Cell Phones in Sunday School
Recently I was looking for a picture of a child reading on the stock photo site that I use. I got a good amount of photos to choose from. In the first row of options was a picture of a child “reading” from their phone.
Kids today have cell phones. Cell phones can be distracting, so it can be tempting for teachers to prohibit the use of cell phones in the classroom. However, people sometimes have their Bible as an app on their cell phone. So simply prohibiting their use is not the answer.
A better response would be to limit the distraction, but teach good Bible skills for cell phone users.
Limiting the Distraction
1. Create rules.
In order to limit the distraction that cell phones can be, you need to create some rules for using them in the classroom. It will be up to you and your students to create specific rules for your situations.
Here are some parameters that should be covered in the rules:
- If a student has a cell phone, but not a Bible app, then the phone needs to be turned off and put away. Exceptions to the rule (ie. a child is expecting a call from their parents) should be dealt with by the teacher on a case by case basis.
- If a student has a cell phone with a Bible app, they may use it under these conditions:
- the phone needs to be put on silent
- when not using the Bible app, the phone needs to be face down on the table or under their chair.
- There will be a consequence for breaking the rules. For example, “If your phone becomes a distraction it will be taken away until the end of class.”
2. Teachers should model proper cell phone use.
Teachers can become distracted by their cell phones as well. Make a point of leading by example.
- Put your phone on silent.
- Use only the Bible app (if you don’t have one, put your phone away.)
- If you do have a Bible app, teach your students Bible skills for Bible apps.
- Don’t be distracted by your phone as students are arriving or as they are leaving. Show them you care about them by being prepared and focused as they arrive.
Teach Bible Skills for Cell Phone Users
Students may not realize that using a Bible app still requires Bible skills. Continue to teach Bible skills for hard copy versions of the Bible. These skills are useful regardless of what type of Bible you use. Talk with your students about using a Bible app for Bible study.
Here are some topics for discussion:
1. The advantages and disadvantages of using a Bible app.
Some advantages include easier searching, the selection of versions available, the ability to compare versions. Some disadvantages include limited text on screen (esp. certain devices), loss of context, some difficulty in comparing texts (esp. if they are from different books of the Bible.)
2. Can you use both a Bible app and a hardcopy Bible?
You can use both. If you are looking at two different passages of Scripture you can look up one on your phone and one in your Bible. You can use a different version on your Bible app then the hardcopy Bible available as you study a passage. You can choose to use just the Bible app on your phone or just a hardcopy Bible or both.
3. How to Choose a Bible app
There are a lot of options when choosing a Bible app. This is an important discussion to have with your students.
When choosing an app:
- Ask for help from your parents or your teacher.
- Be aware that some apps are free and some cost money.
- Some apps are not Bibles, but are devotionals, daily Bible reading plans, quotes, or trivia.
- If you already have a Bible app, your teacher can review it with you.
- Some apps have many versions; some apps are a single version. If it is a single version, make sure it’s a version you are comfortable reading.
- Different religions also have a bible. Watch for this when choosing an app.
- Teachers, find some Bible apps that you can recommend to your students (if you don’t know any, find someone in your church who can help)
- Don’t get distracted with the bells and whistles. Choose a Bible app for its content.
4. How to Use a Bible app
Bible skills are Bible skills. They are transferable from hard copy to apps. Reinforce these skills with your students. Also talk about using the bonus features of these apps, for example making use of reading plans, etc.
5. How to Choose What Version of the Bible to Read in Your Bible app
This is an important discussion that includes educating your students and teaching discernment.
- Translations versus paraphrases
- Some versions available could be Catholic bibles, Jewish bibles, Morman bibles, etc.
- Some versions include the Apocrypha
- Some versions are more difficult to read.
Have some recommendations for your students of versions that your church uses or versions that are easier for students to read.
Cell phones are a reality in our Sunday Schools. Whether kids use a Bible or a Bible app, let’s continue to encourage Bible reading, Bible studying, and Bible skills! Our goal is the same–making disciples!