Black Eyed Peas Go #1 Again

Posted on: 02/26/10 5:22 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Earlier this week I blogged a little about the Black Eyed Peas hit song Imma Be rapidly climbing the charts. As I wrote that blog, it was #1 on iTunes and #3 on Billboard. This morning as I sat in the airport waiting for my flight, I noticed that it just rose to #1 on Billboard Hot 100 now as well. That is the third song from this album to hit #1.

Imma Be is an interesting song. I won’t rehash my blog from earlier this week– I encourage you to check it out, especially the YouTube video I posted of three “tweens” dancing to the song and singing the lyrics… yes… even the foul lyrics.

But now I find it interesting once again to look at the Billboard Hot 100. Take a peek at merely the top 5 songs right now:

Wow. Do a quick Google search on the lyrics of those songs… you’ll be amazed what this generation is cherishing as the “top songs.”


Does the Internet Make Us Stupid?

Posted on: 02/24/10 4:00 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Does Google make us stupid? That particular question almost became viral when tech scholar and analyst Nicholas Carr wrote a cover story with that cover line for Atlantic Monthly Magazine in 2008. The Pew Research Center decided to do a study asking experts the validity of this claim and others. I think you’ll find the results intriguing.

Funny, last year my 15-year-old son asked me, “Dad, when you were a kid, what search engine did you use to…”

I interrupted him. “Alec, when I was a kid there WAS NO internet.”

His eyes grew as big as saucers. “What?!!”

After pondering how my son had possibly missed this fact for 15 years of his life, I continued. “Yes, when I was a kid, Al Gore hadn’t invented the internet yet. We actually had to go to libraries!”

It’s funny to think about life before the internet. I remember in the early 90’s when a buddy of mine first showed me this thing I had been hearing about called the World Wide Web. I remember the first time browsing AOL, searching “Alta Vista” and hearing a computerized voice declare, “You’ve got mail!”

Ah… those were the days.

So the question is: after almost two decades of the internet, are we smarter, or dumber?

The quick answer is “smarter,” according to new research from Pew Internet & American Life Project (I subscribe to their emails- The Pew Research Center does great surveys and studies). This web-based survey gathered opinions from prominent scientists, business leaders, consultants, writers and technology developers.

Here’s just a snippet from their findings:

  • Three out of four experts said our use of the Internet enhances and augments human intelligence
  • Two-thirds said use of the Internet has improved reading, writing and rendering of knowledge
  • Google won’t make us stupid: 76% of these experts agreed with the statement, “By 2020, people’s use of the Internet has enhanced human intelligence; as people are allowed unprecedented access to more information they become smarter and make better choices.”

You can read the whole summary here.

My two cents:
After hearing years of criticism of the internet, I found it interesting to hear the majority of these “experts” vote in favor of it.

I find it funny how some people seem to want to label the internet either all bad, or all good. This kind of polar thinking is nonsensical. That’s like proclaiming that all automobiles are bad when your child is struck by a car. Yes, people sometimes drive drunk and kill people. Used tires, hydrocarbons… I’m sure the list goes on. But next time you buy a basket of strawberries in Pennsylvania in January, ask yourself, “Where did this strawberry come from?” (Its journey involved a big diesel truck, I promise you) And consider families visiting each other across state lines. Or call a car bad when you need a 30 mile drive to a hospital, stat! Both good and bad has resulted from the invention of the automobile. 

Such is true with the internet. Sure, the internet offers plenty of ways for people to get into trouble. But personally, I can attest to doors God has opened to do incredible ministry through the internet. God has helped our ministry at provide free resources for parents and youth workers around the world for a decade now. If someone needs free youth ministry training, they can just click a button. We could not have done this ministry in 1980.

We get regular emails from across the globe of people who have used our free ministry resources to make an eternal impact in teenagers in their community. Think about that. I write a Bible study or a sermon and hit a button that says POST. Five minutes later a youth worker in the Philiippines downloads it and leads someone to Christ or helps a group of teenagers grow in their faith.

The internet brings both good and bad. And if you’ve been on my blog even a few times, you’ll see that I’m a huge advocate of helping parents teach discernment and create boundaries with the internet just like they would any other media source (I blogged about that just yesterday with the new #1 Black Eyed Peas song). But they can also use it for learning, building community and even growing spiritually. As I write this blog, my son is 12 feet from me on another computer logged into his youth group’s blog, adding comments to something his youth pastor shared with the group online.


Imma Be

Posted on: 02/22/10 3:36 PM | by Jonathan McKee

The video released last week, the song is at the top of the charts, and the words to the song… well… I’ll get to that in a minute.

