Have you seen the video above?
I watched this video this past week and it got me thinking, Is there a problem today with how we use digital devices?
Last Christmas I ran an all nighter youth event. This is the dreaded youth event for most pastors, but I do one once a year and it’s always the last day of school. It’s a whole night of students in the busses to the hot pools, we rent the movie theatre to watch the newest movie (which was the last hobbit), and then off to the gym or church to play more games before becoming so tired, we all wish we weren’t there. This past year something really strange happened. It’s the first time it has ever happened to me. During the movie, which was from 11:30pm-3:30am, students started going to the lobby of the movie theatre like zombies looking for a corpse to devour.
I ran out to make sure these students weren’t taking off. All they were looking for was a plugin. Not just a few. Enough that we really should have brought a powerbar or two! Can’t they go without their phone for a few hours? Do they really need to plug that phone in during one of the best movies of the year? Don’t they care if Bilbo will live?
There is a problem today and it’s how we are letting our kids use devices. I don’t think there is anyone else to blame but us. In the video above, it actually grieves parents to see their kids this way. Why can’t they do something about it? They can.
Here are a few thoughts about how we need to put boundaries on the devices we use, or else they will use us.
Students need to take a digital sabbath.
Actually, so do you! When was the last time you were without your phone? Each week you deserve a day without that device. Trust me, no one will notice. A month ago I went on holidays for 10 days and I took my phone. Once my phone was dead (drained of batter), I left it that way until I returned home.
The students you serve need time without their device, and I think you might need to model that behaviour. You can lead the way. You can help parents do the same thing.
Each device needs a home.
When I counsel students who have been looking at pornography on their phones, I am always amazed at how parents are letting their kids use their devices everywhere. One creative thing I have heard and I want to adopt this for my kids when they have a digital device, is to buy a nice docking station and put in somewhere in the open. You could put this docking device in the kitchen, or living room. The house rule is that the device lives where the docking station is. It doesn’t go into rooms over night, or plug into another charger.
This just brings all the devices to one central spot. I don’t think my kids, or the students I lead need access to their phones all the time. It’s actually good to keep it somewhere else.
We need to help students experience life without devices.
What happens when that phone breaks? Because it’s going to. We are going to see more and more withdrawals from phones.
I encourage moments in my youth ministry where students should leave their phone at home. These trips are weekend retreats, and missions trips. Do I ban phones? No. I want to help students understand that they don’t have to miss moments, or feel like everything has to be put on instagram.
In these moments, I have to lead by example. I can call a student out on their need for a digital device, and yet be addicted to it myself. There are natural moments, moments in nature, moments experiencing something powerful and moving where phone don’t need to be apart of. You can help change the culture with the students that you work with. Together we can surface the idols that are current today, and put Christ there.