First off let me start by saying, these thoughts represent my thoughts and I am in no way saying this is the only way to do this.
A few weeks ago on a youth ministry application I used to use a heated debate broke out over cell phone policy. There were quite a few youth ministers who felt that there way was the only way. So I thought I would lay out my cell phone policy to spark thoughts. I'm sure I will get a LOT of push back on this.
My policy is, who cares! If my students pull out a cell phone in my youth worship I'm usually so caught up in my message I never even notice anyway. Plus with the advent of the You Version Bible, they may be looking at their Bible.
In main worship service you can't imagine the times I've been asked to put my iPad away, even though I'm following along in my Bible app. Also if U had a dime for every time someone told me one of "my youth" had their cell phone out during service. I politely inform that person neither of my daughters own a cell phone as the oldest is 6, but if they are referring to a youth group student, they are "our youth" not "mine". Plus when I ask the adults that sat near them, they usually said they didn't notice.
I can say in the close to 5 years I've been doing this, that the seven times I remember a cell phone ringing and interrupting the pastor mid sermon each time the person was over the age of 60! I don't see anyone going in to the senior adult class and tell them to turn their cell phones off.
So if we treat the adults like they know better than to do that, I treat my students like they should know better! It's not a battle worth having. I would rather battle with a student over how reading their Bible is important or figuring out why they seem to be disconnected. Those are battles worth fighting. Cell phones are trivial.
Now my ministry has an advantage, the town we live in doesn't even have 3G service so a lot of the Facebooking etc in worship is cut out due to no internet connection. But even if we had it, so what. I would actually love to have free wifi in our meeting area so that we could use the events option on You Version to distribute our notes.
So you have to ask your self, is it a fight worth having in your ministry? I will make a guarantee that the second you confiscate a phone from a student you will have an upset parent on your hands. I ask again is it worth it? Then the student finds out the youth minister down the road allows cell phones, now their gone. Is it worth it? Or now you have the cell phone so the student wads up his bulletin and throws it across the room, and strikes up a loud conversation with another student. Still causing a distraction. Is it worth it?
Or would this be better, instruct your volunteers to not make a big deal out of it, but let you know who was playing on their cell phone. After service you call the student and ask "Hey noticed you were on your cell phone quite a bit yesterday during youth worship. Everything ok? Is there something you want to talk about that was causing you to be distracted?" Then they tell you about a bad week because of (fill in the blank).
So think about it for awhile. In the mean time get a laugh at this!
Just Keep Swimming!