Under-aged Texting

Posted on: 01/28/10 11:05 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Did you know that the average American teenager exchanges 3,146 text messages per month?

I get emails from Nielsen about their newest studies and research. This week they sent and interesting little tidbit from their 2009 research about texting. Nielsen is no joke. They analyze more than 40,000 mobile bills every month gathering data. Here’s a chart comparing the growth of texting over the past few years between kids under 12 (the blue line) and those age 13-17 (the red line).

In Nielsen’s 1/27/10 update, Roger Entner writes this:

The anecdotes documenting the love affair between teenagers and texting are countless. Many parents can attest that their offspring text rather than talk, even when they sit next to each other in the back of the car. Their children text in the morning before they brush their teeth and continue late into the night with the last text messages, also called SMS, sneaked in under the covers right before they close their eyes to sleep. Until now, there has been very little firm data available about how pervasive texting has actually become among the under-aged.

He goes on to break down the 3,146 messages per month that kids are using.

  • that’s more than 10 messages every hour of the month that they are not sleeping or in school
  • even the under 12 segment are sending 1,146 messages per month which is four text messages per waking hour that they are not in school

Read the whole report here.

Virginity Sells… Sex Sells

Posted on: 01/26/10 6:15 PM | by Jonathan McKee

On January 17th VH1 News presented a piece called “The New Virginity.” (You can catch some very amateur-captured glimpses of it all over YouTube) VH1’s website brags that the show “explores the roots of our current obsession with chastity–the stars who’ve made their virginity a major part of their public persona.”

You know- the Jonas Bros, Selena, Demi… VH1 seems to hint that their “purity pledges” will be short lived. They argue that stars want to keep their audience as they get older. The pattern that we see so far from artists like Britney is to be innocent, then slowly become more and more provocative.

This article about the VH1 show says it like this: “virginity may sell when you’re a teen, but sex sells when you’re an adult.”

The article goes on to present some polarized views:

Sexuality, not virginity, VH1 said, is the key to success for these soon-to-be adult stars like Cyrus and Gomez.

If purity rings and pledges aren’t practical for long-term Hollywood success, VH1 wasn’t any more positive about their value to even normal teens. If abstinence isn’t going to sell records or land you a TV show, don’t bother taking purity pledges, since they create “unrealistic expectations.” 

“There’s now an iPhone application,” said Jessica Valenti, author of “The Purity Myth,” “that’s a purity ring that you can have on your phone to show that you’re a virgin. I guess it’s actually kind of useful because once you lose your virginity – like most kids who take virginity pledges do – you can just trash it.”

Since teenagers can’t control themselves, Valenti said that “sexual education,” not abstinence, should be the focal point.

“Thirty-three percent of kids that take the pledge are more likely to initiate sex,” she said, “yet very few of them know anything about protection, so they’re less likely to actually use a condom and more likely to get an STD or get pregnant.”

That’s one way to read the statistics. Another way would be to note that the 33 percent is 8.8 percent less than the 42.4 percent of non-pledgers who initiate. And that pledgers are no less likely to use a condom when they do have sex.

VH1’s description of the show contends:

“In a world where tweens grow up too fast, a public declaration of chastity until marriage is a statement against the fast and furious life that many young stars succumb to, particularly those in the entertainment industry. But, as the show will point out, virginity doesn’t stop celebs from looking and acting provocatively–playing both sides with impressive marketing results. The stars aren’t the only ones caught up in virgin-mania. At Purity Balls across America, dads and daughters are living an abstinence fairy tale.”


A Christian Film in a Secular World

Posted on: 01/25/10 11:38 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Last weekend the Christian film To Save a Life was released in 441 theatres (compare that to Avatar in 3,141 theatres or The Tooth Fairy in 3,344 theatres) and got great responses from audiences. This film is proving to be a great tool for outreach! Over 200,000 people saw the film, bringing in 1.5 million at the box office.

Even though this film is only ranked #14 or #15 for all the movies this past weekend, the film managed to be the top “fan rated” film on Fandango.com and it was the #5 ranked film for per-screen average. Most importantly, students’ lives are being impacted by the film. One student shared on the film’s Facebook page that he unsuccessfully attempted suicide on Friday, went to the film that night, accepted Christ and wants to reach out to others.

If you haven’t seen this film… I really encourage you to see it this week. This is THE perfect film to bring your kids to. One of the best discussion provoking films I’ve seen in a while. We even wrote up a discussion starter on our web page using a clip from the film that you can watch right on our site- click here.

