October 13, 2021

The Tech-Wise Family - Book Review by Kelli Rummel

The Tech-Wise Family - Book Review by Kelli Rummel
The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch

Crouch, Andy. The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place. Ida, MI: Baker Books, 2017.

This is a fairly compact book of 220 pages. The writing style is very simple, it was a very easy read despite the fact that it gave me much to ponder.

What originally inspired you to read this book?
My children are still young, and determining the use of technology in their lives has not been a difficult decision for us…yet. With an 8, 6, 4, and 1 year old, creating an atmosphere in our home where TV and movies are not central to our lives has been quite simple. BUT I know that will eventually change. As our children grow, we will, little by little, hand over responsibility and discernment to them on the use of technology in their lives. I know, from personal experience, that setting my phone down can be hard. What is a good balance of technology for our family? How do I cultivate a good relationship with technology for my children? When does technology become my master instead of my servant?

I was seeking some words of wisdom for keeping technology in its proper place. I didn’t have all the answers, and especially with young children, I wanted to begin preparing for their older years. As a result, I asked Kathryn at CMI if she had a book recommendation for the use of technology in the home, and this is the book she recommended, which is also included in the Alveary high school curriculum.

What is the basic premise of the book?
Andy Crouch, the author, offers many suggestions about where technology can fit into our lives and the wonderful things it can offer. He also, though, acknowledges that technology can easily take too much of our time, and he presents us with many ideas about what should be in our lives instead of technology.

Where or how do you see it connecting to a Mason philosophy?
Mason mentions that we must labour our minds in order to grow and find reward. Growth takes work and discipline. I find that mentality woven through this book on technology. I can find myself scrolling mindlessly on my phone, and there is very little, if any, reward or productivity in that habit. The author encourages us to fill our homes with things and habits that inspire creativity and productivity. He even goes so far as to remind us that with work comes reward and with rest can also come reward. Even in rest, we can be productive, he says. Scrolling my phone is not productive or rewarding. Reading a book or even taking a nap can be highly productive.

Crouch also talks about the ‘nudge.’ “Nudges are small changes in the environment around us that make it easier for us to make the choices we want to make or want others to make,” he explains (33). I can see similarities between the ‘nudge’ and Mason’s perspectives on habit training for ourselves and our children.

The author also talks about how technology has, in many ways, made our lives ‘easy everywhere,' but how "learning to use a tool requires patience and practice” (48). He challenges us to think critically about how much technology has helped us or how much it’s limited us. Is there value to learning skills and handicrafts? Do I, as a mother, allow my children to see me doing anything challenging, fruitful, or admirable? Or am I encouraging our lives to be essentially reduced to mere consumption of someone else’s creativity?

A Few Favorite Quotes
“Fill the center of your life together - the literal center, the heart of your home, the place where you spend the most time together - with the things that reward creativity, relationship, and engagement” (70).

“What makes the things on our first floor valuable is not their price. Instead, it’s the way each thing asks us, our children, and our guests to bring creativity and imagination to life together. So if you do only one thing in response to this book, I urge you to make it this: Find the room where your family spends the most time and ruthlessly eliminate the things that ask little of you and develop little in you” (79).

Kelli Rummel is a Mason educator and the creator of Curwenmusic.com. She lives in IL with her husband Peter and their three boys.

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