Book Review: The Tech-Wise Family

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“The real purpose of family is to develop wisdom and courage—to give us a deep understanding of the world and an ability to act faithfully in that world.” The Tech-Wise Family (187).

The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch is an excellent read for families who are attempting to develop a theology and philosophy of technology within the confines of family life.  Many of you might also have read his work Culture Making a few years ago.  That was my first time reading anything of Andy Crouch’s and since then, I’ve tried to read everything he’s published.  This book asks great questions and gives the reader a chance to evaluate where they think the Lord might be “nudging” them to lead their family in the discussion about technology.  At the end of each section, Andy takes a moment to let the reader know how that particular ideal is really lived our (or not) in the Crouch house.

I highlighted several things while reading and have posted those notes below…

  • Tech-wise parenting isn’t simply intended to eliminate technology but to put better things in its place. p. 11
  • Wonder comes from opening your eyes wider, not bringing the screen closer. p. 13
  • This book is about how to find the proper place for technology in our family lives—and how to keep it there. p. 16
  • 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.  p. 19
  • Technology is in its proper place when it helps us bond with the real people we have been given to love.  It’s out of its proper place when we end up bonding with people at a distance whole we will never meet. p. 20
  • Technology is in its proper place when it starts great conversations.  It’s out of its proper place when it prevents us from taking with and listening to one another. p. 20
  • Technology is in its proper place when it helps us take care of the fragile bodies we inhabit.  It’s out of its proper place when it promises to help us escape the limits and vulnerabilities of those bodies altogether. p. 20
  • Technology is in its proper place when it helps us acquire skill and mastery of domains that are the glory of human culture.  When we let technology replace the development of skill with passive consumption, something has gone wrong. p. 20
  • Technology is in its proper place when it helps us cultivate awe for the created world we are a part of and responsible for stewarding.  It’s out of its proper place when it keeps us from engaging the wild and wonderful natural world with all our senses. p. 21
  • Technology is in its proper place only when we use it with intention and care.  If there’s one thing I’ve discovered about technology, it’s that it doesn’t stay in its proper place on its own, it finds its way underfoot all over the house and all over our lives.  If we aren’t intentional and careful, we’ll end up with a quite extraordinary mess. p. 21
  • The most powerful choices we will make in our lives are not about specific decisions but about patterns of life: the nudges of disciplines that will shape all our other choices. p. 37
  • Choose character-to make the mission of our family, for children and adults alike, the cultivation of wisdom and courage. p. 38
  • 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. p. 39
  • 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. p. 39
  • Ten Tech-wise commitments…
    • 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, fest, 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 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 in moments of greatest vulnerability. We hope to die in one another’s arms. p. 42
  • “The days of our life are seventy years, or perhaps eighty, if we are strong; even then their span is only toll and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.” Psalm 90:10 p. 51
  • Technology is a brilliant, praiseworthy expression of human creativity and cultivation of the world.  But it is at best neutral in actually forming human beings who can create and cultivate as we were meant to. p. 66
  • Sabbathless toil is a violation of God’s intention for our lives and our whole economy.  When we find ourselves in its grip, it means that we are slaves to a system of injustice.  Sometimes that slavery is external to us and all too real—we are genuinely bound to systems of toil that prevent us from a healthy life, with no good option for escape. p. 101
  • In the history of the human race, boredom is practically band new—less than three hundred years old. p. 139
  • We are not bored, exactly, just as someone eating potato chips is not hungry, exactly.  But overconsumption of distraction is just as unsatisfying, and ultimately sickening, as overconsumption of junk food. p. 147
  • So when we do sit down in front of a TV screen, it will be for a specific purpose and with a specific hope, not just of entertainment or distraction but of wonder and exploration.  When we do scroll through social media, it will be to have a chance to give thanks for our friends, enjoy their creative gifts, and pray for their needs, rather than just something to take our mind off our tedium. p. 149
  • Technology’s promise of shortcuts around the long path of wisdom and courage turns out to be a lie. p. 171
  • If mature adults struggle to handle the pipeline of temptation, titillation, and distraction that comes with 24/7 acres to the internet, there is no way still-developing teenagers can handle it. p. 176
  • The real purpose of family is to develop wisdom and courage—to give us a deep understanding of the world and an ability to act faithfully in that world. p. 187
  • Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (ESV) p. 190
  • Only by showing up in person can we feel and grasp the full weight, joy, and vulnerability of the most important experiences in human life. p. 199
  • The tech-wise family will choose a different way.  We will recognize that our daily bodily vulnerabilities, our illnesses, and our final journey to death are our best chance to reject technology’s easy-everywhere promise.  We will embrace something better: the wisdom of knowing our own limits, the courage to care for one another, and, just as difficult, the courage to accept one another’s care when we cannot care for ourselves.  We will put love into practice in the most profound possible way, but being present with one another in person at the greatest and most difficult moments of life. p. 203
  • We are meant to build this kind of life together: the kind of life that, at the end, is completely dependent upon one another; the kind of life that ultimately transcends, and does not need, the easy solutions of technology because it is caught up in something more true and more lasting than any alchemy our technology world can invent. p. 204
  • We are meant not just for thin, virtual connections but for visceral, real connections to one another in this fleeing, temporary, and infinitely beautiful and worthwhile life. p. 204

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