(originally published on Oct 2, 2009 but revised and updated on December 2, 2011)
I heard it said recently that cellphones have become the electronic pacifier of the 21st century. Wow! Yes…that is true. We have students that cannot be without their cell phone. As a girls minister, we have seen this to be a problem not just for our teens but for our parents as well. Sometimes parents are the ones who are wanting their child to have a cell phone so that they can talk with them at an event. We’ve seen unfortunate distractions happen because cell phones were carelessly used at an event by a student who couldn’t stay away from it. Ironically when boundaries are placed on using the cellphone at events or on mission trips, some students express thanks for the break of being “available 24-7”. But there are other layers to this constant need for connection. We have become a society that cannot hit pause…not even in the car. And literally we are seeing a collision occur when people put their need for cell phone connection and/or production above the safety of themselves and others as people continue to maintain constant communication even while they are driving. It’s becoming an addiction, although Texting Queen Emilee Cox might not say it’s an addiction with her 35,463 Texts In 30 Days.
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So what are we going to do about it? Here are a few of my ideas to help wean students from a cell phone addiction.
1. While on our mission experiences, we have told students they can’t have their cellphones except during certain breaks. To ensure that their cellphone is charged and checked in, we created these charging tubs. Their name is written in sharpie on a strip of duct tape, and using a dry erase marker, we can check in their phone after each break. We’ve had students thank us for doing this because it allowed them to truly be present when they needed to be present.
2. During small groups, have a “cell phone condo”—-A box that states: “Where Your Cell Phone Lives During small groups.” You could also just have a cell phone bucket placed in the middle of the room and have students place their cell phones in there during small groups.
3. Have your students fill out a cell phone covenant with you. It could look something like this:
I understand that it is possible to make my cell phone an idol or that it may become an addiction for me. I understand that an “addiction is when we’re seeking to find something that only God can provide in something besides God Himself.” (as stated by Craig Groeschel, life church tv) In order to not let this take place in my life, I will agree to a cell phone sabbath where I make the choice to detach myself from my phone once a week.
I will seek to have a cell phone sabbath hour every day during the hours of_________ to ___________.
I will leave my phone outside of my bedroom each night so that I can truly rest and not get caught up in any activity or conversation I might find myself in late at night or early in the morning if it were accessible.
Please keep me accountable to this agreement and ask how I am doing on a regular basis.
I’ve posted another cellphone contract that you can get ideas from here: Cell Phone Contract 2
4. If you are a parent, you may want to consider getting an app that restricts texting while driving. Here are some options:
5. Let’s not forget that modeling cell phone habits is teaching our students and children much more than we may think. I had a student tell me she thought I was using my phone more than I should. She challenged me to not use my phone for 24 hours and she would tell as many people she could about Jesus if I took the challenge. It was a win win for everyone. I took the challenge, and I learned a little about my own cell phone habits. 🙂
I’m sure there are several other things we can do. What have you tried, tested, rejected, and celebrated regarding helping wean students from the cellphone addictive habits? Leave a comment or drop me a line at: firstname.lastname@example.orgTweet