The Tech-Wise Family

Over the next few weeks we are going to be discussing a few technology tips on Tuesdays. I recently read The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch and thought it well suited for the modern family. It can be a daily guide to navigate our world that has become enmeshed with technology.

Here are some introductory remarks on the proper place of technology.

Technology is in its proper place when it helps us bond with the real people we have been given to love.

Technology is in its proper place when it starts great conversations.

Technology is in its proper place when it helps us take care of the fragile bodies we inhabit.

Technology is in its proper place when it helps us acquire skill and mastery of domains that are the glory of human culture.

Technology is in its proper place when it helps us cultivate awe for the created world we are part of and responsible for stewarding.

Technology is in its proper place only when we use it with intention and care.

A new approach to technology

A new or better approach to technology involves radically recommitting ourselves to what family is about – what real life is about. Our homes aren’t meant to be just refueling stations, places where we and our devices rest briefly, top up our charge, and then go back to frantic activity. They are meant to be places where the very best of life happens.

We are continually being nudges by our devices toward a set of choices. The question is whether those choices are leading us to the life we actually want. I want a life of conversation and friendship, not distraction and entertainment; but every day, many times a day I’m nudged in the wrong direction. One key part of the art of living faithfully with technology is setting up better nudges for ourselves.

Nudges will never, on their own, build the wisdom and courage we need -partly because we often can’t control our environment, not matter how much we’d like to. We need to change something inside of us as well: to develop the strength to make good choices even when everything around us is nudging, or pushing, us in the wrong direction. And for that we need disciplines.

Spiritual disciplines

The central disciplines of the spiritual life, as taught by generations of Christian saints, have stayed the same for twenty centuries: solitude, silence, fasting.

The discipline of Sabbath, for example, doesn’t just help us take one day a week to enjoy deep and restorative rest; it helps us make choices the rest of the week to avoid anxiety and pride. The most powerful choices we will make in our lives are not about specific decisions but about patterns of life.

Because technology is devoted primarily to making our lives easier, it discourages us from disciplines.

So here’s the plan

The first and deepest is to choose character -to make the mission of our family, for children and adults alike, the cultivation of wisdom and courage.

The second is to shape space -to make choices about the place where we live that put the development of character and creativity at the heart of our home.

And the third is to structure time -to build rhythms into our lives, on a daily, weekly, and annual basis, that make it possible for us to get to know one another, God, and our world in deeper and deeper ways.

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