Friday, August 31, 2012

Overcoming Digital Overload

It has been said that we live in a day of "digital overload." It is so easy to spend too much of our time in ways that lack productivity and purpose. As we are all aware, the internet, television, video games, and many other electronic devices can all have the ability to be used for good or for evil. However, sometimes even too much time spent using media in wholesome ways can be bad if it takes away time from our family or weakens our ability to serve the Lord.

In a May 2009 CES Fireside Address given at BYU, Elder David A. Bednar gave us two questions to consider when choosing our media.

"For your happiness and protection, I invite you to study more diligently the doctrine of the plan of salvation—and to prayerfully ponder the truths we have reviewed. I offer two questions for consideration in your personal pondering and prayerful studying:

1. Does the use of various technologies and media invite or impede the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost in your life?

2. Does the time you spend using various technologies and media enlarge or restrict your capacity to live, to love, and to serve in meaningful ways?

You will receive answers, inspiration, and instruction from the Holy Ghost suited to your individual circumstances and needs."
As I watched Elder Bednar give this talk in the Mormon Message found at the top of this post, I was astounded and realized I needed to make some changes. It's not that what I do on the internet is necessarily bad. It's not. But sometimes I spend too much time doing unproductive things when I could be serving or helping those around me.
One thing that has really helped my family cope with digital overload is ending screen time at 7 pm. As soon as the clock changes from 6:59 to 7:00 family time begins. We exercise, play outside, do chores, play board games, and sometimes even go shopping or go out for ice cream.

We don't always follow this perfectly-- sometimes on Friday or Saturday nights we watch a movie after 7. Sometimes other exceptions have to be made. But the majority of the time we abide by this rule, and it has made all the difference. We now spend more time together as a family and less time "sucked in" to our screens. We interact more and are more productive. Limiting our use of electronic devices during the evening even helps us sleep better. According to the Mayo Clinic, "Some research suggests that screen time or other media use before bedtime interferes with sleep." By turning off our screens at 7 I have noticed a huge difference in my ability to fall asleep faster. Overall our lives are more balanced and we are much happier.

If you haven't already, I challenge you to do as Elder Bednar says and ponder the questions regarding media use listed above. I know that as we seek to make changes and are willing to sacrifice everything we can for the gospel of Jesus Christ (even our precious screen time) we will be blessed.


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