Rabu, 16 November 2016

Free Youth Series: “Down to Earth”

Free Youth Series: “Down to Earth”

What does it really look like to be a disciple?

Free Youth Series

Download this 3-week series to share with your youth ministry.
From Open Network, “What does it really look like to be a disciple? What does it even mean? A disciple is someone who follows Christ and tries to live like He lived. This series is all about helping students understand what it means to be a disciple of Christ and live like Him in everyday life. Find message videos, guides, and supporting materials below for free. In this unit, the year is 2057, and Jennifer lands an exciting new job with Cosmic Kinetics, a company that comes up with wacky inventions for people on other planets. As she’s finding her way, she meets her childhood hero and becomes his disciple. Soon she learns how special her new team is and what a difference they’re making in the lives of others.”
This kids series package includes:
  • Experience guides
  • Game guides
  • Teaching segment videos
  • Message videos
  • Challenge Cards in PDF format

Get Download Now

Resource provided by Open Network

How to Lay Aside the Weight of Lust

How to Lay Aside the Weight of Lust

How to Lay Aside the Weigh of Lust
Why it’s time to turn to faith and embrace hope and grace.
Lust is an ancient and universal human sinful appetite. The more we feed it, the more ravenous and perversely diverse it becomes. And the more socially acceptable perverse diversity becomes, the more sexual immorality steals, kills and destroys human lives.
No wonder lust is one of Satan’s choice temptation weapons. Few sins wield as much power to blind unbelievers and seduce Christians, and then immobilize them with shame. So, at all costs, we fight and flee it lest it make us a prisoner of war (1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Peter 2:11).
A few centuries ago, the English word lust described a fairly wide range of human desires, both good and evil. Today, lust is typically shorthand for “sexually immoral desires.” But still, lust covers a lot of ground, because there is a wide range of “sexually immoral desires.” These desires, and the behaviors they produce, if not vigilantly resisted, have been a devastating part of the human experience since the forbidden fruit was eaten in Eden.
But the driving force behind lust is frequently misunderstood. The human sexual drive, while strong, is not the dominant power in lust. Sin is the dominant power. Various kinds of sin seize or infect the sexual drive in order to gratify selfishness through sexuality.
This is why lust can be so difficult to fight. Our sexual drive can be infected by many different kinds of sinful desire viruses, resulting in multiple variants of lust disease. What helps us fight lust one day might not help the next, because a different virus is infecting the sexual drive.

Viruses leading to lust

One common virus is coveting. Our rebellious sinful nature finds forbidden things attractive and covets them (Romans 7:7–8). Since sin infects our sexual drive, it is no surprise that we are tempted to lust after forbidden sex. This was Amnon’s lust for his half-sister, Tamar (2 Samuel 13). The fact that he despised her after he sated his lust reveals that his desire was fueled by coveting Tamar as a sexually forbidden object, not by real love for Tamar the person (2 Samuel 13:15).
Another virus is self-indulgence. Self-indulgence can manifest in any corrupted human appetite. In fact, self-indulgence can be contagious. I have found if I sinfully indulge in one area, like overeating or entertainment or laziness, I am more vulnerable to sexual temptation. Certain emotional states also may trigger a desire to indulge lust (among other things), like the euphoria of success, boredom, self-pity, discouragement, anger and more.
A host of other sin-viruses can infect us and become manifest through the sexual drive. Lust can be fueled by a desire to wield self-exalting dominance or manipulative power over another. It can be fueled by discontent. It can be fueled by the fear of death, manifested in a sexualized desire to recapture youth or be sexually desired by youth.
And more than one virus frequently powers our lust. For example, when David lusted after Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11), his sexual drive was infected with selfish indulgence, coveting someone forbidden and possibly numerous other sin-viruses.
Lust also can be hard to fight because the fog of arousal often obscures the sins that are fueling it. But the more we recognize the sin-triggers, the better we can cut lust’s fuel supply and blow away its fog.

The most powerful way to fight lust

Crucial to fighting lust is identifying triggers and choking the fuel supply. Accountability partners and software safeguards can be great helps. But these are defensive measures and only half the battle—and not the most powerful half.
The most powerful and successful way to fight the desire fire of lust is with the desire fire of faith in what God promises to us. Faith in God’s promises prepares us for offensive action. Faith shields us from enemy blows while God’s promises hack down spiritual enemies like broadsword (Ephesians 6:16–17).
When faith in God’s word swells in our hearts, lust is no match for it. You know what I mean. When you have been most filled with hope and trust and delight in God, what kind of grip did lust have on you? Hardly any. You didn’t want to defile your mind and heart with anything impure.
We are not na├»ve. We know we will not always surge with lust-dousing faith. So we need to put strong defenses in place. We must understand the nature of lust so we are not ignorant of Satan’s designs (2 Corinthians 2:11). But the only way we will not gratify lustful desires of the flesh is to walk by the Spirit—cultivating love for and trust in what the Spirit of God says in the word of God (Galatians 5:16).