I’ve been hearing some great reactions from youth workers through this blog. Here’s a couple:

Took my students last night, Every single one of them came out and said, THAT MOVIE WAS AWESOME. I look forward to our next time together to take some time and to talk about some key points brought out in the movie. Hope people take this to heart and LOVE people as Christ Loved us. – Glen Johnson
I took my student leadership team to a screening of the movie. They completely loved it. When I asked them to describe it, one of them said: “That’s my life…that’s what it’s like for me at school.” They shared about the film on their campuses, and I have 65 students going tomorrow night… which includes 30 unchurched friends of our students. – Bill Connors

Here’s some other exciting things happening that you can see from the film’s Facebook page:
-Tons of messages about students saying they are going to reach out to people at school starting today.
-Stories of kids walking out of the theatre and turning to their friend to ask how to become a Christian.
-Several students have quoted, “I don’t know about you but I need to check out a church this weekend.”
-Students sharing how they connected with “Danny” the hypocritical pastor’s son and that they are going to make life changes to be a part of the movement of reaching the hurting and lonely.
-Business men seeing the film and then buying hundreds of tickets for teens to go for free.
-Churches giving people opportunities to sponsor students to go see the film.

I asked the writer, Jim Britts, if he had anything he would like to say to you all. He sent me this:

As a fellow youth pastor I really want to plead with you guys to back this film. If this film does not do really well in the next week we will start losing theatres and films like this will be much harder to be produced and taken seriously in the future. I’m not playing the “we’re all Christian’s card” but just see what teens are saying about this film and then act. It’s not a cheesy film and it was made for you to do better ministry. If the movie is already in your area please ask your senior pastor to see it and then endorse it publically for everyone in your church, take your whole youth ministry to see the film (before Friday) and then challenging them to invite their friends. If the film is not in your area then go to tosavealifeleaders.com to learn how you can bring it to your area and link up with other youth ministries to make it happen.

 I encourage you to go see the film this week. You won’t be disappointed.


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Media Consumption

Posted on: 01/22/10 4:46 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I thought I’d give you a sneak peek at our new Youth Culture Window article that will be featured on our front page all this coming week. We just put it up on the site.

As you heard from my last blog, the Kaiser Foundation just released their most recent media consumption report, and WOW!

If you didn’t see the report, David provides us with a great summary. Here’s a snippet:

According to the long awaited and highly anticipated Kaiser Family Foundation’s report entitled Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year-Olds, students between 7th and 12th grade spend 7 hours and 38 minutes every day (or 53.4 hours, weekly) taking in various forms of “entertainment media.”  

That’s more time than is required to drive from coast to coast. (Google it if you don’t believe me.) …

Every week, kids spend over 53 hours listening to music, surfing the web, watching TV, taking in a movie, thumbing through a magazine, playing video games, enjoying mobile apps on their cell phone…or all of the above…at the same time.

That’s right. Since kids tend to “media multitask” – for example, watching TV while listening to music at the same time – KFF inquired about that tendency, and found that kids actually cram a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes of different media into the span of 7 hours and 38 minutes!    

That’s like an all-you-can-eat media buffet!

Click here for the entire article

8-18 Year-olds Average 7 hrs 38 minutes Daily to Entertainment Media

Posted on: 01/20/10 11:17 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Yes, it’s true, 8-18 year-olds average 7 hrs and 38 minutes per day consuming entertainment media. Do those numbers sound high? They should. Because today’s average daily media consumption in the lives of 8-18 year-olds has increased by over an hour per day since the last study 5 years ago.

7 hours and 38 minutes is the brand new total released just TODAY from the Kaiser Family Foundation that you’ll be seeing quoted in reports everywhere for the next 5+ years. The report is called Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8-18-Year-Olds.

Five years ago Kaiser released their March 2005 report, Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year-olds. Since then, the Journal of Pediatrics, Pew Internet, CNN… EVERYONE… have used those numbers in their own reports about young people and media consumption.

Well… the new numbers are in. And media consumption is way up across the board. (Duh!)

This Sunday David and I will release our article with the summary of these findings in our weekly Youth Culture Window article. For those who want to get a sneak peak at the full Kaiser report, click here. Here’s some of what you’ll find:

Check out that increase in just the last 5 years!

Wow… kids are really reading that print-media, huh!  🙂

That’s just a snippet. You’ll also learn fun tidbits from the full report like the fact that cell phone talking and texting is NOT counted as media use (page 18, paragraph 2). That’s right, on top of the average of 7 hours and 38 minutes that young people spend per day in the above activities, there is also texting and talking on the phone.

