Technology in the Home

So we get questions oftentimes about technology. We got this one from our homeroom group, it’s from Jessica. She says, “Hey guys, can you direct me to any info you guys have about the use of technology in the family? I’ve read the Beth Keys tech manifesto, and that’s super helpful. In fact, that’s a lot of what we’ve been doing. But now that our kids are older, 12, 10, 8, 4, we are seeing that we need to adjust some of how we’ve been doing tech, Like the kids using computers to research a school project, we homeschool. Using an iPad to create stop motion videos, LEGOS, or type a creative story, communicating with friends. And we’re not there yet, but when and how to use social media. Not to mention with the shutdowns and social distancing tech is a useful tool for staying in touch with friends, family. How do you guide that?”

Great question. Man. I’m really curious what your thoughts on this, Jeff. One thing that I would say for us that has been really critical, is that I don’t know if you guys remember, back when Steve Jobs first announced the new iPhone, it was just the kind of glorious moment where he described the coming together of these three technologies. Basically your audio player, your phone, and your internet all wrapped up into one. And basically what I think this is all about is taking what Steve Jobs did by beautifully wrapping those into one package and pulling them back apart and saying, “Okay, you got to get… You can’t think about these devices, all-in-one devices, you got to introduce your kids to one element at a time, in a way that will really bless them for the stage that they’re at. So for us, the youngest stages, all we want our kids to have access to his audio books. And so, I love audio books, we’re huge audio book family.

So we got MP3 players or we found ways to find old iPods or whatever, iPhones and just locked everything else down, deleted everything, zero. This is just an MP3 player. That was actually really hard to pull off, believe it or not. And then, it was slowly introducing them to one extra thing at a time. Okay, so now you’ve got that. Now we want you to do some creative stuff like you’re describing. So we’re going to put the camera on there. You can make videos, we’d love to see those videos, that’s awesome. Take pictures. But there’s no social media on there. There’s no internet access. There’s no browsers. And so, what we did is just slowly, carefully, every single app that got downloaded was a conversation. There was opportunity to test to pull back.

But the idea of just all of a sudden handing your 10-year-old or even your 15-year-old, a complete phone with everything, they had complete access to the app store, total access to the internet, total access to every social media app out there, that does seem like it’s kind of designed to fail. But Jeff, you thought a lot about this one.

Yep. Yeah. I mean, I agree. I think helpful principles that never… There’s helpful principles that never go away regardless of how you’re implementing them, right? So, yeah. Excuse me. On the toddler side of things, yeah, I think we’re low tech, you got to go super minimal, I think just brain development, all the different types of stuff. I won’t get into that, people kind of have seen us talk about that. But yeah, just low tech there. But then yeah, as they get older, you have to start opening horizons, but principles don’t change. And so what I mean by that is, one is, Andy Crouch uses this phrase of, “Put the technology on the fringes, not the center of your life,” right? So that should be true whether you’re 50, whether you’re 20, whether you’re 15, whether you’re 5. Technology shouldn’t be at the center of your life, humanized connections should be.

Secondly, another one would be contribution over consumption, right? Do you use technology to contribute or to consume? One thing I don’t like in these conversations is a lot of times it gets conflated of all tech use is the same. No, it’s not. Like watching a movie over in the corner by yourself is radically different than having an identity shaping family movie night. But it’s technically the same thing if you’re watching the same thing, right? But it’s not. So that’s the difference. And so, yeah. So for us and our kids, I’m already starting with Kinsley probably in the next couple of years. Yeah, I want her to learn video editing. I want her to learn music making and all these different types of things that will be contributing with technology. Let it be a tool to assist creativity and imagination, not to suck creativity and imagination out of you. And so, I think asking those questions, staying philosophical with it, then allows you to be a little bit more light-footed on how you come down and apply.

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