Lay aside the weight of lust

The cross of Christ guarantees that every moment of confession and repentance is a cleansing moment (1 John 1:9) and that “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Last year’s or yesterday’s or this morning’s lust need not linger or flagellate us with shame.
But our birthright as children of God is far more than the removal of condemnation. It is freedom (John 8:32; Romans 8:21; Galatians 5:1). That’s why Satan tries to enslave us with lust: to steal our spiritual freedom and joy. For when indulged, lust weighs down our souls, quenches our faith and shuts our mouths. It robs our desire to worship God, witness for Jesus, intercede for kingdom needs, encourage others, give generously, reach unreached peoples or engage in spiritual warfare. It makes prisoners out of freemen.
So let’s lay down this sin-weight, this demonic ball and chain (Hebrews 12:1). Let’s press to see lust for what it truly is, and more importantly Christ for who he is. Let’s fight for lust-crushing faith and to be filled with the Spirit. For “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17).
Jon Bloom

Jon Bloom

Jon Bloom is the Executive Director for Desiring God Ministries

10 Reasons Teens Shouldn’t Smoke Marijuana

10 Reasons Teens Shouldn’t Smoke Marijuana (Even if It’s Legal)

10 Reasons Teens Shouldn't Smoke Marijuana (Even if It's Legal)
A biblical approach to legal pot.
I live in the state of Colorado. Ten years ago we were known for being “Broncos” country (yes!), ski country (yes!) and hunting/hiking/fishing country (yes! yes! yes!).
Now we are known for all of that plus being one of the four “stoner states” where marijuana is legal for recreational use (Boo!).
As a lifelong Colorado resident, I’m not happy about that. In my opinion, we have exchanged some of our swagger as a tough state for one that prefers Doritos and doobies. And, as the founder of a ministry that is committed to reaching teenagers with the hope of Jesus Christ, I’m very concerned about that.
Just a few days ago I had a pretty interesting conversation with my 15-year-old son about it. What I realized in talking to him was that I had never clearly, biblically laid out a comprehensive case against smoking weed. Sure, we’ve talked about it. He doesn’t do drugs nor does he want to. But he wasn’t as clear about the “why” as I had hoped. So I decided to write this article to build a strong biblical case against marijuana use for the Christian teen.
And, by the way, I’m not one of those guys who is totally against legitimate medical marijuana use. I watched my mom die slowly and painfully of stage four cancer. I would have rather had watched her smoke a joint to ease her pain in her final days than the total-shut-down-of-her-senses medications the doctor prescribed instead.
But I am one of those people who believe that recreational marijuana use can be absolutely devastating to young people and old people alike. And a Christian should never take it “just for fun.” This is especially true of Christian teenagers.
The more I travel, the more I talk to youth leaders who have Christian teenagers who think marijuana use is “no big deal.” These Christian teenagers view it as less dangerous than drinking and less addictive than heroin. In their view it just makes you feel good and, well…what’s wrong with that?
So, as an evangelist to young people, a Colorado resident and the father of a 15-year-old Christian teenager, I wanted to give you 10 reasons that Christian teenagers should not smoke weed:

1.  It’s a sin for Christians to let any controlled substance control them.

“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18
When your stomach is full of wine, your bloodstream is full of alcohol. When your lungs are full of marijuana smoke, your bloodstream is full of THC (the active drug in marijuana.)
As believers, the only “controlled substance” that should overtake our minds, bodies and senses is the power of the Holy Spirit. Any other mind-altering drug is off limits for those of us who claim the name of Christ. As believers, we should never get drunk with alcohol or high on drugs. Instead we should be full of the Holy Spirit!

2.  It’s illegal for a teenager to smoke weed.

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” Romans 12:1, 2
Even in my free-wheeling state of Colorado you have to be 21 to consume recreational drugs. In other words, to smoke weed before then is breaking the law…and breaking the law is a sin.

