By Mackenzie Nelson
It’s a rude awakening when you realize that the very habit you are trying to help your child break is a habit of your own. This has been the case for me when I want to cut back on my kids’ screen-time. “Go outside and play!” I insist when they beg to turn on the TV. Cooperatively, off they go. The baby is napping, the house is quiet, and I have a moment to breathe. So what do I do? I melt into the couch and pull out my phone. That’s when I feel the twinge of guilt that I probably need to pick up a book instead. I should be leading by example, even if they aren’t there to see it.
Digital technology is miraculous. At a Regional Representatives Seminar in 1974, President Spencer W. Kimball said, “The Lord is anxious to put into our hands inventions of which we laymen have hardly had a glimpse.” He also prophesied that these inventions would help move the Lord’s work forward. We are witnessing that prophesy come to pass and it is such an exciting thing to be part of.
Because these technologies are so powerful, however, we must use them wisely. If we are not vigilant, we might find our family relationships weakened by intrusive screen-time. One of the simplest ways we can do this is by being intentional with our devices. It is so easy to be entertained by digital tech that if we aren’t careful, we can spend hours on our devices without even noticing the time pass.
When your work is done and you are ready to play, make an effort to take part in tech-free wholesome family recreation. This can look different for every family, but the point is to create family time where you have each others’ undivided attention. You can find some great activity suggestions here! It may take extra effort initially, but your family will greatly benefit. Here are four important things to remember:
Choose activities that build up your family
In his talk, “The Atonement and Faith” Elder Dallin H. Oaks says, “Remember that our Savior Jesus Christ always builds us up and never tears us down. We should apply the power of that example in the ways we use our time, including our recreation and our diversions.” When playing together as a family, build up your kids as they try to learn a new skill like playing basketball, flying kites, or creating artwork.
Remember the phrase, “Good, better, best.”
Leisure time should be filled with the best activities, and not the ones that are merely good. In his talk, “Education for Real Life” President Eyring said, “Too often we use many hours for fun and pleasure, clothed in the euphemism ‘I’m recharging my batteries.’ Those hours could be spent reading and studying to gain knowledge, skills, and culture.” Be selective in the activities you choose and place emphasis on learning. As a family, spend time together exploring a national park, or learn about history by going to a museum.
Remember to have balance.
Balancing recreation with spiritual nourishment is crucial. On the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ website, Elder M. Russel Ballard said, “Seeking out the best recreation can actually provide families with spiritual nourishment to overcome trials and resist temptation.” Providing a lesson and activity during Family Home Evening can be a great setting for this. Allow time for your kids to ask questions. Help them feel comfortable doing so by reading to them Chloe Has a Question, A Very Important Question.
Focus on spending more time together.
Life is full of opportunities. As parents, we want the best for our kids, but we need to be careful about whether or not extracurricular activities cut into precious family time. In his talk, “Good, Better, Best” Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, “Parents should act to preserve time for family prayer, family scripture study, family home evening, and the other precious togetherness and individual one-on-one time that binds a family together and fixes children’s values on things of eternal worth.” One of the best things we can do is spend time talking to each other. Where possible, make dinnertime a priority. Take the time to have meaningful conversations around the dinner table. Conversations with My Kids: 30 Essential Discussion for the Digital Age can give you some awesome conversation starters.
Digital technology does wonders for our lives and families. We just have to remember that time is precious, and we need to spend it on what matters most!
Looking for more help? Check out our free ebook, Good, Better, Best: The Ultimate Media Guide for LDS Families.
Mackenzie Nelson is receiving her Bachelor of Science in Marriage and Family Studies from BYU Idaho this July, and she is very passionate about promoting the family. She and her husband of 14 years have three children. She is a homeschool mom, a painter, and she loves to grow plants, exercise and organize.
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Bednar, E. D., Stevenson, E. G., & Packer, P. B. (n.d.). Media. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics/media?lang=eng
Eyring, H. B. (2002). Education for real life. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Retrieved July 9, 2022, from https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2002/10/education-for-real-life?lang=eng
Oaks, D. H. (2007). Good, Better, Best. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Retrieved July 9, 2022, from https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2007/10/good-better-best?lang=eng
Oaks, D. H. (2010). The Atonement and Faith. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Retrieved July 9, 2022, from https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2010/04/the-atonement-and-faith?lang=eng
Today’s family: Choose wholesome recreation. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (n.d.). Retrieved June 2, 2022, from https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/prophets-and-apostles/unto-all-the-world/choose-wholesome-recreation?lang=eng
Making Wise Choices with Screen Time
“Too often we use many hours for fun and pleasure, clothed in the euphemism ‘I’m recharging my batteries.’ Those hours could be spent reading and studying to gain knowledge, skills, and culture.”–Henry B. Eyring
Looking for a Great Gospel Resource for Your Family?
Everyone has questions. But sometimes, we’re not sure that’s okay. Meet Chloe. She has a question, and it won’t leave her alone. She isn’t sure if it’s okay to have certain questions, especially gospel questions. The more she tries to push her question away, the more it follows her. With her family’s help, Chloe learns one of the most important lessons in gospel living: Questions aren’t just good, they are great!