Jamie Gardner

There was an article last week released by the Associated Press regarding approximately 50 students in Union County (Blairsville) that were caught at their high school sharing naked photos of themselves with classmates, on their cell phones or through texting and/or social media. The superintendent of the school system stated that the students ranged in age from 14 to 18. The adult-aged kids involved could be prosecuted for child pornography, a felony in the state of Georgia.

Thus far the school system has not pushed for prosecution, but otherwise has suspended the students temporarily or sent them to alternative school.

I’m not going to score any points with the kiddos with what I’m about to say. Parents, grandparents, guardians, or whatever the situation may be, we need to remain vigilant checking the technology devices our children are using. My boys get mad with me all the time, but Amy and I check their iPhones often and unannounced just to make sure they are not abusing the technology, or using it to get into some type of trouble.

This past weekend, Amy and I had the privilege of attending a youth retreat with our two sons, Cole and Jacob, and other young people from the church we are attending. Shortly after the youth arrived at the large cabin they would call home for the weekend, the youth pastor held up a box that was labeled “cell jail”. He said that the young people would be required to place their cell phones in the box for the weekend. He then told the youth they had 10 minutes to text their parents and let them know that if they needed to get in touch with them, for the remainder of the weekend, to call his cell phone. The pastor also told the students that he would give them a few minutes each morning to check their messages and social media, so they were not completely shut off from the outside world, as they know it. Of course his announcements were met with a few grumblings from the young people, but they all gave up their devices.

As the weekend progressed, I watched the students closely to see how they would respond to not having their devices. What did I learn? They didn’t need them. In fact, the kids listened attentively to the guest speaker and participated more in the services as a result. They played games inside and outside with each other, and they also had more face-to-face conversations. They just acted like kids having a good time. More importantly, I believe they learned more about God over the weekend and now have a closer connection to Him.

It encouraged Amy and I so much that we even left our cell phones in the vehicle. To be honest, it was refreshing to not have the distraction. I believe I am going to be putting my phone in cell jail more often. 

Technology can be a great tool when used for the right purposes. Again, let’s keep an eye on how our children are using their devices and make sure they are using them appropriately. There is a lot of evil in this world today, and in ways that evil is using these devices to influence our children. Our job is to protect them. You might even want to consider cell jail as deterrent.