“… help people negotiate prevailing digital practices in order to meaningfully foster human flourishing in their work, family and community lives? ”
The digitization of everyday life is one of the most profound developments of our times. While techno-optimism still dominates, Christians and non-Christians alike are growing more tired and hungry for a different mode of living. Drawing on an Augustinian view of Christian formation, this project proposes a communal and institutional paradigm for digital engagement by bringing incarnational theology in conversation with sociological and psychological research on the effects of digital practices on brain development, social ties, and identity formation. One key area of investigation concerns the raising of children in a media ecology of smartphones and tablets. A pilot study featuring long-form interviews will examine how parents negotiate their children’s participation and engagement with digital devices, and how their decisions reflect the cultural contradictions of the digital realm.
By developing a theological framework for imagining personhood as being fundamentally defined by the phenomenological limits and possibilities of time, place and presence, this project seeks to offer concrete proposals for navigating a digitally saturated world. It argues that, instead of living lives framed by the dictates of digital media, we have the capacity to imagine sustainable digital practices that are rooted in a theology of human flourishing and genuine encounters.