Technology Use by Tweens & Teens

The following infographic has been released by Common Sense Media after tons of research and interviews. Take a look at the info below and then check out a cool new resource for families to “pause” the internet and regain control over their technology.

Media Use by Tweens and Teens Infographic

Meet Circle
Circle is a new device that helps parents regain control over the internet. You can purchase it for $99 and set it up easily (so it seems) so that each member in your family and each of their devices is linked and monitored. Block websites you don’t want people to have access to, set time limits for each person, even set time limits for different apps or types of media (Facebook, Instagram, videos, games, etc.). Check out the video about Circle below.

The Heart, not Technology, is the Answer
Tim Challies is a Christian author who has issued an insightful warning about technology: Do not look to technology as the answer for technology problems. Don’t we do that?! Our tech causes a problem, which we rely on more tech to solve. If we stopped for a second to think about it we’d realize we’re trying to take the easy way out. If your family has a problem, you cannot buy Circle or set up some other internet filter and then wipe your hands, thinking, “Ahh, my duty is done!” Circle (or something like it) can definitely be part of the solution, but please don’t fully rely on it as the answer.

The heart is the solution, and only God can redirect the heart. Faithfully demonstrate to your family that God is your utmost priority in all things, and talk openly about what your family priorities are and why those things matter so much. If other kids’ families have other priorities, don’t be disrespectful towards them, but expect some pushback – “But Jimmy is allowed to play Minecraft whenever he wants.” (I’ve personally heard that one a million times.)

Chances are, your tweens and teens are more tech-savvy than you are. They may be able to find ways to work around whatever filters you set up. Remind them that you’re trying to make it hard for them to break the rules, and encourage them, “When you’re hacking your way through these filters, let that be a reminder to you that you’re trying to sin. Really think about whether or not you’re ok with that.”

Worth Your Time 5/1/15

Each Friday I try to provide a few articles that are worth the time of parents and youth workers. These articles span a number of issues, and not all are written by Christians, but they are all “worth your time.” Here’s the latest edition:

Why Not Gay Marriage? by Kevin DeYoung (The Gospel Coalition)
“Is there any reason a decent, rational, non-bigoted American might oppose same-sex marriage? Just as important: Are there any decent, rational, non-bigoted Americans who are willing to consider why other Americans might have plausible reasons for opposing same-sex marriage? This blog post is my way of saying “yes” to the first question and “let’s hope so” to the second.”
[On this same topic, I recommend Mike Riccardi’s post about whether or not the Bible talks about loving homosexual relationships or if it only condemns abusive homosexual relationships.]

Pray for Nepal by Tony Reinke (Desiring God)
“Viewed through this prism of the cross, Christ is exactly what my nation needs now. We tend to think that gospel would be ineffective or inappropriate to preach while people suffer so deeply. But it is the other way round. The gospel is the message of a broken Savior who is relevant to reach into broken lives right now. He is the only true comfort my country can have in this suffering.”

Today’s Teens and their Tech by Jonathan McKee (The Source 4 Youth Ministry)
“Last week Pew Research’s Amanda Lenhart released their brand new report on Teens, Social Media and Technology, providing us with the newest data on how many kids are actually online, engaging in social media, and using mobile devices.”

Remember Who You Are! by Todd Hill (Rooted Ministry)
“The reason I think that our students’ biggest struggle is living in their new identity, is because my biggest struggle is living in my new identity. Daily, I have to say to my Kingly Father, ‘Please help me not to live as an orphan today, but to live as your son!'”

God’s Will Isn’t Always Clear by Jon Bloom (Desiring God)
“But if we really love Jesus, we will increasingly love what he loves — we will be transformed by renewed minds. And our love for him and his kingdom will be revealed in the pattern of small and large decisions that we make.”

Replacing the Center of Youth Ministry by Josh Cousineau (Gospel Centered Discipleship)
“We must not point our youth toward empty religion but to a love-filled cross, a beaten and battered Savior, a King who defeated His foe, a risen Lord who rescues our hearts. To the one who beckons us, ‘Come, rest, and be accepted not because of what you have done but because I love you.’ The cross secures our affections to the one who was placed on it.”

The World Map of Christian Apps by Jeffrey Kranz (Disciplr)
“Devotionals, Bible readers, church management software—there are so many Christian apps out there! So the Disciplr team and I plotted the first ‘World Map of Christian Apps’: a visual guide to the landscape of digital tools created for the Church. This map pulls together Christian apps of all kinds: from native iOS and Android, Web-based, desktop software, and even a PowerPoint plugin. It’s not a comprehensive list, but it should give you an idea of what’s out there. And of course, remember that this is an observation, not a recommendation.”

