Cell phones, didn't have them when I was in youth group. When I went to youth group or a youth activity I had a choice to make, join in on the fun, make connections with other students or go sit by myself in a corner. Today students can make the choice to join in on the fun, make connections with other students or they can go off in the corner and talk or text on their cell phone. Cell phones create a barrier for students to connect with other live and in person students at youth group. We had a new girl visit youth group last summer. She came with her phone on her ear and it stayed on her ear almost the entire time. Students approached her to welcome her only to get the cold shoulder. She didn't want to be there and was using her phone as the barrier.
This problem would be the equivalent of you inviting me to your house for dinner and an evening of hanging out together and I show up with my lap top and I open the lap top and ignore you the entire time. Pretty much a rude act.
Most youth groups have some sort of cell phone policy. We don't allow them on trips. If a student needs to call home we have enough adults available with phones. I've even heard the "I won't call anyone but am using it as my alarm clock" excuse. Guess what? They make a cool little item called a digital alarm clock. We want to remove the barrier. Did once have a student borrow an adult leader's phone to call her mom. She talked to mom for over a half hour. That seemed a bit weird to me. The adult leader hit redial and the girl's boyfriend answered the phone. Remove the barrier. At our weekly youth group gathering students can bring their phone but they are not supposed to use it to make calls or text unless it is to call or text parents or to call and invite a friend to youth group.
We understand that cell phones are a part of life in our world today. I don't leave home without mine. We also understand that cell phones can get in the way of the bigger picture. Students should be forming relationships and connections with other students while at youth group, that is what fellowship is about. Relationships are what keep students coming back to youth group, not the cool and hip youth pastor, not the bag of chips and junk food. We were meant to live life together. Cell phones have their place but can be a barrier to fellowship.