Mormon Channel Blog

Self Reliance: Spending Time Online Wisely

October 17, 2015

Matt Barkdull, a manager at LDS Family Services, shares his insights with us about why it’s so important to spend our time online wisely.

An explosion of technology has changed the way we work, shop, recreate, communicate, and receive information. Miraculously, innovators have managed to compact this technology into smartphones, tablets, and other highly portable devices, thus increasing our access to the online world. It’s no wonder that many are referring to the 21st century as “the information age.”

Social scientists and media organizations have studied the amount of time individuals spend online. One recent 2015 study conducted by the Nielsen Company found that, on average, adults spend more than 11 hours a day using electronic media. Spending extensive amounts of time online, especially on social media, has been shown to increase the likelihood of engaging in risky online behaviors, putting ourselves at greater risk of compromising our safety. Given these present realities, it’s important that we pause and begin to “consider [our] ways” (Haggai 1:5) regarding how we spend our time online.

Elder Ian S. Ardern of the Seventy taught that “time is never for sale; time is a commodity that cannot, try as you may, be bought at any store for any price. Yet when time is wisely used, its value is immeasurable. … We must devote our time to the things that matter most (“A Time to Prepare,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 31). While Church leaders have repeatedly taught that using technology and social media are not inherently wrong, Elder Quentin L. Cook counseled us to not be “led astray by distracting and destructive pursuits” (“Are You a Saint?” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2003, 96).

As online resources are a large part of our lives, how can we wisely manage our time without becoming distracted? Consider the following ideas:

  • Establish a Time Limit. King Solomon wisely observed that “to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Setting a time limit gives us an opportunity to approach our online activities with purpose. Time limits tend to prioritize our actions and help us accomplish our original purpose for going online.
  • Make a Plan. Creating a detailed priority list before going online may seem like extra work, but it pays dividends by increasing productivity and recall. As one would find it difficult to shop without first planning for and preparing a grocery list, so online priorities can be established and taken care of first before engaging in other online activities.
  • Seek for Balance and Prioritization. Elder M. Russell Ballard stated, “Perhaps if you, too, search your hearts and courageously assess the priorities in your life, you may discover … that you need a better balance among your priorities” (“Keeping Life’s Demands in Balance,” Ensign, May 1987). It’s wise to consider balancing and prioritizing when we choose to engage in online activity. It is important to schedule Internet access after priorities have been satisfied, which may be after children are asleep, homework is done, or work has ended.

President Brigham Young said, “We are all indebted to God for the ability to use time to advantage, and he will require of us a strict account of [its] disposition” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young [1997], 286).

May we be wise stewards of our time while still enjoying online resources and activities for righteous and worthy purposes.