Living tech-wise is even harder than it sounds. Last year I purchased (and recently finally devoured) this book by Andy Crouch: The Tech-Wise Family. I highly recommend it for anyone curious or concerned about how technology is shaping us. He’s not anti-technology; he just believes it should be kept in “its proper place.”
In 205 quick-to-read pages, Crouch shares a blend of: the ten commitments his family has chosen to live by; honest reflections on how well they’ve done; and research by the Barna Group about technology’s role in the lives of teens and families. The ten commitments are intentional practices of “choosing character,” “shaping space,” and giving structure to how we interact with technology, rather than mindlessly buying into whatever culture or retailers tell us we need, should have, or how we should arrange our homes.
Here are the “Ten Tech-Wise Commitments,” in my own words:
- Wisdom + Courage + Together
- Create > Consume
- No Screens for Littles
- Purposeful Screening
- Car Talk
- Showing Up
Crouch’s children are about a decade older than mine, so a rule like “no screens before age 10” would have been slightly less intimidating before the current preponderance of handheld devices in classrooms and on bodies at all times. That said, SO MUCH of what he says resonates with my own longings, laments, and promptings to choose to live differently regarding technology.
When I was growing up, we didn’t answer the home phone if it rang during dinner. Nowadays, it’s rare to share a meal (or spend time) with someone without their phone interrupting the conversation (multiple times). It used to be that parents had to compete with the tv for their kids’ attention; now kids also have to compete with their parents’ phones for their attention.
My favorite commitment that he describes is what I’ve termed Sabbath. He says:
“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.” (pg. 41)
We haven’t started practicing this yet, but I love that it communicates a deep value for spending uninterrupted time together as a family. Here’s my favorite part: Crouch says that when he goes away for that 1-2 weeks with his family, he sets up a filter on his email account to TRASH EVERYTHING that comes in and an auto-reply to let the senders know that HE WILL NEVER READ THEIR EMAIL (jaw drop).
One of the life-draining things about being away from the office is knowing that emails are still pouring into your inbox and you’ll spend a day or more sorting through them all. What a gift it would be–to yourself as well as to your workplace–to say “you can live without me for a week. If there’s something you can’t work out in the meantime and it needs my attention, let me know when I return.”
As the technology of the super-computer in my pocket advances and it’s ever-more connected with other devices in my home (lights, locks, speakers, scale, on and on), I’m finding it harder to leave it on the counter, put it away at least an hour before bed, or stop pulling it out to google an answer, check email, or see what’s happening on social media. Years ago, I turned off all notifications on my phone except texts. So if someone comments on my post, an email comes through, or Target has an awesome sale, I won’t know about it until I open that app. Telling my phone – no, I don’t need you to alert me 24 hours a day to all of the changes going on in all of my apps – that one simple move has given me back time and space.
How are you interacting with technology? Do you have intentional practices in your own life or family? Comment below so we can learn from each other.
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