10 Tech-Wise Commandments
10 TECH-WISE COMMANDMENTS
- We Develop Wisdom and Courage as a Family
Summary: The main idea is that family is a place for character formation. Specifically, family is a place for forming of us into people who have both wisdom and courage. Christians have their nuclear family, but also the church family to help us grow together into people of wisdom and courage. Technology is good, but it is only very good if it helps us become the persons we were meant to be. Technology has made life easier, but it has not made it more joyful. Technology has made us more globally connected and better informed but it hasn’t made us more patient, kind, forgiving, etc. “In countless ways our lives are easier than our grandparents, but in what really matters, wisdom and courage, it seems very hard to argue that our lives are overall better.”
- We want to create more than we consume. So we fill the center of our home with things that reward skill and active engagement.
Summary: The main idea is that we should remove technology to the edges of our homes, so that they do not dominate our living spaces. If we want to promote living that builds character, creativity, wonder, in our lives (and not just passively consuming the screen), we should give thought to where technology is placed in our homes. If your family spends most of its time in the living room, what is in the living room? He writes “This is the central nudge of the tech-wise life: to make the place where we spend the most time the place where easy everywhere is hardest to find. This simple nudge, all by itself, is a powerful antidote to consumer culture, the way of life that finds satisfaction mostly in enjoying what other people have made.”
- 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, feast, play and rest together.
Summary: The main idea is making sure that we have appropriate breaks from our technology that wean us from dependence on it and give us an opportunity to rest from the constant barrage that our devises bring into our lives. We need to have time for “digital detox” on a regular basis. 60% of Americans never take breaks from social media. For Christians, the Lord’s Day is a day that has been given to us to truly rest from our work and from being consumed with our devices.
- We wake up before our devices do, and they go to bed before we do
Summary: We need to build time into our lives that we are free from the pull of our electronic devices. Statistics of how much time we give them are astounding. Our devices are the first thing that many Americans reach for in the morning, the last thing they look at before they go to bed, and they are always on and within reach the rest of the day. Statistics show that these devices are costing us sleep.
- We aim for “no screens before double digits” at school and at home
Summary: In his family they did their best to keep screens out of their children’s life on a normal basis before they were 10 years old. Part of his rationale was educational, part of it a growing concern for how much time young children are now spending on screens every day and the longer term effects. “The truth is that our children, just like us, will spend far too much of their lives tethered to glowing rectangles. We owe them, at the very minimum, early years of real, embodied, difficult, rewarding learning, the kinds that screens cannot provide.” He recognizes that this is strikingly different from what is everywhere around us, and challenging to live out.
- We use Screens for a purpose, and we use them together, rather than using them aimlessly and alone.
Summary: Boredom is a modern condition. The technology that promises to release us from boredom is actually making it worse--making us more prone to seek empty distractions than we have ever been. He believes that the more you entertain children, the more bored they will get. One of the results of our technology is that we have become people who desperately need entertainment and distraction because we have lost an appreciation and awe for the natural world. Boredom is a sign that our capacity for wonder and delight, contemplation and attention, real play and fruitful work, has been dangerously depleted. In his family, they only used screens for a specific purpose (not just to pass the time), and used them in community. “When we 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.”
- Car Time is conversation time
Summary: Family is a place to talk about what truly matters with our children, conversations that get beyond the surface, conversations about faith, prelateships, school, the future, and the past. In order to do this we need conversations that last long enough to get beyond both superficiality and awkward silence that is part of real conversation. Technology is disrupting our ability to have real, meaningful conversations with each other, and so we have to fight for this. For their family, car rides became a key place of having good conversations with each other. He laments that now, even when families are in the car together, we are all on our separate screens (in fact, newer cars have built in screens so that your kids can be distracted/entertained for hours).
- Spouses have one another’s passwords, and parents have total access to children devices
Summary: All of this technology has allowed unbelievably easy access to sexual content. The norm now is that sex is everywhere, available to everyone at every stage of life and in every configuration of desire. More than 50% of teens seek out pornography and even when they don’t actively look for it, it comes to them. Only 21% of teens say they never come across porn. Parents have to be concerned about this, and do what they can to protect their children from this toxic plague. Parents should have a good internet filter for their home and their children’s devices, but there also must be accountability, transparency, and visibility in the context of their relationship. Children should have no expectation that their devices are their own, and mom and dad have the right and responsibility to look over their shoulder, pick up, and look through their devices at any moment, for any reason. This is also true for spouses. The tech-wise family makes a commitment not to have any technological secrets from each other, and no place to hide them.
- We learn to sing together, rather than letting recorded and amplified music take over our lives and worship
Summary: It is important to sing together and share worship together as a family. Modern technology has us consuming music in a way generations never did before, but we now rarely create any music the way previous generations did.
- We show up for in person for the big events of life. We learn how to be human by being fully present at our moments of greatest vulnerability. WE hope to die in one another arms
Summary: Technology has been a good gift when it has helped us to be with people that we love who are at a distance. However, we must never replace real physical presence with online presence. They are not the same. 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.
Final Thoughts: As I mentioned, I believe this is a book that every Christian parent should read, and it is still very relevant for those who don’t have kids in the home. Personally, I found some of his “commandments” more compelling than others, but appreciated the thoughtfulness that he brings to the discussion. Agree with him or not, working through this book and talking to your spouse about it (if applicable) is a good way to wrestle with some of the complications that technology has brought into the home.
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