You may have 400 friends on Facebook or 200 followers on Twitter, but how many of those people do you actually interact with outside the virtual world? Church leaders have warned us to avoid the kind of digital immersion that prevents us from enjoying person-to-person communication, but we have also been counseled to use Internet tools to spread the gospel and do good. So how do we find that happy balance?
Technology is an integral part of our lives that will only keep improving and presenting us with different modes of communication. With the potential for good that technology introduces, the best method in dealing with it is (as it is in most things) moderation.
To begin finding this balance, ask yourself this question: to what extent is this tool enhancing my life and my ability to feel the Spirit? Here are some tips for creating that balance within your home.
1. Consider where you fit on the technology spectrum. How much time do you spend online each day? To calculate it, track how much time you spend online for one week, then compare it to the amount of time you spend getting things done for yourself and your family offline. If your time online is greater than your time offline, consider making changes until the times are balanced.
2. Establish a “check out” phone system for your family. Get a cell phone for the kids, or use your own. Allow your children to take the cell phone to call you after practice, or other activities, and to check the phone back in when they come home.
3. Establish technology-free “zones” in your life. These zones might include dinnertime, date night, church, family time, and right before bedtime.
4. Use a timer to alert yourself (and others) of the end of a gaming session. Once the timer goes off, log out of the game and get off of the computer. It may be tempting to set the timer again, but don’t.
5. Never check social networks in the morning. You can easily lose track of time catching up on what your friends had for breakfast.
6. Use “message rules” for e-mails. Through your e-mail service, you can sort your mail into folders which will allow you to set up “message rules” for yourself. Make folders that allow you to separate your e-mails into critical items and not-so critical items. Then look at the most critical messages first. This helps prioritize before you even start the day.
So much good can be had from the tools modern technology provides. Each family simply needs to decide how much is the right amount for them. Set personal goals. Then talk to your children and share your ideas on what is important—they might even come up with more ideas for how the family could improve. Work out reasonable parameters with everyone for balancing technology with family life, and revisit the plan on a regular basis.
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