General Conference, Sunday Morning (Scroll Archive)

Elder M. Russell Ballard: “Pokemon Go” distracts from what matters most

Elder Ballard shared his thoughts about “Pokemon Go” in the Regional Broadcast on Sept. 11, 2016.

Elder M. Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, invited members to remember that the Lord counseled His children to find time to be still and know that He is God.

“Now someone has found one more way to keep family members occupied away from what matters most,” Elder Ballard said. “It’s something called ‘Pokemon Go.’ I don’t understand this, and don’t ask me anything about it. I just know one thing is that young people, and maybe a lot of old people, they look down on their smartphones, trying to find Pokemon, I guess, instead of looking up to see the beautiful creations of God’s wonderful world.”

The Church released an article counseling members how to react with the “Pokemon Go” players that go to the Church sites, according to

“Regardless of the reason that brings visitors to Church facilities, we need to remember that the way we react to visitors may affect their understanding and feelings about the Church,” according to

Church leaders counseled members to view any visit as an opportunity, be friendly and welcoming, invite participation and become informed to better answer questions, according to

“Our opportunities to shine surround us each day, in whatever circumstance we find ourselves,” said President Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “As we follow the example of the Savior, ours will be the opportunity to be a light in the lives of others, whether they be our own family members and friends, our co-workers, mere acquaintances or total strangers.”

'Elder M. Russell Ballard: “Pokemon Go” distracts from what matters most' have 22 comments

  1. September 19, 2016 @ 8:46 pm Matt

    I think this is a joke, I have seen more of the world around me as I’m actually leaving my house to do this. Many people are going out and finding a sense of community and amazement around them thanks to this game.


    • September 21, 2016 @ 7:37 am Phil Ollero

      If you claim to have seen more playing Pokémon, then I think your has to expand.


      • September 21, 2016 @ 10:54 pm Rebecca

        One, learn how to type whole ideas. Two, many people don’t feel comfortable leaving their houses. Plenty of people are not outgoing types and the church tends to shun those that are introverted. This game gave many people an opportunity to leave their houses. So stop being a Pharisee and let people do what makes them happy and fulfilled.


        • September 25, 2016 @ 6:32 pm Jake

          I believe in following the council of our apostles, even if I don’t understand why they give it. I know that these Brethren are led and guided by inspiration, and that by following their council and guidance that we can have greater peace and joy in our lives.


          • September 26, 2016 @ 2:27 pm Kristoff Troll

            I agree with Jake. Even if we don’t fully understand the reasons for what the Brethren say, we need to listen to and follow them because they have been called by God. This doesn’t just apply to Pokemon Go, but to all aspects of the gospel. Besides, Pokemon Go doesn’t bring true happiness, just temporary pleasure. Think of all the things you could be doing besides it, such as spending QUALITY TIME with your family, strengthening bonds with friends, reading the scriptures, studying gospel doctrine, even watching General Conference (this Weekend) etc. All of these things are infinitely better than staring at a device all day. Also, I’ve asked a lot of people about Pokemon Go, and they say that it lost it’s appeal after about a week because they were just wasting their whole days trying to “level up” or “catch ’em all” rather than seeking God’s will and doctrine from the prophet, apostles, and scriptures. So, I won’t tell anyone how to live their life, because I have different problems than everybody else, but I will just say that I am willing to support and listen to the men who Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ chose to lead the church.

          • September 26, 2016 @ 7:17 pm Claudio

            The point is, what was he trying to teach? I think many people misunderstood his teachings or distorted his words. He was teaching something known: be careful in the way you spend your time; don’t forget your porpouse on earth. Don’t forget why are we here and Kingdom’s affairs.
            It’s just my opinion. I guess they have their own hobbies or entertainment.
            Greetings from Argentina (sorry for my English)

          • October 5, 2016 @ 9:19 am Dorothy Helms

            “Amen” thank you for your comment!

  2. September 19, 2016 @ 10:31 pm Jeremy

    There’s no way this is real is there? Pokemon go does far more good in the world than harm.


  3. September 20, 2016 @ 3:05 am Sarah

    Old man shouts at cloud, more news at 5


  4. September 20, 2016 @ 5:36 am James

    So basically anything that isn’t praising God is a waste of time? So much for anything fun. Can’t play sports or read books since they’re wastes of time.


    • September 20, 2016 @ 7:26 pm Taylor

      I would disagree with that. The word of wisdom is about more than what not to drink or smoke or eat. We’re supposed to take care of our bodies. And yes, that includes exercising and being joyous about having a body to do things with. Haha even when it is crushing other guys in football pads. But things that truly bring joy usually center around things that have eternal importance anyways. Games of endurance and sports ability focus around the body, and learning to improve ourselves (with moderation, of course). Board games and the like (not my personal favorite, but hey) encourage familial and interpersonal relationships with others. Hiking is about being able to see God’s creations and again, exerscise our bodies. It’s my own opinion, lol and no hard feelings if you disagree, but video games just don’t really have eternal importance or relevance, and can actually be quite addicting and detracting from real life, and therefore I don’t choose to play them often, and usually not at all. Elder Ballard didn’t make an apostolic statement that no one anywhere should ever use Pokémon go again, he simply expressed his concern that the effects could be less than great. And quite frankly, my friend, I feel like he might be someone good to listen to. He’s kind of an apostle called by Christ Himself. But again, we all have choices! And it’s always best to let those be directed and guided by the Holy Ghost, even when the prophet and apostles do say something.


