Elder M. Russell Ballard: Make Technology Your Servant, Not Your Master

Elder Ballard referred to speeches he gave in 2007 and 2008 to graduating students at BYU–Hawaii and BYU–Idaho in which he urged them to use advances in technology to become involved in the worldwide conversation about the Church.

“I thought I was rather up to date when I suggested they share their views on blogs,” he said. “Since then, I have been introduced to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+, Instagram—and my secretary told me just as I was leaving something about Snapchat. Wow! It seems like the world of technology cannot stand still, even for a few minutes.”

Saying that today’s pervasive handheld devices such as smartphones are a blessing, he declared: “They need to be our servants, not our masters. For example, if later tonight you share inspiring thoughts from this devotional on social media, your smartphone is a servant. If you randomly surf the Internet, your smartphone is a master.”

He expressed concern about excessive text messaging and use of social media that supplant talking directly with one another and talking in prayer to God.

“Too often, young people find themselves in the same room with family or friends but are busily communicating with someone not present, thereby missing an opportunity to visit with those nearby,” he remarked.

“What I have learned most in my life came from listening to those with great experience, those who had lived longer and learned many important things that I needed to know. Please take advantage to visit and talk with your parents, aunts and uncles, and grandparents while they are still with you.”

He added, “I also worry that some of you check your email, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts or send text messages during the most important gathering in the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, our sacred sacrament meeting.”

Some parents and Church leaders are worried that young people carry their scriptures and other Church resources on their phones and tablets, he said, “but I am not.”

Young people are reading their scriptures as Jesus did when He was given an Isaiah scroll to read from in Nazareth, Elder Ballard observed. “You too can scroll—but please, not during the sacrament,” he said. “Surely during those few minutes you can focus on the Atonement of the Savior as you seek the Spirit of the Lord to bless you for the coming week. And consider putting your smartphone or tablet in airplane mode for the entire Sunday block. You will still have your scriptures, general conference talks, hymnbook, and manuals but will not be distracted by incoming text messages or push notifications.”