5 Do’s and Don’ts of Cell Phones in Your Ministry

3

Fixed1I 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!  

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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.

***

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

***

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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!

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About Author

David Jennings

David has served kids around the world for the majority of his life. From Texas to Romania, he has followed where God has led him. Most recently, he served for six years as a children's director in the great state of Alabama before moving to Colorado to work for Group as an associate editor.

3 Comments

  1. Helmut Egesa Wagabi on

    Children should be taught carefully how to use cellphones so as not to waste credit. Restrict them to calling and texting certain numbers only.

  2. We had two kids with iPad minis for the first time this Sunday. I'm always fighting the crusade to let me use my cell phone and iPad in big church, because it's my Bible. Now I have to think about what that means for my elementary kids too.

    Crazy world we live in.

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