“Sabbath Day Technology,” New Era, January 2017
Your phone buzzes. Almost without even thinking about it, you check it. One new message. You open it, read it, and quickly text a reply. It’s almost a reflex.
You look up and remember where you are: church. It’s not like you actually forgot you were at church. You just checked out for a few seconds. But it does take you a minute to focus on what’s going on around you. And you are still thinking about that message …
Has this ever happened to you?
Technology can be so distracting! Do you ever feel like your phone controls part of you? Your phone buzzes and seems to say, “Look at me,” and you do. Sometimes you check your phone when it doesn’t even buzz. (You totally want to check your phone right now, don’t you?)
So is technology a bad thing? It can certainly distract us from what matters most. It can also bring a lot of garbage into our lives. But the thing is, technology is also a huge blessing and brings so much goodness. Even on Sundays! Even at church! The Sabbath is the Lord’s day. We should be focused on Him and His gospel, not on entertaining ourselves. But if we can ignore and avoid all of the distractions (no, you don’t have to check that notification), then technology can really enhance our Sabbath observance. How? Here are 20 suggestions.
Put your phone on airplane mode during Church meetings. Then you can use your digital scriptures and Come, Follow Me outlines without any incoming distractions. Don’t worry. Your messages will all be waiting after church. And three hours really isn’t that long if you think about it.
Set a goal to share one thing you learned from church in a personal text or on social media. It can be a thought you had or a quote or scripture you liked from a lesson.
Mark and take notes on digital scriptures in the Gospel Library app, which also lets you put scriptures and quotes into personalized categories by creating tags.
Connect with family or friends who are far away. Take some time to video chat with someone you love.
Do family history using FamilySearch.org. Whether it’s indexing, adding stories about relatives, or finding your ancestors, technology makes it so easy. There’s even a FamilySearch Tree and FamilySearch Memories app to make it easy on mobile devices.
Set goals for the upcoming week and set reminders on your device. (“Remember to read your scriptures!” “Write down five things you’re grateful for!”) It’s a great time to set reminders to act on promptings from the Spirit you received during church.
Start a texting group where everyone can share scriptures, quotes, or other uplifting messages.
Listen to awesome and uplifting music on the LDS Youth music player at lds.org/go/YouthMusic or on the LDS Youth app.
You can also download sheet music from the LDS Youth music player. Print it out and learn a new song!
Chances are, you’re way more tech savvy than someone else in your family. Teach Dad something about FamilySearch or show Grandma how to text.
Did a friend miss church? Shoot him or her a text reminder about upcoming activities.
Check out all of the Church’s mobile apps. Sure, there’s the Gospel Library, LDS Music, and LDS Tools, but did you know about the LDS Youth and Bible Videos apps? You can also find apps for a scripture a day or Mormon Messages.
Work on your Personal Progress or Duty to God online.
Create a profile on Mormon.org (if you’re 14 or older and have your parent’s permission).
Download and listen to talks from general conference.
Write about your life! If journaling isn’t your thing, set a timer for 10 minutes and just write what comes to mind.
Read the lessons for next week. You can find the manuals in the Gospel Library app or on LDS.org. Write down your thoughts and questions.
Visit volunteer.lds.org for simple ways you can serve online. For example, you can tag images with keywords that you would use to search for them. You can also share your photos for possible Church use.
Use a recorder or a smartphone to record a family member’s voice for record keeping. Think about how cool it will be to listen to years (or even months) from now.
Write and send five personal and uplifting messages to people.
Also, remember, don’t be afraid to disconnect from technology for a bit. The great thing about technology is that you can turn it off.