What’s your (de)vice?

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Television—the neglected family member.

Do you recognize this guy? He might be sitting in the same room as you are right now. Chances are he’s hurt by how you’ve been treating him lately. Once the king of American distractions, the TV has become something to be ignored—or marginally watched, at least.

Until personal computing devices, such as smartphones and PDAs (Palm Pilots), came along, TV was the main source of distraction for many of us. Before the convenience of the DVR, families often planned outings and activities around the airing of a favorite TV show. For many of us, the TV was a member of the family that was given more attention and consideration than we often gave each other.

TVs have become as much a “necessity” in our homes as appliances that are actually, you know, necessary. Ironically, the TV is now such an ingrained member of the family that it, too, has joined the ranks of the ignored. Instead of giving our entire focus to the TV like we used to, we now divide our attention between it, our smartphones, tablets, and each other.

We’ve become a distracted society.

The Son of God once invited a couple of distracted fishermen to follow Him (Mark 1:17), which they did, immediately casting their nets aside. Their nets were distractions that were keeping them from more important activities, such as becoming fishers of men. Perhaps if the invitation were issued today, they would have had to cast aside their smartphones or tablets in order to heed Jesus’ invitation.

The Son of God has also invited us to follow Him, a beckoning that’s easy to miss if we have our eyes and hearts glued to our devices. Are we willing to give heed to the Savior’s invitation and to cast aside our distractions as quickly as these fishermen did? If we’ve allowed our personal devices, our TVs, our (insert distraction here) to rule our free time, then we’re being distracted from the things that are most important and we need to refocus our priorities.

TV and our personal devices have their place and can even be tools to help us on our journey to follow the Savior. The trick is to find a way to balance the time we spend “devicing” and the time we spend with our loved ones and engaged in activities that pay eternal dividends.

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles once said: “Handheld devices, such as smartphones … need to be our servants, not our masters.”

So how will you have it? Will you master your devices or let your devices master you?

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