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Mobile Technology Impacting The Family

Orange and XP3Students are very interested in figuring out the way technology is changing the family landscape and giving parents (with teenagers) practical advice of how to deal with it.  I think youth workers need to speak to what aspects are greatly impacting all families (both in and out of the church).

At my previous church, we had 5th graders on the new 4G iphone (with unlimited minutes, texting, and internet usage) communicating with their parents trying to coordinate their rides home from church.  I also had high school females sending and receiving 5,000 texts a month and mad at their parents because they had to pay the overcharges.  In contrast, I had students who were only allowed to use mobile phones to talk to their parents.  Then again, is technology the only problem that is impacting the family?

I think it is safe to say: our culture is moving into the digital age which is changing teenagers and parents. But how does a youth worker equip both the teenagers and parents on how to deal with this digital domination?

Questions For Student Pastors or Teen Social Workers:


–  What is the effect of technology on the family?

–  What other aspects (besides technology) are impacting the 21st American family?

–  What are some of the major issues unchurched families are encountering?

–  Should a student pastor/social worker use mobile technology to communicate with parents?  How does a student pastor/social worker use mobile technology to communicate with parents?

–  From a youth pastor/teen social worker perspective, how have you observed the families in your church/organization phone usage? What effect does parents phone usage have on their teens?  What effect does teen phone usage have on parents?

–  Do parents in your church/organization monitor their teen’s mobile technology usage?  Why or why not?

–  Is technology usage regionally or socioeconomically driven?  Does income level change what impacts the family? Basically do all families struggle with the same things?

–  What percentage of family communication happens online?  How much of your family rhythm is centered around technology?

–  What is the most effective time families spend together that is not centered around technology?

–  As you look to the future, do you believe that technology will deepen family relationships or diminish family relationships?  Why?


**  Any feedback would be extremely helpful!  Also if you have any additional insight regarding:  What Is Impacting The Family? Please provide them in the comment section or email me directly.

About Jeremy Zach

Orange XP3 Specialist | Youth Worker | MDIV | Hot Sauce Addict | Dr. Dre Beats Lover

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  1. Technology is now an emotional investment. I have seen parents view a cell phone as their student(s) “space.” The space is king of like their own room. They don’t know how to approach a student because they don’t want to be pushy but they also know the dangers of technology land and never being checked on. It would be easy to say “Give me the phone because I pay the bill.” In my opinion, With the rise of narcissim on Facebook and all the attention grabbing, I’ve seen more students become more emotionally attached to a comment or a pic on facebook than to their family or friends. Yes, I am a fan of Facebook. Facebook, I think, reveals, what is already true.

  2. Technology is definitely growing among everyone (kids/teens included). With some cell phone carriers offering free service for kids, it is even easier for kids to get their hands on tech devices. I know that many families have started communicating more because of tech (i.e. texting, checking in on trips), but in the same vein, it can also create walls (i.e. kids and parents always on their phones/computers when they are at home).

    I think one of the benefits is that it is easier to keep in contact with our students. Before, I’d have to wait for them to get a phone/email message, but now, I just text them and they almost instantly respond. And our ministry needs to embrace that type of technology in order to reach more students/families. For instance, we use Facebook, Twitter, & a website to keep families in tune with what is going on. Even though they are very busy through the week, we want them to feel like contact/info is just a few seconds away.

    We have rules during many of our events about cell phone & iPod usage. For instance, they can’t use them during youth group or during retreat-type trips. They can bring them on fun friend-events, but they are never allowed to isolate themselves from the group with their phone. We try to help our students understand that interacting with the people around them is almost always more important. But at the same time, we make sure parents know the leaders’ cell numbers just in case there is an emergency.

    I think that parents do need to monitor their kids’/teens’ usage, though. For us, I think we are about 50/50, as half of our parents do monitor while the others have no clue what their kids are doing online.

  3. technology is never going away and it is only going to be more and more consuming. a new thought i have been wrestling with is attempting to use technology and its place to our advantages and our programs to accentuate this message. here is some more thoughts i have have about this:


    jeremy, thanks for your insights and encouragement.

  4. Technology is one of those things that we are gonna have to live with. The question is, how are we going to redeem technology rather than refuse it. good conversation, Jeremy.

  5. Youth working in South Korea…Technology has become the only medium for comunication that the students know. They have all grown up in the cell phone age. It is sad that facebook and cell phones have replaced real talking. I have seen too many students hanging out and each of them have their phone out and their iPods in. Rediculous if you ask me, but it is the landscape of our ministry. Parents dont know how to handle it. I think it needs to be thought of as both a social problem and a useful tool. Problem because this Student can not really tell you what a true relationship is, and useful because they are accessable all the time.

  6. Great thought producing post Jeremy. Technology is only going to continue to evolve and grow and more and more students are going to get on it. I know at the middle school level most parents give their children (especially their daughters) phones. I see technology effecting my family in particular because we are always connected to the tech. That means at any time my wife or I (and now even my daughters through their iPod touches, can receive a text, email or phone call. That is a great thing in times of need but when you are trying to have a family dinner or gathering where the focus is on us, as a family, it is hard at times because the distracts are always there.

    I believe that unless we find productive ways to limit technology usage, I think it is only going to make families more distant. Sure we will always be in touch and find ways to communicate, but it will become more electronically driven and not personal, face to face, human touch way that I believe can make families stronger. I hope I am wrong and I hope we can find ways to use technology to make families stronger.

  7. I definitely think it’s a double-edged sword: the social web (and handheld devices) can help connect people, but can also isolate your closest relationships. I think that it comes down to discipline and values.

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