Imma Be is the title of… no, not the new, just the recently popular, kinda-new… Black Eyed Peas song. As I write this, Imma Be is the #1 downloaded song on iTunes (yes, bigger than the new We are the World) and #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.

If you’re a youth worker or a parent and you’re not familiar with the band Black Eyed Peas, you might want to spend a few minutes getting to know them, because our teens and tweens know their songs, are familiar with the videos and don’t hesitate to spend money downloading either. The Black Eyed Peas are a constant on the music charts. Or as teenagers today would put it, “These guys own!”

Allow me to be more specific. In 2009 the pop group Black Eyed Peas owned the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart from April 12th to October 10th. Their song Boom Boom Pow owned it for three months, and then their song I’ve Gotta Feeling stepped up and began its reign for about three months. Combined, these 2 songs owned the #1 spot merely 2 days short of 6 straight months. Only 13 songs made it to the top of the charts in 2009, and of those, Black Eyed Peas’ two songs dominated half the year, leaving only 6 months for the other 11 songs. As to not repeat ourselves, I encourage you to take a look at David’s amazing summary of the top songs of 2009 on our Youth Culture Window page at the end of last year. That article will give you a deeper look at the Black Eyed Peas two #1 songs and their reign in 2009.

Now, from the same album (The E.N.D.), their song Imma Be is taking its turn riding the top of the charts.

The question that many might have is, “What is the content of this music?” Good question, a question youth workers and parents should be asking.

Black Eyed Peas have never shyed away from being risqué with front-person Fergie always showing off, and I quote, her “lovely lady lumps.” They have explicit versions, and “clean” versions of many of their songs. But I encourage you to take a deeper look at that definition of “clean.” I think you’ll find these “clean” versions about as clean as a PG-13 movie. Black Eyed Peas are great at placing plenty of sexual imagery in their “clean” material. Those of you who are new to my blog, you might want to check out my blog titled, “Look Mom, No Cuss Words! It Must Be Clean!” … where I unveiled a little bit about what you’ll see if you watch some of this group’s videos. (A little while later I blogged about some home-made videos that began emerging from this popular song.)

So what can we expect from their song Imma Be?

A quick Google search for the lyrics will tell you most of what you need to know. Here’s an excerpt… edited by me:

Rich baby, quick, quick, Imma, Imma, Imma be
The sh*t baby, check me out, be
Imma be, Imma be on top, never stop
Be, be, Imma, Imma be, Imma be, be, be

Imma, Imma be, Imma be f*ckin’ her
Imma, Imma, Imma be, Imma be, be, be, Imma be…

Do you get the idea?

But maybe the radio versions and videos edit out those cuss words… right? Yes, but this song is currently the #1 downloaded song on iTunes. What version do you think your kids are downloading?

I find that many teenagers will argue, “I don’t listen to the words.” Are they right? Do you think teens and tweens know the words to this song? Check out these three girls on the video they posted on YouTube. They know the words… and they obviously know when they’re saying something risqué. (The little girl with the glasses gives it away every time with a giggle.)

What about the official video? Black Eyed Peas debuted it last Wednesday. You’ll notice that it omits many of the cuss words, but doesn’t leave out lines like this:

Imma be a brother, but my name ain’t Lehman
Imma be ya bank, I be loaning out semen…

Gotta love censorship. “No cusswords! It must be clean!”

Keep your eyes on this band. Our kids have their eyes and ears glued to them.

Greg’s Cause

Posted on: 02/22/10 1:26 AM | by Jonathan McKee

The Great Commission… redefined.

Don’t worry… it’s not blasphemy. The words “The Great Commission” aren’t in the scriptures. That’s a term we came up with later… a term that isn’t really used by this generation.

That’s why Greg has labeled it, ‘The Cause.”

If you’ve been around me for a while, you’ve probably heard the name Greg Stier. Greg is a friend of mine who is passionate about evangelism. He started the organization Dare 2 Share about a decade ago, and since then has been equipping students to not only live out their faith, but be ready for real life conversations about Jesus.

A few weeks ago we launched another one of our free podcasts, Episode #34, this one another interview with Greg Stier (he’s been on several of our podcasts before). I listened to it recently (it’s been a while since we recorded it) and was laughing out loud! Greg is a lot of fun. In this conversation David, Greg and I talk about the Great Commission and what that really means! Greg labels it “The Cause.” He goes into details about the history of it, what it looks like in our lives, and more. Fun stuff!

