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Values in the Media: A look at General Conference

Published: Thursday, April 4 2013 2:15 p.m. MDT

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf speaks during the 182nd Semiannual General Conference.

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SALT LAKE CITY — For Kathryn Skaggs the word "media" is a buzzword any time she is listening to a talk in church. That's doubly true on days like Saturday and Sunday this week, during the 183rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Skaggs, of Murrieta, Calif., will join with more than 20,000 other Mormons seated in the church's Conference Center to listen to talks on gospel topics, family unity and financial responsibility while millions of others watch and listen.

Skaggs will be posting her reflections in real-time on Twitter and again later in her blog about Mormonism.

"I'm extremely sensitive to the counsel that is given by church leaders when it comes to the use of social media, in particular, as I realize that above all, for me, it is likely where I am most vulnerable to losing sight of needed boundaries," Skaggs said.

"With technology today, staying connected via social networking requires little to no effort," she added. "So the question often is not so much about difficulty, but rather distraction."

During the last general conference in October, Skaggs caught a reference to this very kind of distraction — letting time with technology get in the way of face-to-face time with people — in President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk titled "Of Regrets and Resolutions."

"In our day it is easy to merely pretend to spend time with others. With the click of a mouse, we can 'connect' with thousands of 'friends' without ever having to face a single one of them," said President Uchtdorf, a member of the LDS Church’s First Presidency, in his talk. "Technology can be a wonderful thing, and it is very useful when we cannot be near our loved ones."

"However, I believe that we are not headed in the right direction, individually and as a society, when we connect with family or friends mostly by reposting humorous pictures, forwarding trivial things, or linking our loved ones to sites on the Internet.

"I suppose there is a place for this kind of activity," President Uchtdorf continued, "but how much time are we willing to spend on it? If we fail to give our best personal self and undivided time to those who are truly important to us, one day we will regret it."

For Skaggs, any regrets about who and what she spent her time with is something she works to avert as she uses all kinds of social media, and spends time with those she loves.

"I want my family and friends to always know that when I am with them, they are the priority, so I try my best to focus my attention and conversations on them when I am with them," Skaggs said.

For Andrew Davis, President Uchtdorf's talk sent a similar message, and further inspired him to manage his time with his technology and media as best he could. Davis, who lives in Logan, Utah, owns SmallDot Design, and uses all kinds of technology for his daily work.

"This (talk) affected me because I have been trying to balance my time — my business is online and on the computer — and I asked myself, 'Should I devote my time to that?'" Davis said. "It's my life — design and the Internet with the stuff that I do. But what I took from what he was saying is that it's good to allow us a break, but that break shouldn't be our day, it should be a small portion of it."

"We need to focus on the things that are becoming less popular, like time with family, parents and siblings. And not just sitting in the living room playing video games, but actually spending time with people," he said.

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