What’s In the Hand?
We might feel pretty clueless as youth workers throughout most of our time with teenagers. One thing we are not clueless about is our teenagers obsessions with their cell phones. So it wasn’t a shocker to be reading this article on how teenagers are complimenting their sex education through text messaging services.
Sex education is a thorny subject for most school systems; only 13 states specify that the medical components of the programs must be accurate. Shrinking budgets and competing academic subjects have helped push it down as a curriculum priority. In reaction, some health organizations and school districts are developing Web sites and texting services as cost-effective ways to reach adolescents in the one classroom where absenteeism is never a problem: the Internet.
This last sentence had me thinking.. Not all our teenagers show up for our gathering times. Is there ways to use the tool within their hands to create some relational & teachable moments. A few of my ideas:
- Open Office Hours via Txt / Txt a Question Time
- Daily Scripture Shares
- Daily Prayer Shares
- Interesting Church Facts
- Encourage use of some of the response services you trust
- What’s In the Church Picture Fun
Some of these are more ‘push’ type actions instead of the youth engaging first, but they might help to set up a culture that is encouraging of, and making, that text message medium a valuable part of your relationship with that teenager.
What’s in a Cell Phone Video?
With the affordability of smartphones these days you are sure to have one that takes video that can be uploaded to youtube within a year or two (I’m willing to bet money on this). Take some cues from the Khan Academy and do some teaching before youth gatherings and then allow those times in community to take on dialogue that refines the ideas and thoughts the teenagers might have. Think about how valuable this is, learn a bit of what is teachable idea before youth, then bang it around to where it becomes their own, versus, you sharing something out of the blue and them walking away with out an opportunity to process it. They then go home and go to bed, or play video games, in essence forgetting that beautifully crafted message you spent most of the week on.
Try it out, video some of or all of your message from within the lesson off your cell phone, upload it to youtube and then spread it to the youth community to check out before next gathering. Can entice them by saying there is a special code which if they can remember will allow them to get a free something when they show up at church.
This also gets some of that main message to youth that are not showing up. They were in youth in confirmation or those 7th – 9th grade years till they got their license. They know who you are and want to be around, but might not know how to do that anymore (youth and adult behavior is weird that way).
I love what Salman Khan says in the linked TED Talk video, ‘the teachers started to use the technology to bring back humanizing.’ How Cool!