Let Andy Crouch Help Your Family Become Tech-Wise

As a parent, few things consume my thinking more than how we’ll use technology with our kids. I’ve read the statistics. I’ve seen what technology use can do. But, like many other parents, I still wonder how best to use technology in our family, which is why I’m thankful for Andy Crouch. In his new book, The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place, Crouch provides a helpful framework for families in their quest to use technology wisely in their homes.

The volume is divided into three parts. The first (chs. 1–3) is about the decisions of a tech-wise family. The second part (chs. 4–8) gets practical, zooming in on daily life in the tech-wise family. The third part (chs. 9–10) is a sort of “where we want to be” section about how a tech-wise family focuses on what matters most. With his “Ten Tech-Wise Commitments,” Crouch—formerly at Christianity Today and now a senior strategist for communication at the Templeton Foundation—shows parents that technology use in the home doesn’t have to be shaped by the surrounding culture, but can be intentional and promote the flourishing of every family member.

Creating a Better Alternative 

Crouch doesn’t just encourage parents to put down their phones or to limit screen time for their kids. Instead, he calls parents to be present in their homes. He’s not holding out a new set of rules, but a lifestyle of enjoying real-life people and experiences that can only happen by actually being present.

Parents (and children) will find a wealth of information in The Tech-Wise Family about how to enjoy the world. With each commitment, Crouch challenges our need to be endlessly entertained by bright lights. While technology expects us to merely consume someone else’s creativity, Crouch encourages us to create our own beauty, art, and culture. Of course, this takes work and intentionality. But in a lot of ways, he’s calling us back to what God designed us for. We were created to work, create, and rule over the world he made. We were created for real-life relationships that grow and develop over time (204).

[Crouch] gives a vision for a life of beauty, relationships, and creativity not enslaved to technology.

Crouch challenges our natural bent to provide a quick fix for our child’s boredom—and our desire to get things done without interruptions. As parents, it’s easy to hand our child a screen whenever we need a free moment. I’m guilty of it. Parents will find his exhortation to refrain from using screens to occupy our kids particularly convicting. As Crouch writes, “The less we rely on screens to occupy and entertain our children, the more they become capable of occupying and entertaining themselves” (133). By committing to embracing the boredom that comes with simply living in this world, parents are actually preparing their children to become adults who find meaningful things to fill their time, to enjoy people through relationships and conversation, and to truly rest rather than looking for mindless activity to fill the space.

The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place
Andy Crouch
Baker (2017). 224 pp.

In talking about the time just before dinner, he says, “We will never, ever figure out how to help our children—and ourselves—survive that maddening half hour before dinner if we always settle for the screen” (149). If it sounds countercultural, it is. Yet it’s also refreshing. Not only does Crouch challenge, but he also gives a vision for a life of beauty, relationships, and creativity not enslaved to technology.

Challenging Commitments

I mostly resonated with the commitments in The Tech-Wise Family and, while I felt challenged at times, I know any pushback that might arise in my own heart is likely owing to my own desire to keep technology front and center in my life. Yet there were points I wish Crouch had provided a few more caveats to his exhortations. A weary parent could read this book and feel overwhelmed by the many suggestions.

Perhaps it’s my season of life (a mom to three young kids and pregnant with a fourth), but I wondered if some more concrete examples for younger children would serve a parent seeking better alternatives to technology. All of Crouch’s suggestions for how to enjoy family time, though, made me look forward to the days when our family can do more things together.

We only get one life to live. Wouldn’t it be better spent enjoying and serving the world God made rather than a glowing screen?

What Will You Serve? 

Some might take issue with the radical nature of Crouch’s “tech-wise” commitments, wondering if a life with limited technology use is even possible. Whether or not your family adopts all his commitments, we would all be served by a more thoughtful and measured approach to technology.

While The Tech-Wise Family is a call to radical living, I’m fairly certain I won’t get to the end of my life wishing I’d spent more time browsing Facebook or watching Netflix. All of us—parents and non-parents alike—would do well to heed Crouch’s sage advice.

We only get one life to live. Wouldn’t it be better spent enjoying and serving the world God made rather than a glowing screen?