“If there is one thing our children need to hear from us, over and over again, it’s this: Our family is different.” This quote comes from Andy Crouch in his book, The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place. He adds to the above quote, “The proper place for technology won’t be exactly the same for every family, and it is not the same at every season of our lives.”
Our Providence Foundations focus area this year will be on raising faithful children in a faithless world. One of the key challenges all parents wrestle with is how to handle the ubiquitous and tantalizing technologies that pose both benefits and challenges to us as parents. Whether you have kindergarten children or high school juniors, Christian parents must wrestle with this topic with prayerful intention.
Crouch understands the challenges of technology while embracing the wonderful benefits technology offers. He writes, “It is possible to love and use all kinds of technology but still make radical choices to prevent technology from taking over our lives.” The Tech-Wise Family offers much more than a list of dos and don’ts. Instead, Crouch offers guiding principles and some philosophical and biblical support for his recommendations.
Here are just three of his suggestions for families to consider:
No screens before double digits – Perhaps the most radical of his ideas, he recommends that screens be largely avoided until children are at least ten years old. We owe our children, writes Crouch, “embodied, difficult, rewarding learning, the kind that screens cannot provide.” It’s not too late to try this, he says. While the withdrawal process can be hard, it can lead to a more engaged and happier family.
We wake up before our devices, and they ‘go to bed’ before we do – Find a central place in the home (far from the bedrooms) and park the screens there before bedtime. Seek to do something in the morning (reading, eating, praying) before plugging in. Readers of Habits of the Household will recognize this tip!
Car time is conversation time – While there are times for technology use in the vehicle, Crouch recommends conversations, citing a study that indicates a good conversation usually takes about seven minutes to begin. Music and audiobooks are played through a “wePod” so that it’s more communal than earbuds allow.
Note that some of these suggestions are as much for adults as they are for our children. Crouch is honest about how his family has managed to follow his own advice, admitting their struggles in consistently hitting their goals. Read this book: it offers profound insight not only into how we can raise our children, but in how we can use the same principles to find balance in our lives as adults as well.