Avoid iPod "self-indulgence", warns family group

Households are spending an average of $12 a week more on digital goods such as iPods and mobile phones than on electricity, gas and visits to doctors and dentists, according to the director of Sydney's Marriage and Family Office.

The Catholic Weekly reports that Chris Meney has told Australian families to use technology wisely and not allow it to "draw us into troughs of self-indulgence."

"Otherwise," he added, "we will never be happy, for there will always appear to be something or someone that seems 'a little bit better!"

Mr Meney was commenting on an analysis by retail sharebroker CommSec which shows Australians are devoting more of their incomes to digital consumer goods and communications than traditional basics such as clothing and education.

According to Mr Meney, the report shows that the weekly technology household bill is around $26 a week, outstripping spending on essentials like clothing, education and commuting.

According to the Catholic Weekly, CommSec estimates that spending on items like televisions, cameras and iPods has doubled in real terms over the past three years.

Mr Meney said: "The recent data showing that Australians are spending more on telecommunications and electronic gadgets than on traditional goods such as education and clothing draws us towards a wider question. In what areas should we be investing to create better relationships, healthier marriages and more flourishing family lives?

"Do mobile phones draw us closer together or is this an illusion? Do they simply encourage us to become more detached from those to whom we are bodily present at a given time?

"Do we put others on hold in case someone 'more important' is on the line?"

Mr Meney added: "We need to step back somewhat and ask ourselves whether such purchases and ways of life are truly making us more self sacrificing and disciplined persons who are interested in the welfare of others and in building healthy social relationships."

Mobile phones, iPods 'put values at risk' (Catholic Weekly 16/7/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Marriage and Family Life Office, Sydney Archdiocese

Catholic students warned of iPod personal safety risk (CathNews, 15/8/05)
Vatican sees podcasting as important pastoral tool (CathNews 10/11/05)

13 Jul 2006