I’ve been hearing tons of good feedback about it. I just received this email last week from one of our podcast listeners:

Jon (David and Greg);
I wish to let you know how thoroughly I enjoyed episode 34; you guys were great at uncovering some misconceptions and giving really practical and “paradigm shift” ideas for transformational evangelism in the lives [making it lifestyle, not just a focus once a year]of our students.  I am a big fan of The Source and everything you guys have been doing these past 10 years and have read and heard from Greg before, [from you and elsewhere] but, this one is a keeper.  I was one of the people who was eagerly listening and taking alot of notes (which I why I have only listened to it now — I wanted to give it the attention it deserved)
Thanks again for an excellent resource and for challenging the way its been done, yet keeping it simple and taking us back to basics.  Pass my thanks on to Greg 🙂

Patrick D Garrett
Youth Pastor @ Oakridge Bible Chapel

I agree with Patrick… that podcast episode #34 with Greg was really a fun conversation… a keeper, as he called it.  🙂

I encourage you to check it out too. You can always find out more about our current podcasts on our podcast page here(iPhone users… you can now access our podcasts directly without even using iTunes. Check out more about that here:

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MTV Sinks to New Lows

Posted on: 02/17/10 7:48 PM | by Jonathan McKee

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know my opinion of MTV. Just put MTV in the search box on my blog and see what you come up with.

MTV’s plans for a new show this summer only cements my opinion of them. The show, ‘Hard Times’ is about a young teen with a large… (how do I write this without sending everyone’s content blockers crazy???) … a large piece of anatomy in his trousers.

Yes. I’ll let this article from the LA Times fill you in. Here’s just a snippet:

Can a well-endowed teen make MTV hot again? The youth-obsessed cable network, seeking to stem a years-long ratings slide, thinks it has found just the thing to get back on track: “The Hard Times of RJ Berger,” a scripted comedy about a boy with an, um, anatomical “gift.” The show, billed as a cross between “The Wonder Years” and the R-rated comedy “Superbad,” is a raunchy coming-of-age tale about a nerdy teen who achieves notoriety among his high school peers when they discover that he has a rather large…

Yeah… you can read the rest of the story here.


Vandal Changes Atheist Billboard

Posted on: 02/16/10 7:39 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Okay… I know… vandalism is not cool.

But admittedly, I’m biased…

…and this was pretty funny.

Last week I posted a blog about some atheist and agnostic groups that have purchased billboards around my city and others. Today’s Sacramento Bee has an update on that story:

The billboard along Interstate 80 between Sacramento and Davis once read “Are you good without God? Millions are.”

But recently, somebody scaled the big sign and spray painted “also lost?” after “Millions are.”

“Millions are also lost?” Sorry… I shouldn’t laugh… but that’s funny.

(ht to Jengland)

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Abstinence-only Programs Might Work?

Posted on: 02/12/10 4:11 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Let’s be honest… the words abstinence-only aren’t very popular right now to the majority. Many people (today’s U.S. voters, for example) would dismiss anything that even bears that title. Too bad… because in the last month, I’ve read several articles about a new study where an abstinence-only program proved effective in its efforts to protect young people against unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

The debate is on, with heated responses from both sides. I’ve chimed in on the subject in my blog before with interesting bantar to immediately follow in the comments.

But it’s hard to deny facts. Look at these results as reported by the Washington Post last week:

Sex education classes that focus on encouraging children to remain abstinent can persuade a significant proportion to delay sexual activity, researchers reported Monday in a landmark study that could have major implications for U.S. efforts to protect young people against unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

Only about a third of sixth- and seventh-graders who completed an abstinence-focused program started having sex within the next two years, researchers found. Nearly half of the students who attended other classes, including ones that combined information about abstinence and contraception, became sexually active.

The article provides detailed results a little further down:

Over the next two years, about 33 percent of the students who went through the abstinence program started having sex, compared with about 52 percent who were taught only safe sex. About 42 percent of the students who went through the comprehensive program started having sex, and about 47 percent of those who learned about other ways to be healthy did.

The abstinence program had no negative effects on condom use, which has been a major criticism of the abstinence approach.

Pretty cool. I’d be curious to see more of these kinds of studies.

Parental Boundaries Work

Posted on: 02/11/10 9:25 AM | by Jonathan McKee

For the last few weeks you’ve been hearing me chime in quite a bit about the new Kaiser Family Foundation media consumption report (kids now average 7 hrs and 38 minutes a day consuming entertainment media). For the last two weeks we’ve seen articles on the subject popping up like prairie dogs. Earlier this week, USA TODAY’s Health & Behavior section featured one that I think is worth peeking at.

The article’s title says is well: Teens do better with parents who set limits. (Rather apropos, considering this week’s Youth Culture Window article on our web page, “Dad, Can I Download This Song?”) The USA TODAY article contends that parents who keep setting boundaries make a huge difference.

Some of the highlights:

…And it doesn’t stop with screen time. Other recent studies have found:

•Teens who had a bedtime of 10 p.m. or earlier, set by parents, got more sleep and were less likely to be depressed or consider suicide than those allowed to stay up past midnight. (The study was published in Sleep in January.)