3.  It impacts the adolescent brain and can damage it for life.

“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.” Proverbs 22:3
According to the book of Proverbs, simpletons see the danger in indulging in something, but go for it anyway. These fools pay the price.
In the same way, if science shows that smoking marijuana damages a teenager’s brain and they do it anyway, they are being fools. And science does show it, by the way…
In an interview with CBC News, Dr. Romina Mizrahi, director of the Focus on Youth Psychosis Prevention clinic and research program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, said that “brain development in childhood continues through teenage years and into the early 20s.” She explained that “cannabis affects how the brain’s regulator—called the endocannabinoid system—controls things like mood and memory… You’re kind of tampering with or altering the system that’s there to regulate other things.”

4.  It can lead to a sedentary, lazy, wasted life (which is a sin!).

Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.”  Proverbs 12:24
There’s a reason most stoners are depicted as Dorito-crunching, couch-crashing slackers…because many of them are! I’ve talked to countless parents whose teens or 20-somethings have pretty much given up on anything but smoking drugs, playing video games and lying around. If they work, they work just enough to make just enough to pay for their next bag full of weed.
Getting addicted to anything (especially drugs) can take away our ambition to work hard, save money and be generous to others. It can lead to years of a young person’s life being totally wasted. And this brand of life does not glorify God!

5.  It can become a gateway to even more addictive drugs.

“Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.” Romans 6:19
Sin breeds sin. Once you say “no” to “Just Say No!” it becomes much easier to say “yes” to even more dangerous drugs…and soon the downward spiral begins.
Teenagers can easily become “slaves” to marijuana which can lead to “ever increasing wickedness.” Soon teens can find themselves addicted to Oxycontin, heroin or meth.
Am I using scare tactics here? Of course I am! But it’s motivated out of love for these Christian teenagers! I don’t want to see them caught in a trap that I’ve seen so many fall into and many never get out of. And far too many fall into even more addictive drugs as a result.

6.  It can rob teens of pursuing their calling wholeheartedly.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23,24
As believers in Jesus, we are called to work with all of our hearts in the calling he has given us. Students have a calling to be the best students they can be. Athletes have a calling to be the best athletes they can be. Employees have a calling to be the best workers they can be. Marijuana takes the edge off a teenager’s ability to think and execute their God-given calling wholeheartedly. 

7.  It makes a teen more open to moral compromise.

“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18
Being drunk “leads to debauchery” and so does smoking weed. That word debauchery means “abandoned to sensuality and lust; dissoluteness, debauchery, revelry.” It’s hard enough to say “no” to sin, let alone when your senses are dulled due to drug or alcohol use. So if you want to stay pure, stay sober by staying drug free.

8.  It dishonors a Christian teen’s body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-21
Think of your body as a temple (because it is) where God dwells (because he does!).
When Christian teenagers look at their bodies this way, why in the world would they want to fill it with a substance that negatively impacts it? Let’s not fill his temple full of smoke!

9.  It impedes a teenager’s ability to pray with a clear mind.

“The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.” 1 Peter 4:7
We are called to keep our minds clear so that we can pray. Marijuana clouds clear minds. Enough said.

10. It robs teens of their ability to be effective witnesses for Jesus Christ.

For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. ” 1 Peter 4:3-5
Christian teenagers who choose not to engage in drunkenness and drug use may get mocked by their indulging friends. But it’s their refusal to indulge that can open up doors for powerful Gospel conversations.
Every Christian teenager has an opportunity to be a witness for Jesus Christ, but marijuana use severely impacts their ability to credibly share that Jesus is our only source of true joy and life.
If you are a parent, I challenge you to sit down with your pre-teens and teenagers and go over this list with them. If you’re a youth leader, make it the theme of a youth group meeting and teach these 10 points. Be sure to add a discussion time after. 
Let’s help our teenagers be clear-minded, pure-hearted witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ in a teen world that is increasingly open to marijuana use.

