Q&A: Questions and Answers

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“Q&A: Questions and Answers,” New Era, Feb. 2000, 16

Questions and Answers

Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

I like surfing the Internet on our computer, but my parents are worried about it. Aren’t they overreacting?

New Era

  • The Internet can be a powerful tool for good, but only if it is used correctly.

  • Time spent “surfing” should be balanced with other, more important activities.

  • The Internet should be used only when parents or other family members are present.

  • Earn your parents’ trust by using the Intenet wisely.

  • Remember to be safe while using the Internet. Never reveal personal information over the ’net.

Talking about the Internet is difficult because it isn’t really like anything that has come before it. Although the Internet has qualities in common with the telephone, the radio, the television, and even the public library, you can’t really make a fair comparison with any one of those things without leaving out some important aspect of Internet use.

It’s easy to understand why you are excited about using the Internet. It offers information at the push of a button on virtually any topic. Research that once took hours can now be done in minutes. The Church recently launched a Web site that contains extensive family history information. We know that the Internet can be used to help spread the gospel. It can be a powerful tool for good. But just like many other tools, it can be misused and must be handled with care.

If your parents are struggling to come up with rules governing computer use in your home, they’re not the only ones. Governments, schools, libraries, and community groups are all worried about how to control something that seems impossible to keep track of.

And it’s not just unwholesome material that is a pitfall of Internet use. For some people, it’s difficult to limit the time spent “surfing.” Just like time spent watching television, hanging out with friends, or chatting on the phone, the activity itself might be acceptable, as long as the time spent doing it doesn’t take away from more important things.

If you feel that your parents are too strict about the Internet, try to put yourself in their place. Think about why they might be worried about the time you spend in front of the screen. If you can honestly say the Internet is helpful in your life, see if your parents are willing to discuss the standards that will apply in your home. When you all agree to certain rules, both you and your parents should feel a lot better.

Here are some ideas for ground rules you could discuss with your parents:

  • If possible, the family computer should be in a common area of the house, where people pass by often.

  • At least one parent should be at home and nearby when the Internet is in use.

  • Time limits for Internet use should be set, especially when the use is for entertainment instead of education.

  • When visiting certain sites, never reveal information about yourself. If someone asks you for personal information, like your real name, address, phone number, or your parents’ credit card number, leave the site immediately. Tell your parents what has happened.

You and your parents may have other ideas, too. Maybe you could try the new rules on a trial basis, with the understanding that if something isn’t working, it can be changed. Or your parents might decide that it’s best for your house to be Internet-free. Whatever they decide, cheerfully respect and obey their decision. Remember, they only want what’s best for you.


Your parents want you to make it to the celestial kingdom to live with your Heavenly Father. The Internet is full of things that can harm you spiritually, but with the assistance and loving concern of your parents, it is much harder for Satan to influence you.

Cade Taylor, 14
Orem, Utah

There are a lot of good things on the Internet, but there are also a lot of bad things. Maybe you and your parents should agree that you will only use the Internet if your parents are home and they know you are using the computer. I know it works, because it is a rule at my house.

Crissy Renda, 14
Salt Lake City, Utah

Many of the things on the Internet do not help us to live up to Church standards. We need to keep our minds focused on what’s important, and most of the time it’s not on the Internet.

Emily Evans, 13
Sierra Vista, Arizona

Our parents are here to protect us and keep us safe. Our parents love us. Let them know what you are doing on the ‘net.

Paul Willoughby, 18
Portland, Oregon

You should spend time on more important things. Set aside a small amount of time each day to use the computer, but then focus on the other things in your life.

Brandi Zierenberg, 15
Moorpark, California

There is a lot of information on the Internet which is displeasing to the Lord. You may even find that you accidentally come across things which are inappropriate. If you listen to your parents, you’ll be kept safe.

Jo-Anne Edwards, 15
Neath, Wales

Photography by Lana Leishman, posed by model

President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, had this to say about the Internet: “The miracles of modern technology have brought efficiency into our lives in ways not dreamed of a generation ago, yet with this new technology has come a deluge of new challenges to our morals and our values. Some tend to rely more on technology than on theology” (Ensign, Nov. 1999, 47–48).