Be: Tech-Wise

What a fast-paced beginning to the school year! School has been in session 4 weeks now; I feel like the train left the station and hasn't yet made a stop. New teachers and schedules, homework, volunteering, soccer practices and games, play dates, family dinners, church, chores, errands—all being executed in oven-like temperatures.

[Since when did we hit at least 90 degrees every day in Silicon Valley?! This very morning I sensed a change: the sky was darker at 6:30 am, the air cooler. I'm optimistic that we're out of the 90+s, but I've closed the windows and binds just in case I'm wrong.]

Being back to school means my children have a lot of time with their peers, and they've been using it to conduct a massive research project entitled: "Why We Should Have Unlimited Screen Time (or at least a lot, lot more screen time) Like All of Our Friends: The Story of Our Stingy, Strict Parents and the Suffering of Being Their Offspring." At least the three of them can all agree on something! One son wants to be on YouTube all the time. The other wants to Minecraft non-stop. The third thinks he lives in a third-world home because he doesn't have a video game console. Their desires align, and are unique. Thankfully, my husband and I align on this as well. We have grave concerns about the addictive nature of screens, as well as concern about the dangerous content that lurks within the world wide web that no parental control software can perfectly shield our children from.

This summer I read a helpful book called The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place, by Andy Crouch. I've written about technology and parenting before; this is a realm I'm passionate about and that also brings me great frustration. I want my children to feel we are generous and reasonable parents; I also want to protect them and lead them well. But even when we increase screen time, it's never enough for them, they always tell us about the greener grass elsewhere—and I can't blame them. They have peers with smartphones in their pockets, with nearly unlimited screen access; and they struggle to understand our concerns, they are children after all. I know there are other parents who share my screen concerns and seriously limit their children's access, I've talked with them before, I know they exist. But sometimes I feel all alone.

This quote from Crouch really struck me as I read the book:

"...Technology, with all its gifts, poses one of the greatest threats ever conceived by human society to the formation of wise, courageous persons that real family and real community are all about."

I full-heartedly agree with him: the threat is real and it's going to impact the caliber of men and women our children grow up to become. This is why I'm trying, through trial and error, to find tech's proper place in my family. Sometimes it feels like the power of the screen is so strong that it's this force trying to brainwash my kids. Or maybe I'm over-reacting? Sometimes I'm tempted to just throw in the towel and surrender to the lure of the screen, let the kids have what they want. But no!

Is this tech balance something you struggle with as well? How have you solved it in your household? I'd love to know your thoughts and solutions. We need each other's support as we raise our children to be wise and courageous in the tech mecca of the world.

Back to School, Elementary School Playground