) Monitoring the amount of time our children spend in front of the screen, just to name a few. In addition, there is an increasing body of research that demonstrates a direct correlation between increased time on our technology (particularly smart phones) and increased depression, loneliness, and anxiety. One book that both Pastor Chris and I are reading right now, for example, is called IGEN: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy, and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood.
How do we as Christians begin to implement biblical wisdom in how we will allow technology into our homes and families? Here is where I found The Tech-Wise Family, by Andy Crouch, to be very helpful. I would recommend that any Christian parent take the time to read this short book. Whether or not we find all of his ideas compelling, they serve as important conversation starters for parents on this incredibly pressing issue. Parents need to be talking about this issue and setting some boundaries in their homes, or their kids and their family relationships will suffer for it.
The book is built around his list of “Ten Tech-Wise Commandments,” which I list below. In follow up posts, I will summarize and offer some of my own analysis on each of these “commandments.”
Ten Tech-Wise Commandments for Families
- We develop wisdom and courage together as a family
- We want to create more than we consume. So we fill the center of our home with things that reward skill and active engagement.
- 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.
- We wake up before our devices do, and they go to bed before we do.
- We aim for no screens before double digits at school and at home.
- We use screens for a purpose, and we use them together, rather than using them aimlessly and alone.
- Car time is conversation time.
- Spouses have one another’s passwords, and parents have total access to children’s devices.
- We learn to sing together, rather than letting recorded and amplified music take over our lives and worship.
- 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.