I saw the weirdest thing the other day . . . a bunch of teenagers sitting together, all looking at their phones and texting away or playing games. No one was talking to anyone else. They were together, but in different worlds. With so much access to technology, face-to-face communication skills for teens are seriously declining. It's sad, but if today's teens want to be good communicators, they are going to have to practice. Speed friendshipping is a fun way to start.
We played this game with the 14 and 15-year-old young men and young women from my church last week. We used it as an opportunity to teach the youth about body language and social skills for making friends. The kids (and adults) had a lot of fun! Before I tell you how to play and give you the free download of ice-breaker questions, here's what we briefly discussed with the kids before we started.
RELATED: Back to School: How to Make Friends, Back to School Friendship Game for Kids
Communication Skills for Teens
Body Language - You might not realized it, but what you do tells people how you feel about them just as much as what you say. Your body language silently communicates things to people around you. What are you communicating?
- Arms crossed in front of your body -- This is a negative posture. It makes you seem closed off and gives the impression that you are uninterested, or even angry. Folded arms in church may symbolize reverence, but folded arms in a conversation with a friend or potential employer sends a completely different message. Be careful.
- Looking around while someone is talking -- This is another cue that you are not interested in what someone is saying. Focus on the person who is talking.
- Looking at your phone or answering a text while someone is talking -- Believe it or not, but that phone call or text can wait. Nothing on your phone is more important than the person you are talking to. (This goes for parents, too. If we're playing a game when we're talking to our kids, we need to learn to stop!) If you need to peek at your phone to answer a call, you should apologize and excuse yourself for a minute. If you must answer the phone, make your conversation as brief as possible. Remember, the person in front of you is important!
- Look people in the eye -- Looking someone in the eye is one of the best listening skills to develop. This really helps people know that you care about what they are saying and that you are engaged in the conversation. Don't be embarrassed. This one skill will change the way people think about you!
- Ask people about themselves -- Don't make conversations all about you. Show interest in other people. Learn what is important to them.
- Learn people's names, and use them -- People love hearing their names. They will notice that you remember their name.
- Keep your head up, smile, and say, "Hello!" -- Look around and notice people around you! Smile at them. Say, "Hello." If you notice something has changed for the better about someone, let them know. Everyone loves a compliment, and everyone loves to be noticed.
Speed Friendshipping Game
Now to practice these skills! You've probably heard of speed dating. Well, I modified that idea for Speed Friendshipping. Here's how to play.
- Two rows of chairs facing each other (one chair per kid)
- Cow bell, buzzer, or some other fun way to let the kids know when time is up
- Printable questions (available at the end of the post)
- Basket for questions
How to play:
- Cut the printable questions into strips, fold them up individually, and place them in a cup or basket.
- Space the chairs so that the rows are facing each other. The facing chairs should be fairly close together, while the chairs in each row should be about two to three feet apart.
- Kids sit in the chairs. It does not matter if they are sitting across from a boy or a girl. By the time the game is over, they will hopefully get a chance to talk to everyone.
- One row of kids will stay in the same seats. The other row of kids will move one seat to the right every time the bell rings.
- Depending on the number of kids, have each kid pull one or two questions from the basket. (We had a small group, so each kid took two.)
- Set the timer for two minutes.
- Kids have two minutes to ask each other questions from their papers. (Hopefully, they'll practice the social skills you just discussed!)
- After two minutes, ring the bell and ask the kids to stop. Have the kids in the row that will move change seats.
- Keep timing for two minutes and changing seats until kids get back to the beginning. Now mix kids up so that kids will get to talk to kids that were in their same row, and play again. Pass out new questions if the kids are sick of the ones they have.
Still have time left in your activity? Play Buddy Tag. (Also sometimes called Missionary Tag.)
Download the questions by clicking on the appropriate link below. Choose to download a pdf version of my questions or a zip file of the word document that you can edit yourself. If you want to preview the questions before downloading, click on the pdf option. It will open the file in a new window, and you can check out the questions before printing.
The file includes 21 creative questions to break the ice and get the youth talking and having fun together! I hope your activity or game night is a success! Thanks for stopping by today.
Check out more fun ideas by clicking on the images below. The images are linked to posts.
What a great game for teens! I'm going to have to tell my boys about this because every time they're with their friends, faces are in their phones.
Those phones! They're a blessing and a curse! I wonder if this generation will have any idea how to communicate face to face. (My kids included!)
Definitely sounds like a great game for teens! Great way for them to interact.
Thanks, Ashley. Isn't it funny that kids these days actually have to work at speaking face to face? It's crazy.
I really like this! I hate to see a group of kids together and they all have their noses in their phone.
Thanks, Leah. It's sad, isn't it? The other day, I saw a mom and her teenage kids at a restaurant. They didn't speak to each other once. They all sat with their faces in their phones the entire time. Mom included. I guess adults aren't immune to the lure of technology!
I love how you made this a game. I'm struggling with my tween son on social cues and this may be just he needs to help!
Thanks, Lisa. I hope this helps. The trick is finding a way to get kids together to play. We played it as a youth group at church, so it was the perfect opportunity.
Such a great idea. I have one teen that would really benefit from this. Might have to have her try it out!
Thanks, Scott. Good luck! I hope it's helpful for her.
This is such a great game for teens! I don't have teens yet... and wont for quite some time but I think this could be really useful!
Enjoy no teens while it lasts! They're a bit challenging, but it's all worth it.
What a fun idea. I am going to pin this and bring it to confirmation as I am teaching this year, tough to get those kids to talk sometimes.
Thanks, Kristi. Good idea. Anything to get the kids talking! It's tough.