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Put Technology in its Proper Place

Author Andy Crouch discusses his new book, The Tech-Wise Family, and how you can take every day steps to put technology in its proper place in your life. Read Transcript


Well, here's a novel idea for you.

At night, put your smart phone and laptop to bed

before you go to bed.

And in the morning, you wake up before they wake up.

That's just one way to break free

from the bondage of technology.

Take a look.


NARRATOR: Andy Crouch fell in love with computers

when his dad brought one home in the '70s.

Since then, Andy has seen dependence on electronics rise

to alarming rates, almost overnight.

He says, "there's a proper place for devices in our lives,

but if we don't learn to put limits

on all forms of technology, we'll

miss out on the best parts of life."

In his book, "The Tech-Wise Family,"

Andy challenges us to reduce our usage or unplug our screens.

And offers everyday steps for balancing real life

in a cyber world.

And please welcome to the "700 Club," Andy Crouch.

Andy, it's very nice to meet you.

Great to be with you.

This is a very controversial subject.

Why is it wrong to be addicted to our devices, first of all?

Well, I think a lot of people sense something

has gone a little bit wrong.

We find ourselves drawn to these things,

and I'm not just talking about kids,

I often hear parents complain about their kids

being on their phones, which really means

looking at a glowing rectangle.

Actually, I see just as many parents on their phones.

And the only reason that it's a problem,

is when it prevents us from having the real life we were

meant to have with each other.

This friend of mine sent me a photo of her husband

and her two sons somewhere out in public,

they're all just like this.

They're all just looking down at their phone.

She says, what's wrong with this picture?

And I think this is what we're all asking.

We bought these things for ourselves,

and for our children, and our grandchildren,

because they make life easier, in many ways,

but they're actually making some things harder, as well.

It's making parenting harder, isn't it?

Tell us how.

How is it?

So we did some research for this book

and we asked parents, what makes parenting difficult?

And the number one answer was, managing technology.

And it's basically-- well, it's partly

because every other challenge we have as parents,

we were able to go to our own parents or grandparents

and say, how did you handle this when I was a child?

But none of us grew up with this.

And our parents didn't grow up with it.

So we are all figuring out as we go along,

how to have a healthy relationship with technology

as family.

Let's talk about your own family.

You have a lovely wife, two children.

Catherine is my wife.

And then, Timothy and Amy, started out as kids,

but now they're teenagers.

There we all are.

We all have glasses.

It's like a Christmas fireplace night.

That'd be a good Christmas card photo.

That's what we used it for.

And you don't see the devices.

What are you doing, Andy, in your own family

to limit the use of devices and become more of a family?

The most important choice we make

was to actually take breaks, and so we think

the biblical idea of Sabbath, of one day a week,

is meant to apply to all these things.

So one day a week-- for us, it's Sunday--

none of the devices are on.

And then, actually one hour a day and one week a year.

So one hour a day-- for us, that's dinnertime-- one day

a week-- for us, that's Sunday-- and one week a year,

we go on a family vacation, and we turn it all off.

So Sunday, I love that idea, by the way, but Mondays come

and what if there's an emergency at work?

What if your boss is trying to get a hold of you?

How do you really say no?

How do you not go look at it?

So it's incredibly hard when you start.

The first time I turned off my email

for a whole week of vacation, I, like you I'm sure,

do a lot of my work through email, I thought,

how can I do this?

But actually, if you keep doing that discipline,

it becomes easier and easier.

And people learn that there are other ways

to get in touch of it's really essential.

And we're not legalistic about it, that's not the point.

But it is to say, one day a week,

let's just have a circuit breaker that we turn off.

And we actually do this even for the lights in our dining room,

we turn those off at dinner time and light candles.

I love that.

And dinner by candlelight is awesome.

The kids love it.

The parents love it.

My wife thinks I look younger and more attractive.

I would like a candlelight dinner, just FYI.

Every night.

So I like to hike and there is one place in Virginia

where I go and you can't get cell service and it's so great.

And sometimes I spend the night up there

so I actually really enjoy, that's

a little break from that.

