Managing screen time (hello Siri!), tech devices (hello Alexa!), and technology overall (hello YouTube algorithms auto-feeding our children's minds!) has come to be a recurring area of desired improvement for parents. . . only to reach new levels since the pandemic turned real-life interaction into virtual interaction. It’s troubling to feel like technology is no longer supplementing our ways of life -- it’s substituting our ways of life.
"It’s troubling to feel like technology is no longer supplementing our ways of life -- it’s substituting our ways of life."
For a family who wants to balance the needs of schooling, socialization, engagement, and normal human interaction, what’s a parent to do? Andy Crouch has an excellent book from 2017 -- The Tech-Wise Family -- that could not be more relevant to 2021. It pairs perfectly and practically with Naomi Schaefer Riley's work in Be the Parent, Please by offering more tips on how to achieve tech-integration with moderation for you and your family:
“Making conscientious choices about technology in our families is more than just using internet filters and determining screen time limits for our children. It's about developing wisdom, character, and courage in the way we use digital media rather than accepting technology's promises of ease, instant gratification, and the world's knowledge at our fingertips. And it's definitely not just about the kids.
Drawing on in-depth original research from the Barna Group, Andy Crouch shows readers that the choices we make about technology have consequences we may never have considered. He takes readers beyond the typical questions of what, where, and when and instead challenges them to answer provocative questions like, Who do we want to be as a family? and How does our use of a particular technology move us closer or farther away from that goal? Anyone who has felt their family relationships suffer or their time slip away amid technology's distractions will find in this book a path forward to reclaiming their real life in a world of devices.”
"Social media is in large part making us less social."
If you’re interested in hearing more before reading more, check out Andy’s 18-minute Q Talk on Managing Technology. In summary: “Over half of children think that their parents check their phone too often, with a quarter of parents agreeing they want to look at their devices less. Yet it’s difficult to pry ourselves away from technology, so social media is in large part making us less social. Andy Crouch helps us think through utilizing tech in a way that contributes to relationships.”
To jumpstart your tech-moderated 2021, consider applying any of Andy’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.