Sabtu, 12 November 2016

Seven Steps That Will Help Leaders Reach More People on Social Media

Seven Steps That Will Help Leaders Reach More People on Social Media

Seven Steps That Will Help Leaders Reach More People On Social Media
Social media is one of the ways to start building a relationship with your wider community.
There is no doubt that social media is having a huge impact on churches’ ability to reach and influence culture. One of the biggest challenges and opportunities church leaders face is whether or not they should be active on social media. If you are in leadership at any kind of level reading this, I want to tell you that you should absolutely be actively participating on social media.
I’m not talking about your church social media feed. I’m talking to you personally. You should absolutely be active, interacting and present.
When you leverage social media well, you have the potential and capacity to reach many more people online as compared to those who may attend your church. Not just those in the wider Christian community, but you will reach more people who don’t even attend church. Most church leaders dream about being able connect and communicate with the wider community so simply and directly.
Is it your dream that you could impact and connect with your wider community? If it is I want to share with you seven steps that will help you reach people more than ever before.
1. Imagine the average person in your community that doesn’t attend your church. Create a persona of them. What age range are they, where do they live, what kind of job or study do they do? Are they married? Do they have children?
2. Write a list of the issues they may be facing. It could be in their work, marriage, relationships, dating, finances or spiritual questions you get from people who are exploring the Christian faith.
3. Once you have a list, create a list of topics you think people need to know about.
4. Create a schedule. When do you think is the best time to post or be online so that more people see and engage? (Tip: If you are on a Facebook page, check the insights as that will tell you when most of your audience are online.)
5. Decide what is the best kind of post that will drive interaction so that it will reach more people (make sure it is a public post so that it can be seen beyond your friendship circles).
6. Share your heart with your congregation. Write an email telling your congregation why you are doing this and get them to share and interact with the posts. Sharing the ‘why’ is huge. Not only is it another way to reinforce the mission-centered culture of your church, it will also encourage them to have conversations on the posts that they share with their own friends. Time the scheduling of your email so that they can immediately interact with your post on social media. They are much more likely to share your post if they don’t have to wait.
7. Read the interactions and comments. And reply! As people interact with you, you will hear what issues are important to them. Not only do you provide a voice, you are showing that you are listening by interacting. It is also such a smart way to build your library of ideas for future posts.
I personally think that Facebook Live is a brilliant strategy for church leaders to use. If you are a gifted speaker then it will be a great way to reach more people as Facebook is giving priority to Facebook Live videos, which means that you reach more people. Find out more here.
Social media is one of the ways to start building a relationship with your wider community. It is a great first touchpoint that is easily accessible where they will find out more about you and your church. They will see your passion and heart, they can see you as a regular person who can walk alongside them in their life and for some who may at some point step into your church.
Steve Fogg

Steve Fogg

Follower. Husband. Dad. I'm into branding, marketing, digital, communications with a pinch of PR. Communications Pastor

Sabtu, 05 November 2016

I Still Believe Character Matters

I Still Believe Character Matters

I Still Believe Character Matters
“The core value of good leadership is character.”
The core value of good leadership is character. Ability matters. Decision-making is vital. The skills to communicate and inspire are essential. But character trumps them all.
I was taught this growing up in a conservative, evangelical church in the late ’80s and early ’90s. I didn’t know it at the time, but the community that raised me was known as the Religious Right. Spending a few years around great biblical scholars would later show me that not everything that church taught me was true or biblical. Yet they got more right than they got wrong. (See: You Control What Matters Most)
Few things did they get more right than the idea that character counts.
While issues are important, my mentors preached the soul of a man or woman was of far greater importance than any individual debate. Two people can get a lot of work done even if they disagree on key issues, but only if trust is present. Trust is a byproduct of good character. Issues are debatable, character is not.

Character Is Not Perfection

Everyone is imperfect. The importance of character does not mean we expect our leaders to be different. Character is not perfection. Our leaders can’t be perfect. They will make bad choices, sometimes disastrous choices. Some of those choices can disqualify them from leadership, but rarely. More often than not, if a leader properly handles a bad decision—admits it, seeks forgiveness, makes amends—the mistake can actually propel them to better leadership.
However, we can’t fall for the false teaching that because every person is imperfect, bad choices can be ignored. Some are quick to excuse themselves or their leaders whenever they make mistakes by quickly comparing them to the mistakes of others. It’s a false comparison. Not every mistake is equal. Some things do have more penal consequences than others.
A pastor who has a series of affairs can be forgiven, but he should not continue to direct a church.
A teacher who says inappropriate things to a student can move on, but should never be trusted around children.
A leader who refuses to acknowledge his immorality can do significant things, but they should not be allowed to lead.
Character matters. (See: How to Better Control Yourself)

French Muslims Are Showing Solidarity With French Catholics in This Surprising Way

French Muslims Are Showing Solidarity With French Catholics in This Surprising Way

