One of the many challenges we received in the April 2018 sessions of General Conference was from President Ballard’s talk entitled “Precious Gifts from God”:
“Too many allow themselves to almost live online with their smart devices—screens illuminating their faces day and night and earbuds in their ears blocking out the still, small voice of the Spirit. If we do not find time to unplug, we may miss opportunities to hear the voice of Him who said, ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’ Now, there is nothing wrong with taking advantage of the advances in the technologies inspired by the Lord, but we must be wise in their use.”
With this challenge in mind, check out five things we can do to make technology a positive part of our lives. Each point even includes counsel from a General Conference talk!
- Put away phones at dinnertime. Families today are busier than ever. Shouldn’t we make sure that in at least some of our moments together, we’re really together? Dinner and other meals are a great chance to focus on each other instead of our devices. For parents who want to help each other and their children, “dinner hour and the family time that follows become the center of their day and the object of their best efforts. They turn off electronics and forgo personal entertainment in order to help with household duties.” –L Whitney Clayton, “Marriage: Watch and Learn”
- Use filters on electronic devices. There will never be a foolproof way to keep all harmful media out of our homes, but using personalized safety settings on our smartphones and computers makes can make things much easier. Even kids should be involved in this effort. “As we counsel with our children, together we can create a family plan with standards and boundaries, being proactive to protect our homes with filters on electronic devices.” –Linda S. Reeves, “Protection from Pornography—a Christ-Focused Home”
- Have a purpose behind your technology time. Many of us waste hours on our electronic devices and get nothing out of it. We will be happier and more productive if we make a conscious choice to either do something worthwhile with our technology—such as family history, schoolwork, or reaching out to friends—or not pull out our devices at all. “Perhaps every person who is listening might also ask . . . ‘Are the hours I am investing an effective use of my valuable time?’ . . . If the answer is not a resounding yes, then we should have the courage and determination to click the off button and direct our lives to more important tasks.” –Harold G. Hillam, “Teachers, the Timeless Key”
- Focus on uplifting content. So much of the media is ugly, discouraging, and hateful. Why dirty our minds and hearts with this content when we can look for and share things that are beautiful, encouraging, and loving? “[W]ith the blessings of modern technology, we can express gratitude and joy about God’s great plan for His children in a way that can be heard not only around our workplace but around the world. Sometimes a single phrase of testimony can set events in motion that affect someone’s life for eternity.” –Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Waiting on the Road to Damascus”
- Put holy things first. How often do we tell ourselves we don’t have time to spend on the scriptures after spending plenty of time on social media? Instead, we should make sure to prioritize heavenly things above technology. “Every time you plug in your phone, use it as a reminder to ask yourself if you have plugged in to the most important source of spiritual power—prayer and scripture study, which will charge you with inspiration through the Holy Ghost.” –Randall L. Ridd, “The Choice Generation”
How do you use technology effectively in your life? Comment with your ideas below and remember the wise counsel of our leaders!