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
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
- 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
- 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!