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Real Connection in a Tech-Saturated World

A review of My Tech-Wise Life by Amy Crouch and Andy Crouch

Published on:
November 23, 2020
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4 min.
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As humans, we are created to be in community. It was not good that Adam was alone in the garden of Eden, so God made Eve to share her life with him. Relationships were present before the fall and scripture repeatedly exhorts unity among people. Community and connection are vital to happiness and contentment as humans. It’s simply how God made us. So, you would think as people have become more connected through technology in recent years, our lives would improve in significant ways. But does technology actually bring satisfactory connection? Why is it that when we are the most connected online, we often feel the most dissatisfied, disconnected, and lonely?

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Amy and Andy Crouch seek to address these questions in their new book, My Tech-Wise Life: Growing Up and Making Choices in a World of Devices. Structured as a conversation between father and daughter, the book explores the current culture surrounding technology and the Crouch family’s intentional choices to curb problematic technology use. Filled with useful and informative data from the Barna Institute, My Tech-Wise Life isn’t simply the observations of a college-aged woman, but an informed critique of how technology has been used and an exhortation to people of all ages to make concrete changes in the ways they interact with and consume technology. 

What Does It Mean to Be “Tech-Wise”?

You may have read about the “tech-wise” approach in Andy Crouch’s 2017 book, The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place. The Crouch family is not anti-technology. Rather, they are interested in harnessing technology for what is good and resisting where it causes disconnection from others, disengagement from the world around them, and mindless overuse. It is a method that seeks to bend technology to the will of the user—not the other way around. The tenets of the “tech-wise life” buck against the uncritical nature of the general public’s acceptance of new technology in our culture. Amy summarizes it by saying, “[I had] no TV until I was in middle school, no smartphone until I was sixteen, no screens in sight during family dinners together, and no devices in the car.” 

But being tech-wise isn’t about going without so much as it is admitting our limitations as sinful creatures to enjoy a good thing for what it is—a good thing—without abusing it.

But being tech-wise isn’t about going without so much as it is admitting our limitations as sinful creatures to enjoy a good thing for what it is—a good thing—without abusing it. It is, in other words, putting into practice the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:12: “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything.” Having grown up in a family that restricted and restructured technological engagement, Amy had some decisions to make about how she would choose to use technology as an adult.

Technology and Personal Reflection

Amy’s use of story in My Tech-Wise Life is approachable and profound. Her engagement with readers is conversational while remaining informative. Yes, there are statistics, graphs, and charts (all of which are beautiful, by the way), but the data reporting does not stifle her clear voice. My Tech-Wise Life not only explains Amy’s experiences with technology; it also continually reminds readers of the need for self-reflection and reevaluation.

Even though the book is appropriate for younger audiences, its self-reflective nature may prove challenging for some. It is hard to look deeply into your own technology habits and critically analyze whether or not you need to make changes. She frequently makes cutting observations like how, for many of her peers, “sitting in silence is dangerous.” Recalling a youth retreat from years past, she shares how her friends didn’t know what to do with how unsettled they felt when they were asked to sit alone for ten minutes of silence on a youth retreat. Some cried, some panicked. This need for distraction to avoid being uncomfortable is a struggle in my life too. It is so much easier to scroll on the internet than sit in silence and feel my feelings or think my thoughts. As much as I fancy myself someone who prefers quietness and contemplation, I hardly make the time to do so anymore. 

Amy’s use of story in My Tech-Wise Life is approachable and profound.

Amy speaks to both extremes of being too distracted and constantly bored. She writes, “The cure for boredom isn’t always adding something, but paying closer attention to what’s already there.” This is one of the most important and helpful insights in her book. In a culture so enamored with immediate gratification and distraction brought about by technology, paying more attention to the world around us is a helpful correction. It’s these kinds of insights that make Amy’s contribution to the technology conversation invaluable.

Following his daughter’s observations in each chapter, Andy offers his insights. As a mom of two young boys, I can relate to his desire to protect his daughter from harm that comes with technology. In the first chapter, after Amy discusses the overwhelming need to compare oneself with others, Andy speaks for all parents when he writes, “It’s wrenching to know that technology amplified all that insecurity, in spite of everything our family did to limit its effects, and that you had to bear that all alone.” There is nothing we can do as parents to fully immunize our children to harm or insecurity, but technology often amplifies such feelings. I’m still young enough to remember a time without widespread internet access, yet I’ve also felt the crushing weight of sadness and looming insecurity that comes with comparison to others on social media. As a parent, I want to do better with my kids.

People in all age groups should be more aware of how they use technology and how it shapes them. This is why My Tech-Wise Life can be used as a resource for children and parents alike. Not only does it identify the challenges of living in a culture where everything is saturated with technology and its influence, but it also goes a step beyond and exhorts readers to better ends: connection through real-life relationships, patience, endurance, honest struggles, and a real self-awareness. All of these can be aided by technology when properly applied and used and My Tech-Wise Life is a great place to begin to wrestle through how to do just that.

Lisa Cooper
Lisa Cooper has a BA in literature and an MA in religion. She is a copywriter at RevelationMedia, the chief editor of The Evangel, and a freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter for theology, funny things her kids say, and upcoming writing projects at @LaLaLisaCooper.

Cover image by Vinicius "amnx" Amano.

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