Fourteen years ago today your father and I were married. Not much the sealer said before the ceremony has stuck with me. However one thing has stayed with me, “Don’t fritter away your time.”
I’m proud of you. You worked really hard and saved to help buy your iPod. I notice you‘re pretty attached to it. Yesterday while inspecting it I noticed you recently added more games and other apps beyond Angry Birds.
Speaking of Angry Birds, Elder Ian S. Ardern gave a really great talk at General Conference. Essentially, he said don’t fritter away your time. I’ve incorporated many of his words into this letter to you.
For example, it is wonderful to have the means of instant communication quite literally at our fingertips, but let us be sure that we do not become compulsive fingertip communicators. I sense that some are trapped in a new time-consuming addiction—one that enslaves us to be constantly checking and sending social messages and thus giving the false impression of being busy and productive.
There is much that is good with our easy access to communication and information. I have found it helpful to access research articles, conference talks, and ancestral records, and to receive e-mails, Facebook reminders, tweets, and texts. As good as these things are, we cannot allow them to push to one side those things of greatest importance. How sad it would be if the phone and computer, with all their sophistication, drowned out the simplicity of sincere prayer to a loving Father in Heaven. Let us be as quick to kneel as we are to text.
One of the things you and I both love most is the buttons we can push to communicate on our phones, iPods and computers. I am glad you can communicate with your friends on your iPod. I am happy you have music to listen to while you perform meaningful service like mowing the lawn of an elderly couple in our ward, or even our family lawn. I hope the technology you love so much never gets in the way of truly listening to your family, friends, or experiencing life to the fullest. I hope it never gets in the way of serving.
I know you are frustrated we don’t like you to walk around the house with ear buds in all the time. This is because we like to talk to you. We like you to talk to us. We don’t want our relationship with you lost to the latest from Weezer, no matter how great a band they are.
Electronic games and cyber acquaintances are no lasting substitute for real friends who can give an encouraging hug, who can pray for us and seek after our best interest.
You and I both know people in my family who have stopped progressing emotionally, spiritually and physically because they prefer chat rooms and online gaming to getting jobs, going to school or building lasting relationships. I’m sure they didn’t plan it that way. Time got away from them moment by moment, chat room to chat room and level to level. It’s not that they are doing something bad; it’s that they aren’t doing anything good.
I know our greatest happiness comes as we tune in to the Lord (see Alma 37:37) and to those things which bring a lasting reward, rather than mindlessly tuning in to countless hours of status updates, Internet farming, and catapulting angry birds at concrete walls. I urge each of us to take those things which rob us of precious time and determine to be their master, rather than allowing them through their addictive nature to be the master of us.
You’re doing well in school. School isn’t difficult for you. Sometimes when things come easy, it’s easy to procrastinate and put things off until the last moment. Sometimes this means your iPod disappears for a day or two.
With the demands made of us, we must learn to prioritize our choices to match our goals or risk being exposed to the winds of procrastination and being blown from one time-wasting activity to another… I invite us to identify the time-wasting distractions in our lives that may need to be figuratively ground into dust. We will need to be wise in our judgment to ensure that the scales of time are correctly balanced to include the Lord, family, work, and wholesome recreational activities.
This doesn’t mean don’t relax. Down time is good, even important. Technology can provide us fun and wholesome activities we can enjoy together as a family, or quiet time alone crashing birds into concrete walls. Often it relieves boredom on long car rides. It provides creative outlets, helps us keep in touch with others and expands our minds with new ideas. But it can also dull the mind and crush innovation and imagination when we allow ourselves to become drones to technology.
I love you so much. I want good things for you. I want you to love the world and all that it has to offer. I want you to explore and think and learn and create. I want you to use all the wonderful talents our Heavenly Father has blessed you with to bless the lives of others and find fulfillment in your own life. Remember our time is limited here; maybe more so than we know, don’t fritter it away.
We’ll probably talk more about this in Family Home Evening, but until then remember I love you every time you have to ask me to type the password into the computer, or I ask you to hand over your iPod until your homework is done. Eventually it will be all up to you how and when you use technology.
Do you set limits on tech use in your home? If so how? Do you worry about your teens and excessive tech use? To what extent is it hurting our relationships? To what extent is it enriching them?