A Frustrated Staff

Dear Bulldog,

How do you keep teenagers engaged and off of their cell phones? I watch them on their phones during specials, morning assemblies, or during programs and it frustrates me, they are not engaged but even more distracted.

Thanks for your help,

A Frustrated Staff


Dear Frustrated Staff,

Here is what we do for our programs. To keep teenagers engaged and off of their cellphones, it is important to:

  1. Set rules and expectations regarding behavior and cell phone use.
    • No cell phones allowed in class, during specials, or at the assembly
    • Be clear and consistent when setting expectations so students know the rules and appropriate times to use their devices
  2. Get them to participate or join in the activity by explaining that if everyone does well we can have 5 minutes at the end for free time (so they can check their phones).
  3. Empower them to be leaders and participate. Use positive affirmations and praise.
  4. Make a challenge for the students to pay attention or create a game to increase engagement.
  5. Create leaders to help you manage the technology in the classroom or program. The leader can help you set the tone, help peers pay attention, and lead an activity or discussion. By changing up your leaders you can create more engagement.

It is important to remember that engaging with teenagers is about being yourself all while setting boundaries. Teenagers like to be challenged and have engaging discussions that are relatable to themselves and their lives. Take this into consideration as you interact with them! Just remember to be consistent, clear, and repeat the cell phone rules you set in place. Students tend to easily forget.

Good luck with your group!


Bulldog Team