Catechists and teachers often have just a few precious minutes to share the week’s lesson. We need strategies to “get down to business” quickly. To that end, catechists must set policies about phones in the classroom—either to silence them, put them facedown, set them in a basket by the door, or leave them at home. A steady stream of pings, dings, and under-the-table checking of phones doesn’t contribute to a sacred space for learning. But we are catechizing a phone generation. How can we welcome the technology the children carry every day and encourage them to use it to draw closer to God?
Establish a covenant. As you set your class rules with your children, bring phones into the conversation. Catechists, of course, have the last word on how, where, and if phones can be used or are even present. Talking about phones can open a discussion on respect and values. Ask: Why is it important that we have phone-free times? What’s good about talking to others in person? Try to keep the conversation from becoming too preachy or adversarial. You may even want to share this news video in which Pope Francis takes adults to task for snapping photos during Mass. Ask the students: Why do you think the Pope speaks out about technology?
Encourage prayer and meditation. Pope Francis also lauds the great things technology offers, but encourages its responsible use. He recently suggested that Catholics carry pocket Bibles instead of smartphones. But what if you could do both? Look around the pews before Mass. Have you silently judged people looking at their phones? Look again. A popular Bible app had more than 300 million installs at the beginning of 2018. Other popular apps include Laudete and the Pope App. Students can set alarms to remind them to spend time with the daily readings or they can subscribe to receive daily prayer texts.
What would Jesus tweet? Blogger Kevin Dowd shares a look at how we might share the Good News of Jesus Christ through various social media, including Facebook and Twitter. This could be a fun exercise for your students. After you read the Sunday Gospel together, arrange the students in pairs or have them work individually. Then offer the following assignments: create a Gospel-related Instagram or Facebook post, tweet the main message of the Gospel, or create an inspirational meme. After reviewing the posts, allow the students to send them. Ask them what kind of reaction they receive. Did they get “likes”? What does that mean to them?
Embrace tech. How are you bringing other forms of technology—video, music, and the like—into your classroom? In “Embracing Social Media,” Catechist contributor Eric Groth shares ways to reach students through “digital catechesis.” Do you have tech tips for other catechists? Be sure to leave a comment below.
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