      • September 21, 2016 @ 2:21 am Samantha

        I would disagree with you on behalf of James. This game inspired hundreds of people here in Rexburg to go out and mingle with their neighbors. It was beautiful how many people had nothing in common besides their residences and the fact that they were playing this game. They got to see the wonders of the world around them and learn that people are generally good. I think that you are right than anything out of moderation is bad, but by stating that he first doesn’t understand it, and second that it exists simply to distract from what matters most means that he isn’t really qualified to speak on the issue. He fails to see the good it does in the world. But, I guess as you said it isn’t an apostolic statement, so he’s just speaking as a man so he can be wrong.


    • September 26, 2016 @ 2:52 pm Joey

      That isn’t what he is saying at all. While it’s true that Pokemon Go can be seen as fun and entertaining, what will it benefit you after you die. Just piles of wasted time and temporary pleasure. As for reading, I’m pretty sure that past and present prophets have actually encouraged us to read. D&C 88:118 “And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” If reading was wrong, then why would this verse be in an inspired, and fundamental book of the Church’s doctrine? As for sports, exercise is important and it provides an opportunity to let off steam, and enjoy recreational activities where you can strengthen bonds with family and friends. If I am wanting to know if an activity is uplifting and righteous, something that I have found that works for me is to search the words of the prophets, apostles, the scriptures, etc. In the words of a past apostle, “When we are truly in tune with the spirit, the mysteries of Heaven make sense to us.” If the Brethren take time to actually address a specific issue, that is definitely substantial evidence for me that I should listen and follow what they say.


  5. September 20, 2016 @ 8:31 am Tim

    Authoritarian groups and their leaders hate and fear anything they can’t cotrol.


  6. September 20, 2016 @ 3:14 pm Geimmy Apolinario

    Yo pienso que todos malinterpretan las palabras del elder M. Russell!!!!
    El esta indicándonos que debemos tener cuidado de priorizar el entretenimiento (que es muy importante para tener un buen día) con las cosas que tienen mucha importancia como el pasar tiempo en familia!!!
    No veo ningún mandato por parte del líder eclesiástico que prohíba jugar este inocente juego :D !!!!


  7. September 20, 2016 @ 11:51 pm Apostol

    You guys all know the church probably isn’t true right?


  8. September 21, 2016 @ 2:02 am Fark

    I can bear my testimony that Pokemon Go is of the devil. Since it’s release, I have stayed inside all hours of the day, only leaving my apartment to go to class and to church. I have spent all my leisure time reading the holy scriptures. The less free time I have, the less sinful I will be. Not only do I feel more spiritual than I did before, but I have come to know that Pokemon Go players are just pretty unrighteous as a whole, especially ever since this broadcast. Thanks, Ballard!


    • September 21, 2016 @ 9:06 am Tyler

      I know what you mean. I admit that I endulged a moment of sin by looking up from my scriptures and noticing the heathens around me playing Pokémon Go. One such heathen was listening to secular music and drinking a caffeinated beverage. It was nearly more than I could bear. Luckily, my garments protected me from ill health and I was able to return to a path of righteousness.


  9. September 26, 2016 @ 8:35 pm Claudio

    It was a joke, and not a doctrinal point. You can watch this in:
    Watch from minute 24. Elder Ballard, a great speaker!!!
    Greetings from Argentina


  10. September 27, 2016 @ 11:46 am Connor

    I believe that our society has become entirely too focused on entertainment in general. Entertainments are easy to justify with one fringe benefit or another, but truly, seeking entertainment simply for the sake of entertainment will draw a person away from God. A vast majority of today’s popular entertainment contains content that specifically drives away the spirit, i.e. violence, appeal to vanity/pride, sexual content, encouraging users to “pretend” to break commandments or praise those who do, etc… But even those that literally contain nothing bad still require the user to cease other righteous pursuits in the space of time that they engage with said entertainment.
    There are some that have stated that Pokemon Go enhances our ability to connect with other people, and in response to them I would submit that while it has an effect in bringing groups of people together physically, it is impossible to truly and fully connect with another person who is even partially engaged in playing Pokemon Go. Surely there will be conversation while playing, but a distraction is a distraction; players will be limited in their ability to care about other people when they are absorbed in a game that draws their attention away from the other person. This may seem hyperbolic or even ridiculous, but I would challenge the reader to try to have a meaningful conversation on the phone while at the same time texting or messaging another person about an unimportant, unrelated topic. Would it not have been more meaningful if he or she had devoted his or her full attention to the conversation? If this doesn’t illustrate it well enough, try to think of and hum different tunes you know while simultaneously listening a song you really like.
    I would also submit that it is impossible to truly and fully connect with the Spirit while our thoughts are drawn to wondering how we are progressing in a virtual game, even when we aren’t looking at it. This truly goes for any game or entertainment that we spend a large amount of time thinking about. To truly have an eye single to the glory of God, we must do what we must to clear our minds and eliminate distractions from our lives so that we can be receptive to the Spirit even in the moments when we don’t necessarily expect to be guided. I do believe that mental breaks are useful and can increase productivity, but I also believe that for us to claim that we absolutely need these distractions in order to cope with or escape the stresses of life, it is a clear indicator that we are not fully reliant upon God or the Spirit.
    We can and should be asking for heavenly help when things go wrong and stress builds in our lives. Emotional turmoil can be healed. When realizing that we have a choice between lasting healing and a temporary painkiller, can we truly be alright with the painkiller? We can and should be praying to receive mental and emotional healing and relief in the moment.
    If we are continually turning to sources other than God for our relief, we are not truly converted.
    As we pursue entertainment for the sake of entertainment, opportunities pass us by, big and small.
    What can we sacrifice to grow closer to God? Are we willing to do so?
    I bear testimony that sacrifice brings happiness. This witness I bear in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


    • September 27, 2016 @ 11:51 am Connor



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