Americans still put family first - but is advancing technology a threat?

Americans rate 'family' higher than any other social factor, but emerging technologies could be a threat to family life.Pixabay

When ranking life priorities, studies suggest most Americans still put their family first. But in a time where shifting values and emerging technology are shaping modern life, is the family at risk?

That's the question explored by author Andy Crouch's latest book The Tech-Wise Family, in collaboration with research by Christian research group Barna, exploring the wise use of technology in modern families.

More than six in ten US adults surveyed by Barna said family played a major role in their life, ahead of their nationality, ethnicity or religion. However, there is some disparity: 76 per cent of 'elders' (born in 1945 or before) said family played 'a lot' of a role in their life, while just 53 per cent of Millennials said the same.

Nonetheless, a commitment to values and helping children to mature remains. Seven in ten parents said they had an explicit set of values for their family. The above infographic by Barna illustrates parental attitudes to engaging with their children, suggesting a strong majority of parents discuss issues of character building daily or at least weekly with their children.

Eight in ten parents say the job of parenting is harder now than it was for previous generations, and 65 per cent of those parents said that technology and social media is the reason why. The interference of digital entertainment and mobile devices is a key disruptor for family life for both adults and children, Barna's study suggests. 

Crouch's The Tech-Wise Family explores 'everyday steps for putting technology in its proper place'. As its description writes: 'Making conscientious choices about technology in our families is more than just using internet filters and determining screen time limits for our children.

'It's about developing wisdom, character, and courage in the way we use digital media rather than accepting technology's promises of ease, instant gratification, and the world's knowledge at our fingertips. And it's definitely not just about the kids.'

Crouch writes in his book: 'Technology is in its proper place when it helps us bond with the real people we have been given to love. Technology is in its proper place when it starts great conversations; when it helps us take care of the fragile bodies we inhabit; when it helps us acquire skills and mastery of domains that are the glory of human culture (sports, music, the arts, cooking, writing, accounting; the list could go on and on).

'Technology is in its proper place when it helps us cultivate awe for the created world we are part of and responsible for stewarding. Technology is in its proper place only when we use it with intention and care.'

The Tech-wise Family is available to buy here