Live In Real Life: Parents and Youth Across the Country Discuss Technology’s Proper Place

Smartphones and other devices offer numerous benefits. According to Forbes, The New York Times and other sources, they are also cause for alarm. This year, multiple groups of concerned parents around the country have come together to organize, or attend with their youth, events such as those held in May at the Gilbert Campus of the American Leadership Academy and in August at Mesquite High School in Mesa. Presenters at these events and others tackle topics involving screentime/device use and its impact on our children’s safety and well-being. Presenters at such events include social internet crusader Collin Kartchner, national internet safety expert Katey McPherson, author Seth Smith, and author and public speaker Adam Lee Brooks. Events include panel discussions with professionals, law enforcement and teens. Audiences fill and often overflow school cafeterias and auditoriums, as well as church meeting halls.

Parents and youth attend the Live in Real Life event at Mesquite High School in August. Photo courtesy of The New Norm.

Parents and youth attend the Live in Real Life event at Mesquite High School in August. Photo courtesy of The New Norm.

Recently, President Russell M. Nelson, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, invited all women in the Church over the age of 8 to “participate in a 10-day fast from social media and from any other media that bring negative and impure thoughts to [their] mind.” He encouraged them to take note of damaging worldly perspectives, to recognize priority shifts, and to record every related impression.

Common themes emerge from establishing a new balance with social media as well as gaming: improved time management, self-confidence and overall peace.

Jazmin Hidalgo observes, “The biggest change I have seen is that my time is better used during the day, and now I don’t feel the ‘necessity’ to go to social media as much as I did before. I feel better with myself, I have more quality time with myself and my family. I know that the Prophet is inspired by our Heavenly Father and He knows how to advise us in this challenging time in which we live.”

Maggie Good explains, “I have been doing the social media fast for 3 weeks now! I decided after President Nelson gave us the challenge to see how long I could do it. I deleted it the day after he gave us the challenge. After the 10 days were up, I decided to keep going! I have felt my self-confidence go shooting up! I have seen drastic changes in my life. It was just easy, and the right choice for me!”

“I learned that I don’t need social media to feel good about myself or to see how others feel about me,” says Alexys Jack.

Anna Rowley discovered that “when I found myself looking to fill my time, I turned to the scriptures and family history. They left me feeling uplifted and positive. I felt more productive as a mother and wife. In my calling I felt like I had more direction and less distraction. The ironic thing? As I focused more on myself through scripture study and doing family history, and less on others’ lives portrayed on social media, I felt increased peace and more readiness to respond to the spirit’s promptings.”

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