"Can You Not Watch With Me One Hour?"

It happened again. In the middle of the Consecration, someone’s cell phone started to ring. I cannot sit in judgment, because it has happened to me. (I now keep my phone in the car during Mass.) It seems our lives have been so taken over by technology that we have forgotten how to be still and know God.

As my husband and I walk into Mass we are saying to our teens, “No more texting. It is Mass time.” It seems every other parent is either saying the same thing or nodding in agreement. When did we become so consumed with being technically connected to each other without a break? I have caught my kids waking up at night to text or talk on their cell phones. The school has a no cell phone policy that almost none of the students follow. My own kids text me from school, and heaven help me, sometimes I text back.

We are losing the ability to stop and recharge ourselves. To disconnect from the world and rest. I am concerned that my kids are subconsciously plugged in at all times.

We do have some control over this current trend.

1. Set a good example. My husband and I generally don’t answer the phone at dinner time at our house. Dinner together is sacred for us. We talk, pray, catch up on the day, and reconnect as a family. We do not allow cell phone use during this family time.

2. Leave the cell phone in the car during Mass. I understand that they want to be ‘in touch’ right before and after Mass. However, it is a one minute walk in and out of Mass and leaving the cell phones in the car removes the temptation of using it during this time. Christ said, “So you could not keep watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test.” Matt. 26: 40, 41

These words can still be applied to us today. There is much strife in the world, many difficulties ahead and worshiping Christ for an hour, praying that we may not undergo the test should be the highest of desires and priorities for us. Making our students aware of this (request by Christ) is our job.

3. Tell your kids not to sleep with their cell phones. If necessary, take them away till morning. I will be honest, we do not do this with our oldest daughter. She is almost 18 and needs to learn to self-regulate her behavior at this age. We do enforce an 11 pm phone curfew for our other children though. As youth ministers, it perfectly acceptable to require that cell phone use be limited in class. Again, we have to set the tone (no, not ring-tone) for our students.

4. Encourage verbal communication. I have seen my children text someone in the same room! This sets up a situation where we are not looking at each other’s body language, not listening to inflections in each other’s voices and not drawing inferences from facial expressions. In a sense, we are dehumanizing each other. Encouraging communication, including conflict resolution and self expression in our youth groups, may counter some of the negative effects of this technological age.

5. Teach tech savvy and safety. Bring in speakers on internet and cell phone safety. Talking about the dangers of technology may help protect our children’s physical, mental and spiritual health. Remind them that there is no such thing as a private email, text, social network, etc. God bless.