Last year I commented in a blog about our annual “tick-a-teen off” event at the start of last year’s mission trip. (The event is the explanation for our “no phone zone” commitment during youth trips. They read it on the event flyer but are baffled when we actually follow through. Go figure.)
During the last ten years, teenagers have given me more than a few reasons why taking cell phones away on trips is a good idea. But this year, while speaking at a camp in Pennsylvania, I saw a few good reasons for students to have their phones too. At the camp students were encouraged to have cell accountability and practiced sending verses to each other as well as words of faith and encouragement. From what I hear, this continues long after camp ends. Hmmmm, doesn’t sound like a bad idea.
While on our mission trip last week, I used my phone to upload pictures onto facebook. Instead of tagging the teenager, I tagged their parents in the photo. I received a ton of positive feedback from parents who got to experience the trip from a distance–peace of mind that their kiddo was doing great–and a feeling of shared community even though they weren’t with us. I also found out that some parents had an easier time talking to their teenager when they returned because they had some specific questions and comments to share.
At the same time, I enjoyed yet another week long mission trip without the interruptions of twitter, myspace, facebook, DRAMA, pranks, and more D-R-A-M-A.
The following Wednesday night I was hanging out with some students in the foyer. Standing in a circle, everyone including me, had a cell phone in their hand. Three of the five were texting, tweeting, and tagging in another world. I thought, “I wish no one had cell phones on Wednesday night.” The next immediate thought was, “they would kill me!”.
But would they?
What if we made it en vogue to unplug at youth group? I’m entertaining the idea. If you don’t see me around this fall, it’s probably because I’m in hiding from the rebel insurgency.
* Das Handy is the Denglisch word some German’s use for cell phone. Das Handy” comes from “handgehaltenes Telefon” or “hand-held telephone.” Just in case you were wondering.