One of the Most Important Things a Parent Can Remember

Featured imageA few years ago one of the other pastors at church gave me a short book called, “How to Really Love your Teenager” by D. Ross Campbell. Honestly, I didn’t love the book as a whole, but there is one thing from the book that has really impacted me (and that alone make the book easily worth the recommendation!). Campbell talks about the many teenagers he has seen for counseling and drives the point home that there is a difference between knowing that you are loved and feeling loved.

Parents, our kids need to know they are loved. But if they only know that as a fact it isn’t enough. Our kids need to feel loved too.

Anyone who knows me personally  knows that I’m not much of a feeler. This does not come naturally to me. But I am committed that my kids feel loved. You may be tempted to say, “Mike, your kids are young. Just wait until they’re teenagers!” It will get more difficult as they become teens, I know that… but it’s never easy. The sooner you start, the better. The later you start nurturing your kids feelings, the harder it will become.

I think this issue boils down to two things: love and trust.

When we get to the root of it all, I suspect that these two issues are simply two sides of the same question: “Are you for me?”

This might sound like a ridiculous question until we consider our sinful nature. We are all naturally prone to living for ourselves and it is a work of the Holy Spirit to truly and genuinely put others first.

As parents, we need to die to ourselves daily, thus providing a faithful example of the call of the gospel to our kids. It is by dying to ourselves that we find our life in Christ, and it is through Christ that we find the love our kids truly need. When we are living in the love of God, our kids (no matter how old or young they are) will be blessed by knowing and feeling loved.

Worth Your Time 4/10/15

Each Friday I try to provide a few articles that are worth the time of parents and youth workers. These articles span a number of issues, and not all are written by Christians, but they are all “worth your time.” Here’s the latest edition:

The Most Important Thing My Parents Did, by Tim Challies (Challies)
“I ask the question from time-to-time. Why are all five of my parents’ kids following the Lord, while so many of our friends and their families are not? Obviously I have no ability to peer into God’s sovereignty and come to any firm conclusions. But as I think back, I can think of one great difference between my home and my friends’ homes—at least the homes of my friends who have since walked away from the Lord and his church.”

Kids, Marijuana, and Reasoning Through the Dangers, by Walt Mueller (CPYU)
“In this case, the culture isn’t doing any favors for those of us who want to steer kids away from that which can cause harm of all kinds. Even when science offers compelling evidence, a growing number of kids are recklessly, impulsively, and foolishly choosing to do long-term harm to themselves. . . and justifying it all as benign.”

Do You Believe in Confirmation Bias, by Kenneth R. Morefield (Christianity Today)
“If Do You Believe? sometimes feels less tribal and triumphal than God’s Not Dead, it’s probably because Bobby’s story and the doctor’s story aren’t the center of the film (like Radisson’s), since they’re interwoven with several other storylines. …When [Christian movies] represent Christians interacting with other Christians or depict Christians struggling with internal conflicts, they are rarely culturally offensive and often inspiring or uplifting. But when they portray Christians interacting with non-Christians, they rely too much on flat, stereotypical villains whose only real function is to deliver rhetorical equivalents of slow, hanging curveballs for the Christian heroes to knock out of the park.”

The Most Widely Misunderstood Story in the Bible, by Lyndon Unger (Cripplegate)
“I’d suggest that the most widely known is probably the story of David and Goliath, and that story is always misunderstood…hence the title. Usually, the story is generally taken as some sort of underdog tale meant to encourage people to tackle impossible odds, or something along those lines. Sorry. That is not what it’s about.”

Never Sorry Enough, by Tim Challies (Challies)
“My friend expressed remorse and asked forgiveness, just like he should have. There were no amends he could make and no further actions he could take to make things right—that was not the nature of this offense. So he moved on. We remained friends. … But sometimes that old hurt would creep up. Sometimes I would find myself hurt all over again by that old offense. … I had judged his apology sincere but insufficient, well-intentioned but trite…. I had to see that no one can ever be sorry enough. No one can ever be contrite enough. Not him, and not me.

What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality?, by Kevin DeYoung (DeYoung @ The Gospel Coalition)
You can find a number of helpful resources here about the forthcoming book, “What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality?” on this page.

Worth Your Time 3/20/15

Each Friday I try to provide a few articles that are worth the time of parents and youth workers. These articles span a number of issues, and not all are written by Christians, but they are all “worth your time.” Here’s the latest edition:

Things I Would Do Differently if I Were Raising My Children Again, by Mark Altrogge (The Blazing Center)
“My children are adults now and several have children of their own. We had lots of fun as a family, and I have lots of great memories of raising our kids. But in retrospect, I think I would have done a number of things differently. So I share them in hopes that younger parents might benefit and not make some of the mistakes I did. Some things I would do differently…”

How to Read Your Bible for Yourself, by John Piper (Desiring God)
Look at the Book is John Piper’s latest effort to help teach people to read the Bible for themselves. It’s an ongoing series of 8–12 minute videos in which the camera is on the text, not the teacher.”

