In Andy Crouch’s book, The Tech-Wise Family, he speaks to the idea that everything in our lives has a “proper place.” That’s true, isn’t it? If you are a parent, you understand this from the perspective of having your children pick up their toys, clothes, food, crafts… You name it. We, as parents, just want them to put their stuff back in its proper place! You may be wondering how that has anything to do with being a tech-wise family. But, to Andy’s point, there is a proper place for technology in our family lives, and we must keep it there!
Technology is literally everywhere. Our homes are infested with this stuff! Devices are in our pockets, on our wrists, attached to our walls, and some items have even made it into our showers! According to research done by Lifeway, most children begin using technology by the age of two. While reading that, a couple of things crossed my mind: 1) Wow, that’s crazy, and 2) yeah, that’s relatable. It’s not uncommon for our young children to swipe through the pictures on our phones or watch television while enjoying a snack. It doesn’t just stop there, though. From games, shows, texting, shopping, schooling, and social media, there are an unlimited amount of ways that technology has become integrated into our modern lives.
It’s a culture of convenience, isn’t it? It’s so easy to overindulge ourselves with the endless possibilities of making our lives easier. My family is guilty of this concept, as well. It’s hard! It’s the world we live in, so how do we navigate through that in a way that is disciplined and responsible?
Circle back to Andy’s initial point of everything having its proper place. We have to be able to put technology, as a whole, in its proper place inside our homes and within our family lives. Easier said than done, but let’s delve into some practices that might help us create a family culture of being where our feet are.
Setting Up Boundaries
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:2
15-20 years ago most households contained one computer that was typically centralized and visible within the entire home. Today there is typically a 1:1 ratio of devices per individual within a household. Needless to say, boundaries are harder to set when everything is personalized and somewhat privatized.
Smartphones are here to stay, so how do we set up appropriate boundaries to protect our children and ourselves from evil and idolatry, guiding them to pursue what is good?
Here’s a fun fact for you: According to Lifeway, “Porn is more trafficked on the internet than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter… COMBINED!” Our kids are so vulnerable, so allowing your children to have unrestricted access to the internet is not only dangerous, it’s a recipe for disaster!
Here’s a different approach that contradicts societal norms… Don’t allow your child to have a smartphone. You cannot convince me, nor can you convince the data, that it is a necessary evil in today’s world. Let’s get back to funneling this convenience to when a driver’s license is obtained. Let your child be different. It’s remarkable how radical this idea is. You may ask, “What should I do if my child already has a phone?” Take it away from them. You’re not their friend. Be their parent and make responsible decisions for them while they are still your dependent! Enough of my rant, here are some obtainable boundaries to set according to Lifeway:
Allow your child to demonstrate responsibility in less consequential ways before giving them too much freedom.
Make sure the lines of communication are open.
Set manual agreed upon limits.
For younger kids, take a hands-on approach.
For older kids, take full advantage of technology monitoring software.
“Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2
Do you remember the days of MSN and AOL messenger? That was something, wasn’t it? I remember fighting my sister over internet time for just the chance to have a digital conversation with my peers, people I had just seen at school or outside only hours before. Don’t even get me started on flip phone texting!! T9 anyone? All kidding aside, for those of you who can relate to any of that, you understand the excitement behind those simple technological things back in the late 90s and early 2000s. Another thought just popped into my head… webcams!!! Remember the first time you were able to SEE someone else while you conversed digitally? Wow.
All that to say, social media, if you will, has changed drastically over the past two decades. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, SnapChat, and Twitter exist to connect people with other people. There is nothing bad regarding the purpose of social media, per say. But, many parents have discovered it to prove distracting and a catalyst for sinful behavior. Here are some potential pitfalls according to Lifeway:
Social media is not always reality.
Social media fosters loneliness.
Social media leads to a lack of real, genuine connection with flesh and blood people.
Social media misdirects identity.
As I wrap this up, I want you to reflect on a quote by one of my favorite authors, Hannah Brencher. She says this:
The vow of stability is a commitment to something which is maddeningly simple yet impossibly hard in today’s culture: a commitment to being exactly where your feet are.
Be where your feet are-- even when it’s hard.
Be where your feet are-- even when you wish it could be different.
Be where your feet are-- even when hope feels bleak.
Be where your feet are-- content in the mundane and the ordinary.
The mundane and the ordinary-- I think that’s where the beauty of real-life hides out in plain sight. Social media would have us believe that our lives must be pulsing and buzzing with updates at all times, but the rhythms of everyday life are rarely packed with pomp and circumstance.
What an amazing challenge - Be where your feet are! As parents, we have to model this for our kids, we have to set boundaries for our kids to practice this, and we have to be aware of the distractions in order to limit their influence on our families. It’s time to get to work. Put technology in its proper place!