Internet (Family Safety)
Because the Internet is an unregulated, collaborative space, we really have no control over all of the information that our families have access to. New content is posted to the Internet every day. Content spans from teaching people how to tie knots to bomb-making instructions, and from pictures of a recent family reunion to pornography.
Referring to the technology advances of our day, President Faust said the following: "100 years ago, people still traveled by horse and buggy. The age of the telephone and electricity was just dawning. There was no air travel, no E-mail, no fax machines, no Internet. There has been an explosion of secular knowledge. I believe that God has opened up these treasures of intelligence to enhance His purposes on the earth. The new century will bring exponential advances in that treasury."
There are many uses of technology that uplift, unite, bring joy and spread the Gospel. The Internet is a great missionary tool, and countless lives are being blessed every day because of technology. Elder Ballard also taught us that "The Lord, over the centuries, has had a hand in inspiring people to invent tools that facilitate the spreading of the gospel. The Church has adopted and embraced those tools, including print, broadcast media, and the Internet...Now, may I ask that you join the conversation by participating on the Internet to share the gospel and to explain in simple and clear terms the message of the Restoration."
In 2009, Elder Bednar gave the following warning: "I raise an apostolic voice of warning about the potentially stifling, suffocating, suppressing, and constraining impact of some kinds of cyberspace interactions and experiences upon our souls. The concerns I raise are not new; they apply equally to other types of media, such as television, movies, and music. But in a cyber world, these challenges are more pervasive and intense. I plead with you to beware of the sense-dulling and spiritually destructive influence of cyberspace technologies that are used to produce high fidelity and that promote degrading and evil purposes."
True to a timeless pattern, the adversary has inspired corrupt and corrosive uses for technologies that bless this generation. Because all of this content exists together in this vast expanse called the Internet, inappropriate content and dangerous predators are as accessible as the latest copy of the Ensign and the General Conference talks. As parents, we would no more allow our family to wander the Internet without some sort of supervision or control than we would allow them to wander in a big city without our supervision. However, we need to balance that control with appropriate usage of this wonderful technology that puts the world at our fingertips. There is so much good stuff out there that we really don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. It is not realistic to simply turn off the Internet to our homes. Our children are going to access the Web somewhere whether that be at a friend’s home, at our local library, Internet cafés, or at school. There is great benefit to encouraging our children to access the Internet to complete their homework assignments, stay in touch with friends, or to keep up with politics, sports and other worthwhile activities - including using this technology to spread the Gospel, as we have been advised by Church leaders. The Internet will play an increasingly important role in our children’s lives and keeping them away from it would do them a disservice when it comes time for them to find employment in this digital world. Nevertheless, we cannot be naïve about the real dangers lurking on the World Wide Web.
Advice from Church leaders
- President Brigham Young: "“Every discovery in science and art, that is really true and useful to mankind, has been given by direct revelation from God.... We should take advantage of all these great discoveries . . . and give to our children the benefit of every branch of useful knowledge, to prepare them to step forward and efficiently do their part in the great work.”
- Elder Dallin H. Oaks: "Because of modern technology, the contents of huge libraries and other data resources are at the fingertips of many of us. Some choose to spend countless hours in unfocused surfing the Internet, watching trivial television, or scanning other avalanches of information. But to what purpose? Those who engage in such activities are like the two partners in my story, hurrying to and fro, hauling more and more but failing to grasp the essential truth that we cannot make a profit from our efforts until we understand the true value of what is already within our grasp."
- Elder Holland: "Tragically, the same computer and Internet service that allows me to do my family history and prepare those names for temple work could, without filters and controls, allow my children or grandchildren access to a global cesspool of perceptions that could blast a crater in their brains forever."
- Dallin H. Oaks: "We must also act to protect those we love. Parents install alarms to warn if their household is threatened by smoke or carbon monoxide. We should also install protections against spiritual threats, protections like filters on Internet connections and locating access so others can see what is being viewed. And we should build the spiritual strength of our families by loving relationships, family prayer, and scripture study."
Tips & suggestions
- Install a content filter. Set the appropriate filter level for your family, and review the reports so you know how the Internet is being used in your home.
- Learn about how to use the Internet safely and for good purposes. Understand how your children are using it - talk to them about what sites they frequent, and what they do when surfing the web.
- Beware of malicious software. Put appropriate blocks in place to defend against viruses and other malicious software.
- Learn about Internet streaming of TV, Music, Videos and Movies. Which can be done through the internet, apps on internet TVs, mobile devices and game consoles.
- James E. Faust, This is Our Day, Ensign, May 1999, 17; emphasis added
- M. Russell Ballard, Sharing the Gospel Using the Internet, Ensign, July 2008, 58-63
- David A. Bednar, Things as They Really Are, Ensign, Jun 2010, 16–25
- Brigham Young, as quoted in the Deseret News, 22 Oct. 1862, 129
- Dallin H. Oaks, “Focus and Priorities”, Ensign, May 2001, 82
- Jeffrey R. Holland, Place No more for the Enemy of My Soul, Ensign, May 2010, 44–46; emphasis added
- Dallin H. Oaks, Pornography, Ensign, May 2005, 87; emphasis added
- NetSmartz - a program of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
- Internet Safety archive, LDS Media Talk - technology ideas for parents and youth to strengthen families
- Google Family Safety Center - tools, advice from partners and tips from parents.
- Thinkuknow, Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP)
- Get Safe Online - a joint initiative between the UK Government, law enforcement, leading businesses and the public sector.
- Web Access Control, Web Access Control for computers and some mobile devices.
- Free Web Access Control, Free Web Access Control for computer and some mobile devices.
- UK Safer Internet Centre, Advice and resources for parents.