Technology hasn’t yet been the biggest concern for our family since our kids have been so young. We don’t (yet) have teenagers wanting to play video games at all hours of the day, we don’t have devices for the kids that we need to monitor, and they never watch or access anything we don’t know about.
But our oldest twins just turned 5 in December and we can see that world looming closer to us. Plus, Jason and I always need to check our technology usage and we can always do with healthier media and technology standards.
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So in August, Jason and I both read a book called The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place. I also recently read a book called 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You (which happens to be the free book on Christian Audio in January)! I wish I had waited to buy the book.
Both books cover similar ideas and they are both convicting in different ways. So much of what Jason and I have been discussing this year about technology comes from these two books.
There’s a lot of reasons to start having these conversations, but one of them is this. When asked “why do they think parenting today is more difficult?” 65% of the test takers said “technology/social media.” I would certainly agree with that statement!
Where the very best of life happens
“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.” –The Tech-Wise Family Page 29.
In his book, Andy Crouch discusses 10 wise principles for using technology. There are several of his ideas that stood to us that we are going to be working on (see below). Here are the 10 commitments:
Ten Tech-Wise Commitments
- We develop wisdom and courage together as a family.
- We want to create more than we consume. So we fill the center of our home with things that reward skill and active engagement.
- 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.
- We wake up before our devices do, and they “go to bed” before we do.
- We aim for “no screens before double digits” at school and at home.
- We use screens for a purpose, and we use them together, rather than using them aimlessly and alone.
- Car time is conversation time.
- Spouses have one another’s passwords, and parents have total access to children’s devices.
- We learn to sing together, rather than letting recorded and amplified music take over our lives and worship.
- We show up 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’s arms.
“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.”
I talked at length about this one back in episode #99, so hop over to listen to that. We’ve generally been following that. The one hour a day is no problem at all. In fact, we’ve been stretching this one further.
We’ve declared January TV free for us. It’s January 17th as I record this, and we’ve been perfect on this goal, we’ve read a lot more, been playing board games together at night and don’t miss the TV at all!
We haven’t been as consistent on the one day a week. Sundays are supposed to be our media free, technology-free day but it doesn’t always happen. We just came out of a three week long Christmas vacation surrounded by sickness, so we are still working back into our weekly routines.
And then our one week a year will be in August, so I’ll update you when we get to it!
“We wake up before our devices do, and they ‘go to bed’ before we do.”
My goal in the morning is to not check anything on my phone until after coffee, Bible reading and prayer. Ideally, this will happen at 6am. Other mornings this happens at 10am when I can finally sit down and eat my breakfast. Just being real.
And we’ve already been doing the technology free nights, so at least half of this is working well 😉
“We aim for ‘no screens before double digits’ at school and at home.”
In their home, they didn’t do screens until double 10 years old. He doesn’t reallyexplainn what this entails other than “regular screen time”. But that would be hard anyway, does it mean your oldest is ten? But then won’t the youngers be exposed to it, etc?
Honestly, this isn’t realistic in our home. I’ve had too many newborn twin days, trapped on the couch nursing, etc. when the tv has saved me! There have been sick days when we cuddle up on the couch and watch a movie together. And there are those nights when it’s cold and rainy outside where I let them watch tv while I prepare dinner because they are literally running laps around the kitchen island (a particular favorite of theirs).
The balance we struck is that tv is okay. But it’s limited, it’s monitored, and we watch it. We do have some guidelines:
- They are never allowed on Youtube without mom or dad watching
- I always have to okay the Netflix show they watch and they know which ones they are not allowed to watch
- They are not allowed to use my phone to watch shows while we are out shopping, waiting for lunch to come, etc. (We have had exceptions to this when we are literally hanging on for dear life!! It’s happens sometimes people!!)
- They don’t have devices of their own and they are not allowed on mom and dads phones except in very rare circumstances to watch netflix. They don’t get play games on our phones.
- We do own a Nintendo Switch and they have several games for that. But game playing is restricted to those times when their schoolwork is done and they’ve already played outside all day or it’s cold, it’s a special circumstance like vacation, or Mama just really really needs a nap.
After coming off of 3 weeks of Christmas vacation, we are trying to hook that into better routines. So it’s a great time to have these discussions and aim for our home to be where the very best of life happens!
Listen in to yesterday’s TTM episode #20: Media Choices for Young Kids!