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6 Ways to Know if Your Home Has Technology in Its Proper Place

February 14, 2019
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Technology is in its proper place when it helps us bond with the real people we have been given to love.

It's an excellent time to be pondering faith and technology: In December, Craig Gay published Modern Technology and the Human Future. And this summer, Andy Crouch will be teaching "Rebuilding the Household: Family and Church in the Technological Age" (which will assign Craig Gay's book for one of the readings!) In anticipation of his course, Dr. Crouch offers these "6 Ways to Know if Your Home has Technology in its Proper Place." Most of the material is excerpted from Andy's own book, The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in its Proper Place.


Practically overnight—in the blink of an eye in terms of human history—we have filled our homes with technology. Each device we purchase promises to make our lives easier or more enjoyable, but collectively they seem to be having the opposite effect: in research for The Tech-Wise Family, my colleagues at Barna Group found that more than three in four parents say that raising children today is more complicated than it was for their own parents. Sixty-five percent attribute this to technology and social media.

What is the proper place for technology in a home? Figuring that out for any particular family and stage of life requires discernment rather than a simple formula. What’s most important is not to take technology’s “default settings” for granted. Our own family has found that technology does have a proper place in our home, but only if we shape our use of our devices according to these principles, rather than letting our devices shape us.

  1. Technology is in its proper place when it helps us bond with the real people we have been given to love. It’s out of its proper place when we end up bonding with people at a distance, like celebrities, whom we will never meet.

  2. Technology is in its proper place when it starts great conversations. It’s out of its proper place when it prevents us from talking with and listening to one another.

  3. Technology is in its proper place when it helps us take care of the fragile bodies we inhabit. It’s out of its proper place when it promises to help us escape the limits and vulnerabilities of those bodies altogether.

  4. Technology is in its proper place when it helps us acquire skill and mastery of domains that are the glory of human culture (sports, music, the arts, cooking, writing, accounting; the list could go on and on). When we let technology replace the development of skill with passive consumption, something has gone wrong.

  5. Technology is in its proper place when it helps us cultivate awe for the created world we are part of and responsible for stewarding (our family spent some joyful and awe-filled hours when our children were in middle school watching the beautifully produced BBC series Planet Earth). It’s out of its proper place when it keeps us from engaging the wild and wonderful natural world with all our senses.

  6. Technology is in its proper place only when we use it with intention and care. If there’s one thing I’ve discovered about technology, it’s that it doesn’t stay in its proper place on its own; much like my children’s toys and stuffed creatures and minor treasures, it finds its way underfoot all over the house and all over our lives. If we aren’t intentional and careful, we’ll end up with a quite extraordinary mess. 

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