  • 11-14 year olds spend an average of 1 hour and 13 minutes per day texting, and 36 minutes per day talking.
  • 15-18 year-olds spend an average of 1 hour and 51 minutes per day texting, and 43 minutes per day talking.

Add those numbers to 7 hours 38 minutes!

I’ve been looking forward to this report for a while now. Last week, Amanda Lenhart from Pew Internet told me that it was coming out today. (Another fascinating conversation… I had emailed her because I saw a report released from an organization I won’t name, a report that said that young people were spending 2.5 to 3.2 hours a day online. I read these reports all the time and that sounded high. A similar Nielsen report showed young people- depending on age- only spent a little over an hour per day. That’s an hour to two hours per day different! After examining both reports, I feared that this “un-named” organization was doing an internet survey. Think about that for a moment. “Let’s use the internet to poll people on the internet how often they are on the internet!”  🙂  Sure enough, my guess was correct. But I also emailed Amanda- I really respect her research– and asked her as a third party what she thought. She basically said, “Let’s see what Kaiser says next week!” Sure enough, this new report released today only reveals an average of 1 hour and 29 minutes of daily internet time.)

Again, we’ll give you the full summary next week on our Youth Culture Window page. But for those who have time, I really encourage you to read Kaiser’s full report. Just glimpse at some of their charts. Fascinating stuff about this young generation and their love for media.

The Writer of TO SAVE A LIFE responds…

Posted on: 01/19/10 3:52 PM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s funny how diverse believers can be in their reactions to different types of media. One person will love a movie and see it as a great tool for outreach; another will be totally offended.

Last year I screened the movie To Save a Life, opening in theatres this Friday. I really enjoyed the film- It’s going to be a great tool that youth leaders use for discussion. (We’ve already wrote up a peice of curriculum using a cliip from the film- check it out here, and gave away some of their youth curriculum kits here)

I blogged about it last September, giving a pretty detailed synopsis, and I received some fun comments in reply. But I also received this comment:

Where was Jesus mentioned once in this movie? And 3 curse words, one used twice. It is watered down, diluted faith and I can’t believe youth pastors are all thinking this is great. I took my 17 year old daughter to the movie and she thinks they went to far with the language and sensuality as well. Implied would have worked. Would you eat a 9×13 inch pan of delicious looking and smelling brownies if I told you it had 95% pure ingredients (finest chocolate, flour, an sugar you could buy) but had 5% dog poop in it? I would not eat it and I will not take my teens to see this movie!

Hmmmmm. (The brownie illustration again? Really?)

I commented back… then he replied, I commented again… the bantar was rather humorous (for me, anyway). I won’t paste our bantar- but you might want to check it out in the comment section of that blog.

Then I couldn’t help myself. I emailed Jim Britts, the screenwriter of the film and asked him to address the comment. Here’s Jim’s reply:

From the beginning we never set out to make a “Christian” movie that would cater to just a “church kid” audience. This film was made for the millions of teens that are not going to set foot in a church and for the courageous Christian teens who have a passion for reaching their friends with the love of Christ. The top two things unchurched young people think when they hear the word “Christian” are hypocrites and they just want to convert me. We intentionally made this film real (which meant including a couple cuss words-which I prayed over repeatedly) in order to earn the attention of teenagers and lower their guard against just being converted. The whole reason we did this is so they will be open to a conversation with a  Christian friend about the issues they related with from the film and how God could help them like He did in Jake’s life.
The film does not present the gospel because that’s our job. My prayer that it’s much less the youth pastor’s job and much more our students. Our ministry is preparing every student in how to lead their friends to Christ using the film and our prayer is they’ll be equipped and empowered to have more spiritual conversations this next spring because of this film than they’ve ever had before. What if we didn’t see this film as a threat to our Christian kids holiness (I bet they’ve already seen 10 times worse already) but instead an opportunity to challenge them to be more bold in their faith.
Jim Britts
Youth pastor, and screenwriter of To Save a Life

There you have it. No need to add to that.

I encourage you to go see the film this weekend and take a look for yourself. I think you’ll find it a very effective tool for Outreach.

10 Years of Free Resources

Posted on: 01/18/10 2:28 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I can hardly believe it, but 10 years ago today I sent out my first resource “EZINE” newsletter from my little website, back then, called JonathansResources.com

I used Alexa.com’s “Wayback” machine to look back at what our site looked like 10 years ago (pretty cool little tool). Here’s what it looked like:

Pretty cool huh?

You can actually get on that page and click around here. I love the little pics on the front page, the game page, etc. Wow… I hardly remember those.

