Cellphones are here to stay. That’s why you need these 5 do’s and don’ts of cell phones in your ministry.
I remember when I was a kid and my grandmother showed us her new car phone. It came in a big black bag and took up the entire space between the front two seats of her van! So much has changed since then. Those car phones of yesteryear have given way to cell phones, and thankfully, we no longer need cars to carry our phones around!
For many, cell phones have become a necessity. And more and more parents are buying them for their kids. According to research collected by Elizabeth Englander from Bridgewater State University, 40 percent of kids have their own cell phone by fifth grade. That number jumps to around 83 percent by the time kids reach middle school (theatlantic.com).
With cell phones now the norm for many families, let’s take a look at some do’s and don’ts for handling cell phones in your ministry.
Do Connect With Parents-
It’s not just kids who love their cell phones. According to a Harris Interactive Study, 63 percent of women and 73 percent of men who own smartphones check them hourly. If you aren’t connecting with parents in this way, you are missing out on a quick and easy mode of communication. Ask parents to share their contact information so you can replace the take-home flier with a quick text. Don’t Share Contact Info With Kids- Others may disagree with this one, but personally, I say don’t share your contact information-or that of your volunteers-with kids. Why? For the same reason ministries should never allow a child and an adult to be together behind closed doors. By giving parents your number, you let your kids know that you’re there for them whenever they need you-but by first asking their parents’ permission to call.
Do Have a Plan-
If your ministry’s handbook doesn’t include a section on cell phones, it may be time to review and update it. Many parents want their kids to have a cell phone on them at all times in case of an emergency, so a total ban on cell phones might not be the way to go. But I have seen situations where kids use their phones in the middle of a lesson to listen to inappropriate music or send mean texts to other students. This issue should be made known to volunteers and addressed with kids. Some children’s ministries make an announcement similar to those made in movie theaters asking for kids to silence their phones before the lesson, while others collect students’ phones before the kids enter the building. What do you do? Share with us in the comment section below.
Don’t Check It-
Remember that fact I shared about 63- to 73 percent of adults checking their phones hourly? Chances are you are part of that group! If so, make sure to follow your own rules of cell phone etiquette. Silence your phone and don’t take calls or texts while with your kids, even if it means hanging a wall clock so you don’t have to check the time on your phone. The less your phone is out, the less your kids will think about their own phones.
Do Warn Parents-
66 percent of parents say kids should be at least 13 before they go online by themselves. Even so, 29 percent of 9- to 12-year-olds have a personal device that’s Wi-Fi enabled (livescience.com). Parents need to know that giving kids a smartphone is like handing them a computer. While it has many good uses, it can easily become dangerous. Websites such as Common Sense, which helps to determine the appropriateness of movies, games, and apps, and apps such as Norton Family, which helps you monitor your kids’ online activities, will give you tools to equip parents to help them safeguard their kids. ***
Cell phones are here to stay, it seems, at least in some form-my wife and I don’t even own a landline anymore! And by taking the right steps, you can help make this new technology a blessing rather than a headache for your ministry. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!