[photos] Photography by Christina Smith, posed by models

“I know that being violent is wrong, but what about video games?”

Spending time relaxing is an important part of life. We all need some free time to spend with activities of our choosing—reading a book, listening to music, watching a movie, playing video games. However, monitoring the quality of your entertainment is essential in following the Savior.

For the Strength of Youth states: “Depictions of violence often glamorize vicious behavior. They offend the Spirit and make you less able to respond to others in a sensitive, caring way. They contradict the Savior’s message of love for one another” ([2001], 19).

When questioning whether a video game or any other form of entertainment is acceptable, ask yourself, “What is this game trying to represent? Is it drawing me away from the Spirit?” No matter how clever or skillful or fun, the game isn’t worth playing if it damages your ability to receive and respond to the Spirit.

Elder M. Russell Ballard has said: “Limit the amount of time spent playing computer games. How many kills you can make in a minute with a computer game will have zero effect on your capacity to be a good missionary” (“The Greatest Generation of Missionaries,” Ensign, Nov. 2002, 48).

With video games, it’s not always what you’re doing that’s the biggest drawback, but what you’re not doing. If you’re wasting valuable time in front of a monitor in a virtual world, you’re keeping yourself from the blessings and joys of the real world. Instead, spend time with your family and friends, play sports, or attend service projects and other activities that make your life more fulfilling.

“What is more important for women after they get married: to finish an education or to start a family?”

It’s not an either/or decision, because while education is an important step along every woman’s path, so is starting a family. Decisions about timing and other details should be made between you, your husband, and the Lord. President Faust has offered this counsel as you face choices in your life: “Whatever you do, learn to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (“How Near to the Angels,” Ensign, May 1998, 97).

President Gordon B. Hinckley has often stressed getting a good education. To the women of the Church he says that education “is the latchkey to success in life,” but in the next breath he reminds us of President David O. McKay’s teaching, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home” (“To the Women of the Church,” Ensign, Nov. 2003, 115). While education is important, it shouldn’t displace the importance of children and family—for either men or women.

Your choice to have children does not have to exclude finishing your education, or vice versa. A classroom is not the only place to gain an education. Many part-time or distance study options are available to you if you want to finish your education. Even if you have completed the degree you were seeking, you can always become more educated through personal study and experience.

“Whenever I am with my friends, I don’t feel pretty because all the guys flock to my friends. I like my friends, though, so what should I do?”

While it’s important to be well-dressed and well-groomed, if you base your self-worth on looks, you will never be pleased. Even the prettiest girls can find something about their looks to be unhappy about. Everyone has things about themselves—inside and out—that they would love to change. But everyone has special qualities and talents as well. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, identify your strengths, using them to help others. Here’s one tip for a positive self-image: when you think a bad thought about yourself, counter it with five positive things you have done.

If you are feeling negative about yourself, chances are others feel bad about themselves as well. Instead of focusing on yourself, try uplifting your friends or others who don’t get a lot of attention—both boys and girls. Make sure to build them up while not tearing down your other friends. Jealousy is a form of pride; don’t allow it to destroy your relationships.

Try to see yourself and others as the Lord does. “The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). It’ll take a lot of practice, but when you realize your self-worth is not based on how others see your physical appearance, you will have more meaningful friendships based on appreciating each other’s good qualities. We need to develop a self-worth that’s not selfish and that comes from seeing ourselves and others as God sees us: as His children. We shouldn’t measure our worth on an earthly scale, because our origins are divine.