•Teen drivers whose parents set and enforced rules were more likely to wear seat belts and less likely to speed, get in crashes, drink and drive, or use cellphones while driving. (That study was in Pediatrics in September.)

Teens whose parents set rules also smoke less, delay sex and do better in school, research shows.

“The reality is that teenagers care deeply what their parents think,” says Kenneth Ginsburg, author of the driving study and a specialist in adolescent medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “The challenge for parents is to get across rules and boundaries in a way that doesn’t feel controlling.”

In the driving study, as in many other studies, the most effective parents were those researchers call “authoritative.” They set firm rules but explain and enforce them in a warm, supportive way. Parents who set no rules, fail to enforce them or rule with a “because I said so” iron grip are less effective.

Click here for the entire article.

(ht to

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Atheist Billboards

Posted on: 02/10/10 11:14 AM | by Jonathan McKee

My Sacramento newspaper featured a story about some new billboards we are seeing around the city… atheist Billboards.

I guess they’re looking to recruit new members.

Here’s a snippet of the article:

A coalition of atheist and agnostic groups have bought billboard space to tell like-minded individuals they are not alone, but not in the godly sense.

Written on billboards are the words “Are you good without God? Millions are.” The message appears on a background of fluffy white clouds and blue sky.

The billboards are part of a nationwide campaign that began last year. Similar billboards went up in Seattle and Tampa Bay in January. Last year, they were seen in more than a dozen cities, including Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati and New York.

I think some people are really concerned about these billboards. I won’t say I’m happy about them… I think they’re sad. But am I concerned that atheists are taking over? Not even close. Remember… atheists make up less than 2% of the U.S. population right now. If that sounds low to you, read this blog I wrote last September where I covered the subject in depth and shared the data from several “religious landscape” surveys and studies.

I think a bigger concern to me would be those who aren’t atheists, but just are “not interested.” This group thinks God probably exists, but they are happy just doing their own thing. They are “not interested” in God or church. They’ve got other things to do! (I spend a whole chapter about this group in my new CONNECT book. I also devote an entire chapter to the “No Way” group, many which are atheists.)

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Teaching Discernment to Alyssa

Posted on: 02/8/10 9:55 AM | by Jonathan McKee

This week’s Youth Culture Window article is a little different than normal… it’s a story of my 14-year-old Alyssa asking me permission to download a song on iTunes. This situation wasn’t one of those ‘cut and dry’ easy decisions. You know… like when your kids ask you if they can download a Crowder song (“Duh, yes!”)… or when they ask you if they can download Beyonce’s Video Phone (“Duh, no!”). This was one of those instances that actually took “discernment.” (Dang… why isn’t parenting easier!)

This just happened last week, and I thought it would be a fun story to share with other parents. Here’s just a snippet of the article:

“Dad, can I download Down?”

That’s what my 14-year-old asked me this week, hoping to download the song from iTunes onto her iPod. If you’re a parent, you may have experienced a situation similar to this, seeing that 76% of 8-18 year-olds now own these mobile music devices (KFF, Generation M2, page 29).

During lunch that day, Alyssa had heard Jay Sean’s song “Down” play over the school’s PA system (because that’s what our public schools often do in CA). There’s little wonder why my daughter heard this song at school. Though it’s currently ranked #23 on Billboard’s Hot 100, this song by Jay Sean and Lil Wayne has been on the charts for 30 weeks and it peaked at #1. In other words, this tune has gotten some serious air time!  I heard it in the airport last weekend.

My kids have an agreement with my wife Lori and me that they must review the lyrics before downloading any song. We’ve been trying to teach them to use discernment with what they listen to because we all know that music truly affects actions. (Just last week David’s Youth Culture Window article cited the unique study performed by the University of Sussex about the affect of music on teenagers. That study made me want to “knock some pencils off the table” in my house to see what happens!)

So when Alyssa asked me if she could download the song, I offered her the same response I always give. “Did you look at the lyrics?”

She answered honestly, “Yeah, but I couldn’t tell if they were bad.”

You gotta love this situation! Here’s my daughter being a normal teenager who likes the sound of a song. She knows the process in our house and she comes to me genuinely seeking an answer of what’s right… or just hoping I’d say yes!

Here lies the struggle. In moments like these I can’t help but second guess myself. Alyssa is a great kid. Am I monitoring her too much? Should I back off and let her just download what she wants? After all, my rules seem a little more stringent than many other parents I know…even some of those in my church.

Do you ever wonder what to do in these situations?

 You can read the rest of the article here, or it’s featured in the big Youth Culture Window magnifying glass on the front page of our site,