Book Review: The Tech-Wise Family

Occasionally, a book is not what I expect it to be. Andy Crouch’s new book, The Tech-Wise Family is not what I expected. The book was recently recommended to me, and since I’m preaching a series on the family right now, I decided I should at least take the time to look into Crouch’s suggestions for how to filter the internet, limit television, and guard what commercials my children are exposed to.

Instead, I got something completely different. A book shouldn’t be judged by its cover, and sometimes it shouldn’t be judged by its title either. Crouch focuses much of the book on the way that a family should consider media and technology, but he focuses much more on the way a family should structure its time outside of media and technology:

If we don’t learn to put technology, in all of its forms, in its proper place, we will miss out on many of the best parts of life in a family.

Instead of focusing on limits and filters, Crouch focuses on the better things that families should be built upon. Consider the following:

Our homes aren’t meant to be just refueling stations, places where we and our devices rest briefly, top up our charge, and then go back to frantic activity. They are meant to be places where the very best of life happens. No matter what advertising says…,the very best of life has almost nothing to do with the devices we buy. It has a lot to do with the choices we make, choices that our devices often make more difficult.

The goal of the book is the help families become the best they can be and to recreate the home as a place where character is built and memories are made. The Tech-Wise Family is less a book about technology and more of a book of disciplines for a wise and godly family.

Make no mistake, there is plenty of helpful information and guidelines in this book for managing technology within your family, but Crouch also wrestles with a more robust philosophy of the family. He advocates for families built upon shared experiences, communication, and worship. And, he helps the reader to understand that a biblical family is much larger than the nuclear family. Biblical families are made up of mom, dad, children, and a whole host of other believers within a local faith family.

I found Crouch’s three keys decisions of a tech-wise family especially helpful:

  1. Choose Character- To make the mission of our family, for children and adults alike, the cultivation of wisdom and courage.
  2. Shape Space- Make choices about the place where we live that put the development of character and creativity at the heart of our home.
  3. Structure Time– build rhythms into our lives, on a daily, weekly, and annual basis, that make it possible for us to get to know one another, God, and our world in deeper and deeper ways.

This book is one of my greatest reading surprises of the year. I expected this book to about as enjoyable as dry toast on a hot day. But, instead it was refreshing and fun. I lost track time as I read this book and feel better prepared as a parent.

Quotable Quotes:

  • The most powerful choices we will make in our lives are not about specific decisions but about patterns of life: the nudges and disciplines that will shape all our other choices (37).
  • Even though it’s incredibly hard simply o know what we should do, it’s even harder to actually act on what we know we should do. Because almost all the time, the most faithful, themes loving, and the wisest thing to do is scary, hard, and painful–even, in some ways, dangerous (56).
  • The first family for everyone who wants wisdom and courage in the ways of Jesus is the church–the community of disciples who are looking to Jesus to reshape their understanding and their character (60).
  • Technology is only very good if it can help us become the persons we were meant to be.
  • When the art of cooking is replaced by means warmed up in a microwave–something a five-year-old can do as well as a fifty-five-year-old–then children no longer see their mothers or fathers doing something challenging, fruitful, admirable, and ultimately enjoyable. Instead, the family’s life together is reduced to mere consumption, purchasing the results of others’ work or toil. No wonder children at the “peak leisure-home” stage of the 1960s and 1970s stopped admiring their parents. They never saw their parents doing anything worth admiring (91).
  • We wake up before our devices do, and they “go to bed” before we do (111).
  • The more you entertain children, the more bored they will get (141).
  • Worship is the path to true wisdom (187).