“It’s an important gesture of fraternity. They’ve told us, and I think they’re sincere, that it’s not Islam which killed Jacques Hamel.”
Following a brutal attack claiming the life of a priest in France, Muslims across that nation came out en masse to attend services in Catholic churches.
The priest was murdered by jihadists on Tuesday, July 26, in a small town in Normandy, France. Although France has seen greater loss through other attacks, for instance the attack in Nice that claimed 84 lives, this attack was particularly distressing because it targeted the church.
Following the attack on Tuesday, the French Muslim council CFCM asked for Muslims across the nation to show their “solidarity and compassion” toward the Catholic church by showing up for mass on Sunday. The BBC quoted the head of CFCM as saying, “We are all Catholics of France.”
One hundred Muslims joined about 2,000 people who piled into the cathedral of Rouen, near the town where the priest was killed. In fact, the president of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray Mosque (located in the same town where the priest was killed) showed up to the mass as well. Across the nation of France there were reports of Muslims attending services, including in Notre Dame.
The gesture even crossed national lines. In Italy, three imams sat in the front row at Santa Maria Trastevere church in Rome for Sunday mass.
Muslims in France are eager to show (by their actions) their neighbors that Islam is not a religion of violence, but that the jihadists represent an outlying sect of the religion. The Archbishop of Rouen, Dominique Lebrun, said Muslims’ attendance at mass is “an important gesture of fraternity. They’ve told us, and I think they’re sincere, that it’s not Islam which killed Jacques Hamel.”
Furthermore, as a Yahoo News article points out, Catholic priests are eager to welcome Muslims into their churches and thereby show solidarity toward their neighbors. “It’s an occasion to show (Muslims) that we do not confuse Islam with Islamism, Muslim with jihadist,” said Reverend Jean Rouet.
Megan Briggs

Megan Briggs

Megan Briggs is a content editor and passionate follower of Christ. Two things – she believes – that should be linked together more often. Her experience in ministry to youth and parents as well as the extensive amount of time she’s spent in ministry overseas gives her a unique perspective on the global church. Megan is passionate about spreading the gospel and equipping the church for holiness. When she’s not writing or proofreading, Megan likes to run.

The Impact of Technology on Teenagers

The Impact of Technology on Teenagers

The Impact of Technology on Teenagers
We’re saturated with media. Question is: How is your family dealing with it?
Face it. We’re saturated with media.
Yesterday when I got up, the first sound I heard was the music oozing from my girls’ iPods through their docking stations. Moments later, as my 15-year-old daughter, Alyssa, came downstairs to breakfast, she was texting a friend about homework. Meanwhile, my 13-year-old, Ashley, quickly jumped online to check the weather. Five minutes later, we were in the car and Ashley routinely plugged her iPod into the car’s system so we could all benefit from hearing her music on the way to school.
I’ve read all the reports about media saturation. Our family doesn’t leave the TV on, my kids don’t have Internet connections in their room, and I’m very proactive about monitoring our home’s level of media saturation. But the fact remains, it was only 7:32 a.m.…and we were already soaked.
Just how media saturated is the average home in America?
Getting to the Truth
Nielson, Kaiser Foundation, Pew Internet, The American Academy of Pediatrics…they’re all doing research about media saturation and the effect of media in the lives of young people. Lucky for us, they all seem to basically agree with their conclusions. But the funny thing I’ve noticed is how newspapers, magazines and TV reports filter the data. After all, the news has to be interesting…even shocking, right?
Here’s how it usually works. One of these groups of experts will release a study followed by a press release. Journalists read the studies and write their opinions, quoting the numbers that leap off the page. The common folk begin reading these articles and listening to the findings on the Today Show as they get ready for work. Pastor Jones stands up on Sunday morning quoting the most shocking of those numbers, and at lunch that afternoon, a group of elderly ladies in a booth at the local diner say, “Did you hear that 98 percent of teenage girls are prostitutes and drink a gallon of alcohol per hour?”
So don’t pay any attention to those email “forwards” and don’t believe the gossip. Check your sources (I wrote about this in detail before). That’s why you will always see us link our sources, so you can 1.) know the validity of what you’re reading, and 2.) take a look at the research with your own eyes.
Here’s some of the latest research on media in the lives of young people.
How Saturated Are We?
This month, Pew Internets’ researcher Amanda Lenhart released a helpful little presentation about the Impact of Technology on the Lives of American Teens. (I told you we linked our sources!) In this little slideshow, Lenhart tries to cut through the hype and get straight to the facts about exactly how media saturated Americans are.
Here are some of the specifics you might find noteworthy from her study—a great summary about how plugged in teenagers are today:
• 93 percent of teenagers 12-17 are online—the largest percentage of any age group.
• Only 8 percent of families with teens have no computer, and only 4 percent of homes with computers don’t have access to Internet.
• 80 percent of teens 12-17 own a game console.
• 75 percent of all teens have a cell phone.
• A typical teen sends about 50 texts per day.
• Most teen cell phone users make 1-5 calls per day.
• 31 percent of teens who take their phones to school send text messages every day during class time.
• 73 percent of teens are on social Internet sites (like Facebook).
• Only 8 percent of teens use Twitter (compared to 37 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds—the largest percentage of any age group).
• 14 percent of teens now blog, compared to 28 percent in 2006.
• I encourage you to check out Amanda Lenhart’s slideshow on the subject. It’s ready-made for you, a great tool you can use to educate parents or leaders about media saturated teenagers today. Amanda is sharp, a trustworthy researcher (some of you might remember when I talked with her in December of 2009 regarding her study about sexting among minors).
As thorough as Amanda’s report was, it didn’t deal with the amount of time kids are actually simmering in front of the TV, the computer or listening to music. There are several good sources to find this data, the most thorough being the 2010 entertainment media consumption report from Kaiser. We already wrote quite a bit about this report when it was released, but here is a chart revealing exactly how many hours per day students are absorbing entertainment media in recent years, compared to the past:

