Open today’s lesson by asking your class the following question:
Think about your life over the last few months. When was the last time you were truly alone for more than a few minutes? (If your teens are like most young people, it’s been a long time since they were really alone. Sure, there’s time when there’s no one physically with them, but because of smartphones we’re always in contact with others.)
At any given time, you have the ability to reach out to hundreds of different people. You always know what your friends are thinking, and they always know what you’re thinking because you’re posting about it.
Most people would probably say that they use their phones a lot, but understanding exactly how much was, for a long time, pretty difficult to quantify. Now, however, the arrival of Apple’s iOS 12 and comparable Android apps means you can use a built-in suite of Screen Time tools to track exactly how much time you’re spending on your phone across different apps.
Ask a few volunteers to pull up Screen Time stats on their phone (Settings>Screen Time on iPhones) and share with the group their weekly total usage, number of pickups, and notification counts.
Forty-five and a half percent of all teens in the U.S. use their phones between three and six hours each day, with about 50 percent reporting that they’re checking social media apps “almost constantly.” Additionally, teens receive 100+ text messages per day on average and are picking up their phones around 75 times daily.
- How do your numbers compare with the national averages? Do you wish they were lower, higher, or the same?
According to 2015 research by the Wildness Group, 89 percent of teens say that they have to take intentional breaks from social media. That “being constantly connected through all of our different channels necessitates intentional disengagement.”
- Is this true in your own life? Do you wonder what life would be like without all of this connection?
Back in 1989, a man named Mauro Morandi’s boat docked on Budelli Island off the northern coast of Sardinia, Italy. Discovering that the island’s caretaker was retiring within the next two days, Mauro decided to extend his stay indefinitely. He stepped into the role himself. Little did he know that nearly 30 years later, he would still be there.
Play the following clip [4:15].
I Live Alone in an Island Paradise
Mauro has built a small, simple life for himself on the island, collecting rain for drinking water, and building solar panels for electricity. Living alone, his love for his island paradise runs deep, and he hopes to stay as long as his health allows it.
- What do you think about this kind of lifestyle? What are the pros and cons of a life of isolation? (Allow your students to speculate; there are no right or wrong answers here.)
- If you had to live like this for a year, how do you think the experience would change you? (Students might comment negatively or positively; positive comments might include slowing down and appreciating things they overlook now, a sense of calm or peace, being more thoughtful and finding new interests.)
- What if someone in your life asked/required you to be truly alone whenever you wanted to be with them? Would you do it?
God calls us to set aside time to be completely alone with Him. Let’s explore why that’s important and what that might look like.