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The Smartphone—Today's Conversation Killer
by Jonathan McKee

“Studies of conversation both in the laboratory and in natural settings show that when two people are talking, the mere presence of a phone on a table between them or in the periphery of their vision changes both what they talk about and the degree of connection they feel.”
–Sherry Turkle, Stop Googling. Let’s Talk, New York Times, 9/26/15

The evidence is clear. Face-to-face conversations are becoming much more difficult for young people today. You probably don’t need to read a study to come to that conclusion. If you are a parent or have any contact with teenagers day to day, then you probably have noticed these symptoms:

  • Pulling out a phone and looking at it in the middle of a face-to-face conversation
  • Lack of understanding for (or even recognition of) what others around them are feeling and experiencing
  • Screen time distracting them from important tasks
  • A decrease in face-to-face social time, as screen time increases

In short, as today’s “Smartphone Generation” becomes more tech-dependent, they are becoming increasingly socially retarded (which I mean in the original Oxford Dictionary definition of the word).

We’re seeing this trend revealing itself in several different ways:

JONATHAN'S BLOG: The Most Vital Skill in Youth Ministry
“What is the most important skill I need to teach my volunteers?”

That’s what my friend Brandon asked me when he was planning his fall training with all of his leaders.

What would you answer?

Without hesitation I answered him, citing a ministry skill that trumps all others:

“Connecting with young people.”

“Go back to your Bible.” I always tell youth workers at my training workshops. “What did Jesus model? Did he sit there in the synagogue seven days a week waiting for people to stop by and attend his program, or did he go out and interact with people?”

We don’t need chaperons who stand around the perimeter in the back of the room (YS just posted an article I wrote on that subject). We need caring adults who want to connect with young people, not just at youth group, but throughout the week.

This weekend I teach two workshops at the National Youth Workers Convention, and in each of them I’ll be providing leaders with tools to connect with young people and engage them in meaningful conversation. (If you’re there this weekend, come to my workshops on Saturday.)

If you’re going to miss the workshops, here’s some links to some of the material I’ll be covering:

img class="alignright size-full wp-image-9310" src="" alt="Connect-SMALL" width="100" height="127" />Connect- my book about connecting with today’s young people in a world of isolation

5 Steps to Connect with Today's Teens- Here’s a free 7 Minute YouTube video where I give youth workers five simple steps to connect with teens

Connecting with the Six Types of Kids- Here’s a another free training tool video about how to connect with the six types of kids we encounter in our ministry

Leading Small Groups… without losing your mind!- Here’s a quick article giving you the basics for engaging kids in small group discussion

Emojis Becoming Preferred Communication Tool
Posted on October 10/8/2015, 2015 at 06:57 AM
Being 13 CNN Investigation inside the world of teens- VIDEO LINK
Posted on October 10/8/2015, 2015 at 06:52 AM
ABC Family Changes Name to Attract Intended Audience
Posted on October 10/8/2015, 2015 at 06:50 AM
Video games a key element in friendship for many boys
Posted on October 10/6/2015, 2015 at 08:19 AM
5 Things Teenagers Secretly Want You to Know But Won't Tell You
Posted on October 10/6/2015, 2015 at 07:47 AM
Are Emojis Ruining Us?
Posted on October 10/5/2015, 2015 at 09:18 AM
Season 3, Episode 9, The Suicide King
Almost a month until the Walking Dead Season Premiere. In the meantime, we’re going back and providing back-discussions for Season 3. Here’s the newest: Blood is thicker than water… so they say. That is the tension in this episode. Family,

  • More Than Just The Talk
  • Get Your Teenagers Talking
  • Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent
  • Should I Smash My Kids Phone
  • Zombie Survival Guide
Playing for the Giant Check
Teenagers and Fantasy Football    
David R. Smith and Jonathan McKee

“At Draft Kings we play for Glory, for bragging rights, for fantasy football supremacy. But we also play for this: the giant check!” (Draft Kings)

If you watch football, you’ve seen the commercials. Guys watching football, cheering, checking their phones… and then winning big money.

Who wouldn’t want that? So is this just pure football fun… or a foot...

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