According to this sobering report, kids are now soaking in 10 hours and 45 minutes per day of media in a mere 7 hours and 38 minutes. (This requires multitasking. In other words, they are listening to iTunes while browsing the web, all while the TV is on in the background.) You probably noticed that this is an increase of over two hours of daily entertainment media saturation since 2004.
Whenever I show this chart at my parenting workshops, parents are always surprised that kids spend more time watching TV than they do browsing the Internet. But the numbers don’t lie (I’ve blogged about this before), TV still rules the media war. For now, American Idol, Glee and Jersey Shore are still snaring more time from teenagers than Facebook is.
Our Response
So how do we respond to this kind of media saturation?
As parents, we should take the advice from the experts. The American Academy of Pediatrics released a report in August of 2010 titled Sexuality, Contraception and the Media. The doctors in this report shared some pretty shocking facts about the effects of media on young people. Here’s just a glimpse:
• More than 75 percent of prime-time programs contain sexual content.
• Only 14 percent of these incidents mention any risks or responsibilities of sexual activity.
• Talk about sex on TV can occur as often as 8 to 10 times per hour.
• Between 1997 and 2001 alone, the amount of sexual content on TV nearly doubled.
• Listening to sexually degrading lyrics is associated with earlier sexual intercourse.
• Out of nine longitudinal studies seeking to answer whether sexy media contributes to early sexual activity, seven of these studies have shown that exposure to sexual content in TV and other media in early adolescence can as much as double the risk of early sexual intercourse.
• Early exposure to sexual content doubled the risk of teen pregnancy.
• Bedroom TVs are associated with greater substance use and sexual activity by teenagers.
• Research is clear that parents need to take an active role in talking with their kids about media guidelines, and setting up realistic media guidelines. This report actually offers some great advice to parents, including limiting screen time, prohibiting media in bedrooms and “co-viewing” media with kids. (Jonathan discusses these guidelines and what they might look like in his book Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent.)
Where do you draw the line?
Do your kids have a TV in their bedrooms? Do you know what’s on their iPods? Like I said earlier this week in my blog about the connection between listening to pop music and depression, “The iPod is the window to the heart.”
On the proactive side: Have you made an effort to “co-view” programming with your kids? Have you tried using media as conversation jump-starters? Check out some of the resources we provide on our webpage to help you dialogue with young people about media. Parents, you can use our MOVIE REVIEWS & QUICK Q’s page to co-view films with your teenagers and then ask them questions at the end of the film. We provide you with our two cents about the film and some discussion questions to provoke conversation. Also consider using our MUSIC DISCUSSIONS page, using current songs to talk with your teenagers about important issues.
Youth workers, we provide the same resources, customized for a youth ministry setting on our youth ministry page www.TheSource4YM.com. Just use the FREE RESOURCES & IDEAS dropdown menu on the top left hand side of the page.
However you choose to do it, become familiar with the media your kids are immersed in daily. Talk with them about the content they are absorbing, and don’t be afraid to set media guidelines. Saying no—while not always popular—is usually pretty healthy. Too often, the parents at our parenting seminars are on the brink of throwing in the towel. Don’t do that; there are lots of tools at your disposal to help you help your teens make wholesome media choices.
We can’t give up because the only thing beyond “media saturation” is “media drowning.”