Apart from giving them the Gospel, the single best thing we can do for our kids’ college, career, and marriage prospects is to train them to be self-disciplined in their cell phone use. Improving their cell phone habits will:

1. Raise their grades: Study time and quality will dramatically improve if they are not being continually interrupted by text messages and Facebook updates.

2. Increase their knowledge: As cell phone use increases, book reading plunges. Thankfully, the opposite is also true.

3. Strengthen their reasoning: Teachers everywhere are alarmed at students’ increasing inability to concentrate and follow the logic of a sustained argument, with most tracing the damage to cell phone distraction and abbreviated communication.

4. Expand their worldview: Although it’s called the World Wide Web, most kids’ worldview shrinks when national and international news are deluged and drowned in a tsunami of local and parochial trivia served up via the social media fire hose.

5. Improve their health: It’s not only that late-night use of screen technology delays and disturbs sleep, but a staggering number of kids check their Facebook status throughout the night as well. Nothing is more important to long-term health than long and deep sleep.

6. Strengthen their relationships: Families who take radical steps to reduce cell phone access and use in the home testify to the huge improvement in sibling and parental relationships.

7. Enhance their communication skills: Employers are desperate for people who can speak a reasonable number of complete and coherent sentences with clarity and confidence, and who can relate to people face to face with courtesy and care. That’s not learned with our faces in a phone.

8. Clarify their vision: When kids are constantly distracted by the latest status update, text message, or Tumblr GIF, they can’t see beyond the horizon of the present to seek and find a long-term purpose for their lives (great article on that here).

9. Ground their self-image: The more time spent in the virtual world, the more unreal our self-image becomes. Our kids need to be grounded in real flesh & blood relationships in the real world if they are not to get an over-inflated sense of who they are and what they’ve accomplished.

10. Deepen their spirituality: Horizontal communication pushes out vertical communication. When kids start the day with their phone rather than their Bible in their hands, the day has already gone wrong.

If we love our children, we must take radical action now. Look at the benefits. Re-write the list in the negative and ask, “Do I want that for my kids?”

What can we do? Confiscation is very appealing, but usually a bit extreme. We can use parental controls and accountability software. We can forbid phones in bedrooms, at study desks, and at meal times. I now insist on all phones (including my own) be kept in one central place when in the house and I limit the number of times they can be checked in an evening. We’re also starting a phone fast on Sundays. And let there be consequences for misuse or overuse, yes, even confiscation at times.

But perhaps the best thing we can do is to talk to our kids about these ten positive reasons for making this wonderful technology a servant rather than a master. It might be the best career move they make. If they master their cell-phone they will stand out in their generation in so many positive ways.

  • http://www.housewifetheologian.com Aimee Byrd

    Such an important and difficult topic. We are struggling with this one in our house. Some of the boundaries include no phones in the bedrooms (or TV’s for that matter), at dinner, after a certain hour, and sometimes when they are with friends. It can be fun to take pics w/friends and play w/their “toy” together, but sometimes get togethers turn into a bunch of kids staring into a small screen. I find that our boundaries have moved both closer together and further apart, depending on the situation. I want them to begin to exercise discernment (and me too!).

    Which makes me want to ask what you think about people who download the Bible on their cell phone. It is so strange for me to see that in church. And of course, even on silence, the interruptions are still there.

  • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

    Aimee,

    I have the Bible on my phone for quick reference if I need it out and about. But I’d never want to make the phone my Bible. It’s not just the potential for distracting notifications, it’s the temptation struggle as to whether to check a message, tweet a quote from a sermon, etc. It changes the whole dynamic of me as a sinner needing grace from my Savior.

  • Johanna Arnoldussen

    Good ideas and points for adults too!

  • Sonny

    Number 11. Teach your kids that cell phone frequencies don’t just cause cancer, but prevents their bodies from producing melatonin which is extremely important for their immune system.
    “Resonance – beings of frequency” is a scientific documentary detailing just that http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vb9R0x_0NQ
    Even though the authors have an evolutionary world view, the science still applies. If you are also teaching critical thinking, your kids can critique the authors worldview presuppositions and any misapplication or misdiagnosis the authors may have stated. Make every moment a teaching moment.

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  • LeeAnn Cheeley

    I use my Bible on my cell phone in church because I can read it so much better than the printed page. I can’t read the printed version because our sanctuary is not well-lit enough for my slightly far-sighted eyes! I also don’t get text messages & such on Sunday a.m.s so being interrupted there is not a problem. The Bible on my phone is also great for when I travel & just when I have a few spare minutes when I am out & about with nothing to do– I can read my Bible.

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  • http://www.kidsneedphones.com William Villagran

    I think it is ok for kids to get cellphones. It all really depends on the age of the child and the parent. Some parents love to know where their children are at, at all times. It also has to do with finding an affordable plan for your kids because you don’t want to pay 100 bucks a month on a child’s cellphone bill every month.

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