General Ministry
Tony Myles

Tony Myles is a youth ministry veteran, conference speaker, author, volunteer youth worker and lead pastor of Connection Church in Medina, Ohio... and he really likes smoothies.

A teacher came up with a creative solution for students who are constantly distracted by cell phones in class.

What do you think? Would this fly in your youth group? Is it even necessary?

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  • Matthew says:

    I’m happy to say that I don’t really see this as being as big of an issue – at least compared to how it was a few years ago. For most of my students, having a cell phone is no longer such an “extra special” thing that they never put away, but it’s just a regular part of their life. So I don’t see them out at inappropriate times nearly as much as I did before.

    Also, students are encouraged to use their Bible apps to follow along if they didn’t bring a physical Bible with them.

  • patrick says:

    We have baskets with a little note that says “Cell Phone Rest Area”.
    I encourage students to place their phones in the basket while we meet because its a distraction – not just to the leader, but more so to the students. It distracts them from having to listen or be present with each other and God.

  • Dan Hefferan says:

    This is definitely a great option for teachers!

    My experiences are similar to Matthew’s. The students are still very interested in their cellphones, but not quite as obsessed as they were years ago. However, it’s still important to set the expectations that they should be paying attention when the situation calls for it.

  • denise brander says:

    That won’t work for my group,but I like the one with the basket idea,Thanx alot

  • J. Manners says:

    I’ve made it known that youth is not time to be on your cell phone. They never seemed to get it until one year at our spring retreat I took all their cell phones for the weekend and explained taught them about God calling Abraham up to the mountain to be with him and then God gave him the commandments. I explained that God wanted to get Abraham away from any distractions so he could speak to him. They then better understood. Now they all literally toss their phones onto the altar when it’s time for the teaching to start.

  • Nathan C says:

    We’ve had issues with cell phones in the past. Dealing with cell phones, like most disciplinary issues, is difficult because unlike in school, we don’t have detention, participation grades, or a principle’s office. What I have done in the past if we’ve had issues is make everyone take their cell phones out and lay them face down in the middle of the table. Then we have some sort of fun punishment for anyone who touches theirs before the end of the lesson (nothing too major, maybe they have to run around the room doing a funny dance or something like that), Other times If I see a student pull out their phone and answer a text during our lesson time I just ask them to finish the text, and let the person know that they’ll be unavailable for the next hour (or however long until we’re done). We don’t have problems with cell phones very often because at this point students realize they shouldn’t have them out during youth group.

  • Annette says:

    We used to have an issue with phones so we started the phone bowl. At the beginning of our class/get together, the youth would put their phone in the bowl. After a few weeks, the youth received the message and we didn’t need it. The kids just kept their phones put away. Now, if there is an occasional issue, one of the YOUTH will go get the bowl and start passing it around and the kids put their phones in it.

  • Joel Stetler says:

    I encountered this in my first week of full time youth ministry several years ago. The previous guy had a basket which he required students to put their phones in when they entered the youth room. In the interest of “going with the flow,” I just went along with it – the adult volunteers knew how things went anyway, so I wasn’t worried. Sure enough, I had an angry phone call the next day from a parent whose student had lost her phone, saying it had been stolen from the basket. Since then, I haven’t made their cell phones my problem. Instead, I like utilizing what will inevitably never go away – having Instagram contests, encouraging students to tweet quotes and verses from during the messages or discussions, etc. I’ve even had students pose in front of a giant “wish you were here” sign so they could post their photos on the social networks to invite friends to youth group. Yes, having phones in the room opens up an opportunity for distractions, but I try to counter that by having content that is more engaging that a Facebook feed. I don’t doubt there are groups where the distractions might need to be eliminated altogether, but for my particular group and the culture here, the phones aren’t a problem at all.

  • Bill says:

    I collect them and give them back for brief periods at lock ins etc….

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