I am thankful that my parents were very conscious of the potential pitfalls of to much TV and computer time for kids. My brother and I actually had to pay to watch TV, which is a pretty great system looking back. In college, I read Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman. To be honest, I struggle to remember any of the points he makes in the book (it was 1999….), but I do remember that it cemented my belief that there is something harmful about passive entertainment from screens.
Jump ahead to 2018, and it is a whole new world. In his book The Tech-Wise Family Andy Crouch speaks of technology as “easy everywhere.” Easy travel, easy information, easy distraction. Through our glowing rectangles and other tools, we have access to a lot of easy. This is not bad exactly, but it also is not good. The problem is that being a person is hard. Being wise is hard. Creating is hard. We let the easy information of Google stand-in for the hard wisdom gained from experience and study. We let the easy connection of Facebook stand-in for the hard work of deep relationships. We let the easy of TV stand-in for true wonder of the world around us. We let the easy of consumption stand-in for creating.
All of this is not a surprise to any of you of course. Postman and Crouch are just two of many people talking about this stuff. State Farm has an article about the dangers of screen time on their website. The people who sell you insurance feel like they need to make sure you know that to much screen time is bad for kids. I think we all get it. We just don’t believe it, and we don’t do anything about it.
This blog is about intentionality, and how we are trying to live our family life intentionally. We are doing some things to be intentional with screen time for Abraham and Eden. That is good. The thing that stood out to me from Crouch’s book though is that the intentional choices are not really about what you don’t do with technology, it is about what you are choosing instead. I can clearly see in my own life how I consistently choose the easy over the valuable. There is a lot to say about that, but I do think that a big factor is that I am not intentional about what I am choosing instead of the easy. I am trying to reframe my thinking. Instead of just trying to have more self-control to not get distracted by the shiny object of the latest crazy thing on the news, I want to choose to create value. Instead of being sucked into superficial learning on youtube I want to choose to see the world with wonder. Technology can help with these things, but only if it is in its proper place. I don’t have enough discipline on my own to constantly choose to put it in its place. But, I think I can learn to desire and choose something better.