Why Our Children Don’t Think There are Moral Facts, by Justin McBrayer (New York Times)
“…if students are already showing up to college with this view of morality, it’s very unlikely that it’s the result of what professional philosophers are teaching. So where is the view coming from?

A few weeks ago, I learned that students are exposed to this sort of thinking well before crossing the threshold of higher education. When I went to visit my son’s second grade open house, I found a troubling pair of signs hanging over the bulletin board.”

What Not to Ask Someone Suffering, by Nancy Guthrie (Desiring God)
“People ask me all the time what to say and what to do for people who are grieving the death of someone they love. And I’m glad they ask. I’m glad they want to know what is really helpful and meaningful, and what is completely unhelpful and actually hurtful. And I wish I could tell you that I always know myself what to say. But sometimes words fail me. And I wish I could tell you that I never say the wrong thing. But I do. In fact, a few days ago, I made the mistake I often tell other people not to make.”

It’s the Little Things, by Nicholas Batzig (Ligonier)
“God loves to bless the little things His people do. Sometimes they are small acts, and sometimes they only appear to be so. Jesus cares deeply about the little things that His people do to bless others in His church. He takes note of them as precious acts of service. He uses the little things that His people do to carry on His work in the world through His church. May God give all of us grace to cultivate faithfulness in the little things that we do.”

3 Wrong Things That Some Christians Think About Heaven, by Justin Taylor (The Gospel Coalition)
“Davis shows that the following ideas, even though they are common, are unbiblical:

  1. Heaven is only future.
  2. Heaven is only spiritual.
  3. Heaven is inaccessible.”

Worth Your Time 2/27/15

Each Friday I try to provide a few articles that are worth the time of parents and youth workers. These articles span a number of issues, and not all are written by Christians, but they are all “worth your time.” Here’s the latest edition:

Does Your Youth Ministry Mess With Christ’s Bride by Jon Nielson (The Gospel Coalition)
“Youth pastors, directors, and workers need to be constantly called back to a focus on substantive, biblical, and gospel-centered ministry to young people, so that they do not fall prey to the gleam of a thriving and fun youth ministry that does not contribute to lasting kingdom fruit.”

Your Children are Looking at Pornography. How are you Responding? by Nicholas Black (Harvest USA)
“Pornography is anything the heart uses to find sexual expression outside of God’s intended design for relational intimacy. It is anything that tempts and corrupts the human heart into desiring sensual pleasure in sinful ways. By this definition, we live in a pornographic culture.”

Dropouts and Disciples: How Many Students are Really Leaving the Church? by Ed Stetzer (Christianity Today)
“In most cases, our surveys show a lack of intentionality in dropping out. Eighty percent of young people who dropped out of church said they did not plan to do so during high school. It’s not that most rejected the church. Our teenagers aren’t primarily leaving because they have significant disagreements with their theological upbringing or out of some sense of rebellion. For the most part, they simply lose track of the church and stop seeing it as important to their life.”

Revealed: The Science Behind Teenage Laziness by Louise Carpenter (The Telegraph)
“She is passionate, for example, about the madness of an 8.30/9am school start time. ‘It’s the middle of the night for a teenager!’ she says. Teenagers release melatonin (the sleepy hormone) a couple of hours later in the day than adults and so are able to stay up later, but then they need more sleep in the morning. ‘It’s like getting us up at 5.30am,’ Blakemore elaborates. Teenagers experience ‘social jet-lag’ as a result, hence the long lie-ins at the weekends (this is absolutely not slothfulness, she says, but their bodies catching up after being forced to awaken so early).”

How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life by Jon Ronson (The New York Times Reporter)
“Eventually I started to wonder about the recipients of our shamings, the real humans who were the virtual targets of these campaigns. So for the past two years, I’ve been interviewing individuals like Justine Sacco: everyday people pilloried brutally, most often for posting some poorly considered joke on social media. Whenever possible, I have met them in person, to truly grasp the emotional toll at the other end of our screens. The people I met were mostly unemployed, fired for their transgressions, and they seemed broken somehow — deeply confused and traumatized.”

Dadvertising at the Super Bowl by Mike McGarry (Rooted Ministries… yes, this is a shameless plug)
“A father’s love is powerful because it reflects the love and acceptance we were created to enjoy in our Heavenly Father, and when the Church steps into a kid’s life to care for him or her, it is a tangible expression of the adoption which is ours through faith in Jesus Christ.”