Friday, September 30, 2011

Should YL Leaders Own iPhones?

It's been ten months since I made the plunge into the iWorld. Last night I spent thirty minutes debating with a YL leader friend around the issue of her buying an iPhone versus staying old school. With the release of the iPhone 5 just around the corner, and the price of the iPhone 4 dropping to $199, others are debating as well. Here are some personal reflections.

Negatives of Owning An iPhone

I sleep less.

I rarely read printed books.

I more easily avoid silence and solitude.

I have more distractions from time with God.

I'm tempted to not be as present with people.

I'm $400 poorer.

I've struggled with brief addictions to Angry Birds, Words with Friends, & that T-pain auto-tune app.

Positives of Owning An iPhone

I have great pics & videos I wouldn't have otherwise had.

I don't run to my laptop as soon as I get home because I've already checked email.

I am more aware of what's going on in the world and in my friends' lives.

I play phone games with my high school friends and "chat" more often.

I don't get lost as easily. Thanks Google Maps!

I always have the Bible with me, and actually read it more than before. Thanks YouVersion!

I listen to more sermons. Thanks Instacast!

I have easy access to my calendar and "to do" list.

I get to video chat with my family when I'm away.

I can send personalized mass texts to YL kids. Thanks HyperText (see below)!

I realize that Android, Blackberry, and other phones also have lots of these same capabilities. I have never owned another smart phone, so I'm only really able to talk about the iPhone or my old school Nokia, which was flippin' sweet with T9 texting and "Snake."

iPhone Apps That Help Me Connect With High School Friends

Facebook Messenger

It came out last month as a free app for both iPhone and Android and simplifies your fb messages into a separate app, saving you the trouble of navigating through your original fb app to read and reply to messages. It also has advanced notifications that can work like text messaging with the option to turn off notifications while you sleep.

Get Facebook Messenger free here.

Google Reader

You may not realize it, but lots of your high school friends are bloggers. Some of their English teachers assign them to start a blog for writing practice and homework. Most of them aren't regular bloggers, but will update it every now and then. It's difficult to remember to keep checking back to see if they wrote anything significant, so the easiest way to stay updated is to use Google Reader or another RSS feed. Using an RSS feed sends an update of every website/blog you want to follow to one place, your Reader. I was checking my Google Reader last week and saw that one of my high school friends, who hasn't blogged in months, wrote an intense post crying out for help. "I know no one ever reads this blog, but if you happen to check it, my life is falling apart..." I was thankful that I had subscribed to his blog and he was shocked, in a good way, when I called to follow up. Consider sending a facebook message to your high school friends asking who keeps a blog. I bet you'll be surprised.

Get a Google Reader
app free here.


A Young Life leader in San Antonio, Geoff Lancaster, invented this app to help leaders send personalized mass texts. It allows you to enter a generic message, select your contacts (or groups) and it will substitute certain words in the message with the recipients personal information.

Example text message:
Hey [first name]! Don't forget club tonight at 7:37!! Can't wait to see you!
Bobby's message will say - "Hey Bobby! Don't forget to come to club tonight at 7:37!! Can't wait to see you!

This allows the recipients to receive a personalize text message instead of a blanket message.

Get the HyperText App here.

Words With Friends/ Hanging With Friends

Many of you already play these addicting games. If not, they are great ways to connect with kids. It's a safe, easy intro step to getting to know high schoolers. Even before it's acceptable to "friend" someone on fb, it's totally kosher to ask someone their WWF name. I was at a lunch table with guys a month ago and one guy was playing WWF. I started talking junk, gave him my WWF name, and we were playing and in-game-chatting that night. The next day he friended me on fb. Last week he came to club for the first time. When I saw him at lunch this week, he acted like we were boyz. I've wasted too much time on WWF & HWF, but they are great entry points with kids.

Get Words With Friends (Scrabble) here.
Get Hanging With Friends (Hangman) here.

What other "must have iPhone Apps for YL leaders" would you add to this list? Please comment below.


  1. Thanks for pointing out the hypertext app. Don't know how I feel about it though. Would be pretty weird for a kid to know he or she wasn't getting an actually personalized text, haha.

    As for whether we should have smartphones or not, I agree, they are huge distractions. Sometimes I feel like I would be better off with pen and paper and kickin' it old school, but kids only communicate via text, and the ability to send multiple text messages on old school phones is hard. Plus, having that internet connection has kept me in the stands for some boring JV sports games a lot longer than I would've been without it!

  2. there is a "catch phrase" app which makes a few people into a party

  3. hypertext is now 99 cents! thanks for telling me about it!