Six ways to know if your home has technology in its proper place

Andy Crouch will be teaching at Regent College this summer.

It’s an excellent time to be pondering faith and technology at Regent College.

In December, professor Craig Gay published Modern Technology and the Human Future.

And this summer, Andy Crouch will be teaching Rebuilding the Household: Family and Church in the Technological Age (which will assign Craig Gay’s book for one of the readings).

Crouch is Partner for Theology and Culture at Praxis, and author of The Tech-Wise Family and Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling. He was executive editor of Christianity Today from 2012 – 2016. His work and writing have been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Time.

In anticipation of his course, Crouch offers these ‘Six Ways to Know if Your Home has Technology in its Proper Place.’ Most of the material is excerpted from his book, The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in its Proper Place.

Practically overnight – in the blink of an eye in terms of human history – we have filled our homes with technology. Each device we purchase promises to make our lives easier or more enjoyable, but collectively they seem to be having the opposite effect: in research for The Tech-Wise Family, my colleagues at Barna Group found that more than three in four parents say that raising children today is more complicated than it was for their own parents. Sixty-five percent attribute this to technology and social media.

What is the proper place for technology in a home? Figuring that out for any particular family and stage of life requires discernment rather than a simple formula. What’s most important is not to take technology’s “default settings” for granted. Our own family has found that technology does have a proper place in our home, but only if we shape our use of our devices according to these principles, rather than letting our devices shape us.

  1. 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, like celebrities, whom we will never meet.
  2. Technology is in its proper place when it starts great conversations. It’s out of its proper place when it prevents us from talking with and listening to one another.
  3. 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.
  4. Technology is in its proper place when it helps us acquire skill and mastery of domains that are the glory of human culture (sports, music, the arts, cooking, writing, accounting; the list could go on and on). When we let technology replace the development of skill with passive consumption, something has gone wrong.
  5. Technology is in its proper place when it helps us cultivate awe for the created world we are part of and responsible for stewarding (our family spent some joyful and awe-filled hours when our children were in middle school watching the beautifully produced BBC series Planet Earth). It’s out of its proper place when it keeps us from engaging the wild and wonderful natural world with all our senses.
  6. 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; much like my children’s toys and stuffed creatures and minor treasures, 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.

This year Regent College is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its summer school with an impressive group of scholars, including N.T. Wright, Wesley Hill, Christine Pohl, Rikk Watts, Amy Sherman, Grant Wacker and many more. Go here to see the courses.

This article is re-posted by permission.

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