But there aren't that many places that have that option.

You really have to turn it off yourself.

And you say, one thing to do is the one hour a day,

I'm finding in my own life, if I get home from work

as I've been on computers and phones all day,

sometimes I take like maybe two or three hour break.

And then when I come back to the phone,

it's kind of fun after that.

We need these rhythms.

Our devices are designed to work 24/7,

but we're not designed to do that.

We're designed to have rhythms of work and rest, sleep

and wake.

So I think building those rhythms in,

is the way to have a healthy relationship with it

rather than be feeling like we're

over connected and actually, disconnected

from people and from the creation around us.

What about when we're in our cars?

You say that we're not making good use

of our time in our cars.

I think especially as family--

and it's true whether your parents or grandparents--

when you're driving somewhere with other people,

this is an amazing opportunity for conversation.

But next time you're on the highway,

if you just look at what people are doing in their cars,

everybody has their little white earbuds in.

Everyone's on their own device.

And we often do this to make our own lives easier.

As parents, give the kids something to do.

But then, you're missing out actually

on creating fun together.

Having great conversations together.

So in our family, we decided car time is conversation time.

And we actually won't have our earbuds in,

and we won't have the screens glowing in the back seat.

We're going to find a way to stay engaged.

And I ended up having some of the best conversations

with my kids in their teenage years in the car,

which I never expected.

But hey, we're all really close



And sometimes just light talk, but sometimes, you

get to the really deep important conversations that

might not happen anywhere else.

Well, I know you write in your book--

which, by the way, is called "The Tech-Wise Family,

Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper


I love orange so it looks like this.

So you say that if you can, don't

let your kids have screens before their double digits,

before their 10th birthday at home.

Of course, at school--

are you talking about at home or school?

Well, I think children under the age of 10,

are made to engage the world in three dimensions

with their whole bodies.

Try to get a child to sit still, they're

not designed to do that.

And so, actually, I'd say at school, at home, anywhere,

I would ideally like to see minimal screens for children.

Even at the age of 10, I don't think

that means you hand them a smartphone with unlimited data.

You start at that point, to begin to introduce--

there's ways this can be useful in middle school

and high school.

But we really decided, we wanted our kids

engaged in the real world and in really creative play together.

So instead of a TV or screens for them, we had a craft table

and we had instruments for them to play and learn.

It's much better for children's learning early on to not

have those screens.

I know.

I have a niece and nephew that are below 10,

and sometimes, it would be hard to have

a conversation with them because they just would not want

to look up from that screen.


But they're very well-rounded and very athletic, too.

So I guess my sister's doing a good job.

Well, an estimated 30% of all internet traffic

is pornography, Andy.

How can we best protect ourselves and our families

from becoming enslaved by this?

Well, this is one reason we have no phones in the bedroom,

no screens in the bedroom policy for kids

and parents in our family, and many

of the families I know that I really believe

are doing this well.

And that's just to give us minimal support

to our own self-control, but the reality

is, kids don't have much self-control.

And it's not just that they're going and consuming

pornography made by others, they're

actually pressured to create sexualized images.

And so, basically, we've got to be a lot more involved

in each other's lives.

The opposite of addiction is connection,

and so, all these things that are potentially addictive,

the real cure for it is not a bunch of rules,

it's deeper connections with each other.

And it's us knowing what's on our kids devices.

A friend of mine says to his sons--

he has four middle school age sons--

he says, I'm going to know everything that's on your phone

because I'm your dad.

And until you leave my house, it's my job.

And that's actually a healthy way to parent.


This is such a great topic.

And Andy's book is called, "The Tech-Wise Family, Everyday

Steps for Putting Technology in its Proper Place,"

and it's available nationwide wherever books are sold.

Plus, for all you Facebook lovers,

we have a social exclusive interview with Andy.

To watch that, just go to


Andy, thank you for being brave, this

is a brave book to write right now.

I think people need it.

Thank you, Wendy.

I need it.

God bless you.

Thank you.

God bless you.


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