Andy Crouch. The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2017. 224 pp. $11.00.
Modern families who care about their children must consider how technology impacts their lives. Andy Crouch recognizes this truth, and shares with us some strategies that he and his family have tried to implement in order to manage the challenges of 21st century living.
I read this book upon my wife’s recommendation. She had heard Any Crouch on a podcast, and she thought that his book could offer our family some well-needed guidance. We have 3 little ones in our home, all of whom love their devices. How can we help to keep our house from becoming one of those places where a family communicates more through texts than through conversation?
Crouch offers some lovely and lively looks into his family and their decision-making process regarding technology. Perhaps the greatest benefit of this book is that Crouch suggests a God-centered approach to keeping all of the parts of life in their place. It is wise for a family to determine how, when, and where they wish to use technology. Once those decisions are made, it is helpful for a family to structure their home, even in its shape, so as to make this strategy more possible to pull off.
One example is that the Crouch family has made parts of their home sort of tech-free zones. In those places, the family makes sure to have other things available to occupy minds. Musical instruments, art supplies, and books to read help make certain parts of a home places where a child may not feel the immediate pull of a device on his or her young mind.
Another beauty of this book is that it is not a couple hundred pages of horror stories. Yes, there is a chapter on the dangers of sexually explicit content on the Internet. But even that chapter does a great job of pointing out that the heart behind being careful here is a heart of godliness.
The weakness in this book is a weakness that I find almost unavoidable in such a work. Crouch, as he shares his family’s standards, can tend toward a tone of legalism. For example, the book demonstrates a Sabbatarian shape, and the rules that he promotes regarding tech and the Sabbath are surely not for everybody. At the same time, as a non-Sabbatarian, I find Crouch’s handling of that theological topic unconvincing.
Other categories of Crouch family rules could be made legalistic if readers are not discerning. The author tells us of their family standard of 1 hour per day, 1 day per week, and 1 week per year when technology is put away. This is a good practice, but readers will need to be careful not to receive it as a universal rule. Similarly, the Crouch family tries to avoid tech while in the car. Again, this is a good rule, but it may not work for every family.
If you can read this book without receiving recommendations as rules, The Tech-Wise Family will be of great help. The ideas are creative. The concept of having everything in its place is wise. And, for sure, Christian families need to do some very real thinking about how to manage their technology instead of letting their technology manage them.