Dear Young People,

Will you always long for everything new in the market? Many of the gadgets are expensive and marketed very well on Television. In India, we also have many hoardings on the road that advertise all kinds of ‘wonderful’ things. These ads often make monkeys out of a lot of people who feel compelled to imitate the models in the ads and buy whatever products are being advertised. Do you remember the story of the Silly Monkeys and how the monkeys imitated everything that the kullaakaaran did and were tricked by him? Try to rise above pressure from advertisements and from peers to buy expensive things. Don’t let them make a monkey out of you.

In this issue, we first look at issues related to cell phones.

After that, we also look at some general matters to do with using telephones. While including some important rules about using phones, this discussion also touches on the Christian topic of submission to authority.

Cell Phones

What is required of a cell phone? A cell phone is a small phone that uses wireless technology. You hold it against your ear to hear the other person, and speak into it to communicate with the other person. Speech between both parties should be clear. Being able to send text messages is another useful feature that has given us a more economical option for communicating. This is pretty much all that is required of a cell phone.

But what do young people want to do with cell phones? Thankfully, they do want to use it to speak with others and use the texting feature. But they also want to take pictures with it, surf the Internet and play video games with it. A few unhappy young people spend time bullying other young people by sending them nasty text messages.

Some parents buy cell phones for their children so that they can know where their child is any point of time. In this case, the cell phone is a necessity. But in most cases, the cell phone is a status symbol that young people use to show off. The sleeker and smaller the phone, the higher the status. If it has features like a camera and polyphonic ring tones, their status goes shooting up.

The temptation to long for a “cool” cell phone is normal, especially with the kind of advertising that is going on. Companies spend a lot of money on advertisements knowing that young people can be fooled into buying these phones. As a child of God, you must keep such desires in check. To get a cell phone that takes photographs of a decent quality is quite expensive. If you can afford a cell phone like that, it might be wiser to get a basic cell phone model and buy a separate digital camera instead.

Submitting to Rules

Schools usually have rules about cell phones. Be very careful to follow the rules.

  • If authorities do not want phones ringing during class, set your ring tone to the vibrate mode.
  • If authorities do not want you to use cell phones, switch them off during class hours.
  • If authorities do not allow cell phones at all, do not take them to with you.

Please submit to rules at all times.

Open your Bibles to Romans 13:1-7. This is a very important passage about people in authority—whether teachers, guardians, the government, etc.
Everyone must ___________ himself to the governing __________, for there is no ____________ except that which God has established. The ___________ that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who ___________ against the __________ is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

Cellphone Etiquette

If you do own a cell phone, remember:
Respect others in your use of the cell phone.

  • It is rude to abruptly stop a conversation with someone to answer the cell phone. Apologise if the call is from someone important and you have to take it.
  • Avoid speaking into the phone when you are in close proximity to others like in a lift or on a bus. You must attempt to put about 20 feet between you and others when you use a cell phone. This may not always be possible, but you must aim to do this.
  • Switch off phones in places like study rooms, libraries, assemblies, and concerts. Phones ringing in such places are an insult to others. In New York you will be fined 50 dollars if your cell phone goes off furing a play or a concert.
  • Never use the cell phone, unless it is hands free, when driving. Never. One cannot stress this enough. Many accidents happen because a person using a cell phone cannot give 100 percent attention to the road.
  • For the same reason, never cross railway tracks or the road while using a cell phone. Never. So many people lose their lives because of this.
  • If your cell phone can take pictures, please do not take unflattering pictures of others. You must not use your freedom to make others uncomfortable.

Health Concern with Cell Phones
One more reason why you must not use cell phones too much is radiation. We are told that exposure to radiation is not good for children. Have you seen what a ringing cell phone does to your computer or other electronic equipment? You hear a funny noise created by the powerful radio signal frequency emitted by the cell phone. How harmful, these powerful signals are to human beings is still a matter of debate. It is therefore wise to use cell phones carefully. The smaller the cell phone the stronger the radiation.

Telephone Usage

A telephone at home is an instrument that teaches children and young people many useful lessons. How many of these lessons have you learnt?

  • Always have a notebook and pen near the phone to note messages down. (In one house that I know, the pen stand near the phone seems to magically attract fountain pens with broken nibs, fountain pens with no ink, ball pens with no refills, and unsharpened pencils.) A good pen with a notebook is a must. You might want to have columns for date, time, caller’s name, caller’s phone number, and message. Even young children can be taught to ask for and enter this information. Entering phone numbers and messages on bits of paper is not a good idea. The notebook is ideal for this purpose.
  • Answering the phone politely and taking messages are basic skills.
  • Paste emergency numbers near the telephone. This must include numbers to call the Police, Firestation, and Ambulance service.
  • Keep the telephone directories and other commonly used numbers of family and friends near the telephone.
  • If the caller is making a long-distance call that is expensive, be careful to speak quickly and keep the call short.
  • Children must be taught that if their parents are not available to answer the phone, they do not need to answer the questions of an adult who they do not know. They can be made to memorise the following sentence. Mummy cannot come to the phone now, may I take a message.

A conversation like the following could result:
Caller: Hello
Child: Hello. Mummy cannot come to the phone now, may I take a message.
Caller: Where is your mom?
Child: Mummy cannot come to the phone now, may I take a message.
Caller: Has she gone out?
Child: Mummy cannot come to the phone now, may I take a message.
This conversation appears strange, but it is safe for children to be taught to deal with calls in this way.

  • Hang up immediately if you hear strange sounds or bad language and inform elders in the house. If the phone rings incessantly, and you suspect it to be a prank call, let some elder pick up the phone.
  • Young people, do learn to avoid calls from your friends during fixed study hours, after 10 P.M., and before 7.00 A.M.
  • Avoid long conversations if it annoys others in the family. Parents especially are very concerned for their children’s character and future. When a son or daughter speaks into a phone in whispers or behind closed doors for a long time, it is very frightening. On the one hand, they need to treat you as an adult while on the other hand, they have a mandate from God to lead you in the right path.

That last point is a hard one for young people to accept. But it all boils down to one Christian word, ‘Submission’. Every Christian, young and old, is under submission to many people. Starting from the government of the land, the list includes bosses at work, professors at university, teachers at school, policemen in the road, doctors in the hospital, pastors, elders at home, husbands, parents, and others.

It is beautiful to see a young woman or a young man submitting to authority. Do so out of reverence for the Lord.

Let’s close this subject with 1 Pet 5: 5-6.
Likewise you younger people, ___________ yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be ___________ to one another, and be clothed with ___________, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the ___________.”
Therefore __________ yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time

(Nahomi Dhinakar; Published in Youth Column of Dhyanamlar September 2006) Click here for other Youth Column articles