Tomorrow I’m going to send out a “retro” EZINE to our subscribers… I’ll be sending them a copy of the first EZINE we ever sent. You can actually still see all those old EZINES on our ARTICLE ARCHIVES page from the ARTICLES & FREE TRAINING drop down menu of our current site at www.TheSource4YM.com … just get on that archives page and scroll to the bottom to our first article on January 18th 2000.

For those of you new to us, back in 2000 I worked for Youth for Christ and volunteered at my church. I started JonathansResources.com as a fun little hobby simply because I noticed that hardly anyone was providing truly free youth ministry resources on the internet for free. Some people had websites with a few freebies… but no sites dedicated to totally free youth minsitry resources. So I gave it a shot.

It grew to be such a hit, and at the same time my speaking and training was taking off, so in 2003 we started TheSource4YM.com and went full time speaking, training, and providing free resources on the net.

The rest is history!

The Book of Eli

Posted on: 01/15/10 7:34 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I got a chance to see a screening of the new Denzel movie, THE BOOK OF ELI, last night. Wow… probably one of the best films I’ve seen in the last decade.

The story is about a man on a journey through a post-nuclear world. The man’s name is Eli (played by none other than Denzel), and he’s carrying one of the most prized possessions of the times– a Bible.

It was amazing to see a film that truly represented the power of the Bible, and didn’t mock the guy who put his faith in it. This is probably one of the few films where being a follower of God’s Holy word is actually cool!

Denzel’s character Eli, was actually a noble guy too. He read his Bible daily, prayed, quoted scripture, and seemed to want to obey God’s will. I was waiting for him to go and do something stupid (like Hollywood usually does when portraying Christians). But Eli was not only noble, he was basically true to the Word (pacifists won’t agree– because he did defend himself to complete his mission). There were some great “discussion” moments including one scene where Eli talks about the importance of not just carrying the Bible, but following what’s in it.

The interesting aspect of this film was the motives behind people’s search for the Bible. Eli wanted to use it for good, where Oldman’s character wanted to use it to control people. True to life– some people have used God’s words with bad motives.

I warn you… some people won’t like the film’s violence. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a post-apocalyptic world, but never gratuitous.

That being said… great action flick. The film had some great fight scenes as Eli defended himself against attackers.

I go into more detail, including if the film is appropriate for kids, etc. in my official review on our MOVIE REVIEW PAGE .

The Words of a 12th Grade Christian

Posted on: 01/14/10 10:42 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Walt Mueller linked a great article today written by a senior in high school, speaking about her faith. The article is titled, “I’m a Christian, not a StereoType.”

WHAT FIRST COMES to mind when you think of Christians? They’re basically good people, but maybe a little confused, right?

That’s one of the kinder descriptions I’ve heard. The mental image is often unflattering, and public opinion rarely seems sympathetic. They’re killjoys, zealots, narrow-minded bigots. Whether presented as laughable stock characters or intolerant “fundies,” Christians today carry some unappealing stigmas.

But I am proud to say I am a Christian.

I have attended the same church since birth, and a Christian school since the age of 2. My grandfather was a pastor, my father is a Bible teacher and my mother is the principal of a Christian elementary school. But while this setting paints a predictable portrait, my circumstances do not make me a Christian. Rather, the cornerstone of my faith is my personal acceptance of Jesus Christ, which motivates me to live a life that pleases him. Not a single area of my life has been untouched by this decision…

Wow… great writing. Click here for the whole article. This would be a great peice to let your kids read and discuss.

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Getting my Butt Kicked in the Pool

Posted on: 01/12/10 6:25 PM | by Jonathan McKee

My wife is a stud!

Lori is a swimmer. She’s always been a swimmer. And the place where she regularly swims laps offered a free month to our whole family, so we signed up.

So last week, my whole family got in the pool with her to do laps. Guess how many I did before having to stop and rest?


Yeah… pathetic.

When I was in high school, I remember 10-lap warmups and then about 100 laps at any given practice. Fast forward 20-something years. I did just 10 laps that day.

Today I did 8 laps for my warmup before resting. I just had to beat 4. Then I did 20 laps total. Only 20 laps! What the heck!

Now… some of you might be thinking, “Jonathan, you’re a cheesy slob. Get in shape!” But allow me to retort. Lori and I try to bike or run 3 to 4 days a week. My runs are usually 5 miles, and my bike rides are 15 to 20. So why am I sinking in the pool?!!

Lori is biking, running, and doing 90-lap workouts in the pool.

Add to the humility… my kids all put me to shame. (I do not like the pool of shame!) Alyssa (my 14 year old) is doing 70 lap workouts with Lori. The other two are beating me on any given lap.

Wow. Swimming’s hard!

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