How will texting change preteen ministry?

October 16, 2012 — 5 Comments

preteen text

Next time you’re sitting in a public place, count the number of people who are using their phones to text. I bet you lose count!

Texting is quickly becoming the #1 form of communication. Good or bad (that’s a topic for another day), it is the truth. This is especially true among preteens. In early 2008, Pew Research Center found that 51% of 12-year olds had cell phones. I can only imagine that this number has increased in the last 4 years.

According to research cited by Common Sense Media, texting is the #2 use for all cell phones behind checking the time! The research also shows that preteens (age 9 to 12) send and average of 1,146 texts per month. That’s more than 37 texts per day!

Texting is changing the way preteens communicate with one another. Should it change the way we communicate with preteens?

Here’s the question that I’ve been mulling over for the last few weeks:

Can text messaging be used constructively in preteen ministry?

I’m interested in hearing from those that have used text messaging in student ministry and/or preteen ministry. I have some concerns about using text messages with 9 to 12 year olds, but I can see value in being able to communicate things like weekly devotions, small group questions, updates about service projects or events, etc.

What do you think? Is text messaging beneficial to preteen ministry or is it a slippery slope that should be avoided?

5 responses to How will texting change preteen ministry?

  1. As a parent, and a parent of a kid withOUT a cell phone at this point, I would be in favor of not using texting. I feel like it would only compound the desire of wanting a phone if you don’t have one (whether your parent(s) can’t afford it or have decided not to get one at this stage) and the feeling if being “left out,” if you will, if you don’t have a phone. Although not quite as extreme, it would feel to me kind of like the stories I hear of teachers asking 6th graders to pull out their phones and be the first one to text in the answer. That puts a lot of pressure on a kid without a phone.

    I would rather see other forms of social media used at this age – Instagram is extremely popular with this age. I know it has limitations if you are trying to send out links or tons of information, but a lot of kids have accounts and you don’t have to have a phone.

    That’s just my thought! Thanks for all you do Matt!

    • Thanks so much for the perspective of a parent. You nailed the exact concern that I have with this subject. If 51% of preteens have cell phones, then 49% do not and most likely for good reasons! It’s important that the Church support the family and the decisions they make in parenting their preteens.

      I love the idea of using the other avenues, like instagram. There are plenty of creative ways to communicate and interact without cell phones.

      Thanks again for sharing!

  2. Our Student ministry (grades 6-12) uses texting sometimes to communicate with students. In my area of oversight (preteens, grades 4 & 5), I do not think it’s appropriate and I have cautioned my leaders to be careful and viligent in this area. I believe that with young preteens, electronic communication should be primarily between leaders and parents.

    • Great advice, Kathie! I agree that it is much more useful and safe to use this form with parents and leaders.

      By the way, I’m still working on our peer group and a meeting time. Hope to get together in the next few weeks to chat and pray for one another. I’ll email instructions on how to join the conversation via phone or video chat.

  3. We discourage texting between children and those in the Preteen ministry. There is no way to be sure to protect both parties. Our church website is in the process of creating a Facebook-like website where the children, monitored by the church and the preteen ministry team, can post to each other, post pictures, post videos. There are NO private posts available.The website is completely private. Each parent shares the password with the children so they can monitor their children privately. We also use it to communicate with the children and challenge them during the week.

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