In my previous blog post, I argued that adults need to reach youth at their level, and that texting is one way to communicate using a method that is relevant to them. Whether you are a youth pastor/leader, a YMCA mentor, or a soccer coach—anyone who has a position of leadership among youth knows how difficult it can be to get them involved and engaged.
Young people can be absentminded. They can be dramatic. Silly. Downright foolish. And they sometimes are not highly motivated. Here are some ways that you can use text messaging to help them be more active, to increase youth engagement.
1. Use text alerts to remind them of events.
Sometimes young people are disengaged simply because they forget things. They often don’t write dates down, and events can easily slip their minds. Sending out text alerts as reminders of event dates, times, and other details is a useful way to help ensure that more youth show up. Your youth are much more likely to read a text message than a paper publication or an email newsletter, and sending out these reminders keeps the details of your events on their phones for easy reference.
2. Use text alerts to keep them accountable.
If you are a youth pastor, you may know the frustration of young people forgetting to read their Bible study assignment through the week. Or if you are a piano teacher, you understand that your students don’t always (or don’t ever) practice through the week like they should. Anyone dealing with youth knows that they more than likely won’t do what they are supposed to do or what they are assigned to do before you see them next. Sending them text alerts such as, “Don’t forget to practice your Mozart!” or “Read through chapters 1-2 before our next meeting!” can help remedy this problem.
3. Use text alerts to make them aware of opportunities.
Youth aren’t born with an inherent instinct to pursue opportunities. They don’t always know that they have to make their own way in life; they seem to sometimes live under the impression that life will just hand them opportunities on a silver platter. Sending them text alerts that notify about potential opportunities can help encourage them to take advantage of situations that arise in life. With a high school classroom, for example, a teacher might send out a text alert letting students know about an internship opening. A youth pastor might send a text alert about a service opportunity—perhaps an elderly person at church needs to have the leaves raked from their yard.
Through these ways and more, adults can utilize text messages to increase youth engagement. Don’t be out of touch! Technology is not the enemy; if you learn how to utilize it well, it can be very effective.