Do you find your students (or leaders for that matter) staring at their devices during meals?
Meals are an incredible time for connection in student ministry, special events, or around the family dinner table. Meals provide more than nourishment and fuel. They create community as people gather and share. But those opportunities are wasted when people are staring at their screens.
We’ve been discussing this within the Harvest Team. It started on a van ride travelling between events when our conversation turned to the number of people looking at their phones during meals at summer camps.
These days, phone usage isn’t cut and dried. A few years back, all phones went into a basket before student ministry events and were picked up on the way out. Now that’s a dying practice as we ask students to pull out their phones to read their Bibles, engage in texting information, or search for an app that will help them grow in Christ. At the same time, we want them to stay engaged and not be scrolling mindlessly.
One place where it’s great to stay disengaged from media and remain engaged with others is during meals at camps, conferences, and events. It’s sad to see people looking at their phones while others at the table are happily laughing and talking. It’s similar to seeing a couple at a restaurant, both looking down at their devices when they have a short window of time to talk with each other.
During our quick conversation about students and adults looking at their phones during meals, we created three mantras that can help set boundaries. (Credit goes to Harvest Team Member Marissa Story)
- No Phones With Food
- No Devices During Dinner
- No Mobile During Meals
We thought the alliteration was great. All three mean the same thing, so choose one or use all three to make a big emphasis.
Build a culture of no phones during meals and other important times. Use these mantras for your student ministry times, special retreats or conferences, or at home.
There’s no reason to pull your phone out during meals. Be available and open to people. Sit at the table instead of watching TV. If you don’t enjoy talking, determine to be an audience. Ask one or two good questions and enjoy listening. Avoid the terrible habit of looking at your phone when you have an opportunity to engage in community.
So, No Phones With Food, No Devices During Dinner, No Mobile During Meals.
NOTE: We created the image below for you to print and hang somewhere to remind everyone.