The Lure of the Glowing Screen

Posted on: 06/3/13 3:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I’m going to bribe you for your input! (WINNERS posted below)

I’m really excited about the two new workshops I’m developing for SLC2013… and I’d love your feedback. (So much, in fact, that I’ll choose two people who comment in this post and give them each a free copy of any one of my books).

I’m really excited about this event. It’s Doug Fields Student Leadership Conference in three cities this summer. I’m speaking there, along with Doug, Josh Griffin, The Skit Guys, Jim Burns, Duffy… and more. It’s 48 hours of equipping students to better understand their role as leaders, helping them discover their gifts, explore their passion, and develop their potential leadership within their youth group.

As someone who is a big believer in ministry by teenagers, I’m a big fan of this conference and glad to be a small part of it.

I teach two workshops in the three cities—one for youth workers, and one for students.

For youth workers, I’ll be teaching this:

What iTunes Reveals About Today’s Teenagers:
If you want a true glimpse into the window of youth culture, just take a peek at what young people are downloading on their phones. Lucky for us, you have access to an ongoing meter revealing the top-selling entertainment-media at any given moment. I’m referring to iTunes, the online music, TV and movie store that comes on all these online devices at the top of our kids’ Christmas lists. In this session, we’ll take a peek at 5 observations about our culture and how much entertainment media affects our teens and tweens.

I’ll also be teaching students a brand new workshop I’ve been working on… and that’s where I’d love your input. Here’s the workshop title and description:

The Lure of the Glowing Screen
Facebook, iTunes, Texting, TV, Instagram, Movies… they all can be found in one single device that fits neatly into our pocket. It’s easy access. The average American spends 2 hours and 38 minutes a day staring at their phone’s screen alone. When you add a home TV, a laptop and a set of headphones to the mix, a typical teenager clocks in over 7 hours daily soaking in entertainment media. The question is… what are you soaking in… and how does this really affect you? In this seminar, learn how to steer clear of some of the common dangers young people are stumbling upon and how to use technology for good.

So I have two questions for you… feel free to respond to either, or both:

  1. What would you want your teenagers to specifically learn and take away from this workshop?
  2. How do you personally equip young people to steer clear of these common dangers, and be responsible with the phone in their pocket?

Chime in using my comment feature and get a chance at winning any one of my books, including my new More 10-Minute Talks, or Should I Just Smash My Kids Phone!

WINNER: Thanks to all of you for your comments! DCE Faith is the randomly chosen winner!

13 Replies to “The Lure of the Glowing Screen”

  1. 1. That it’s highly important to filter what they see/watch/hear not just content but time involved. I go to a chiropractor and his no. 1 complaint this year. Teens with bad necks from looking down at a screen so long!

    2. I set limits on use. But it’s still not enough. I also encourage teens to “engage” in each other without technology! Drives me crazy when they text each other and they are sitting next to each other.

  2. 1. I would like my teenagers to learn to stop for a moment and think about their values and boundaries before rushing to view a video or use/download an app just because it’s viral and “everybody else” is talking about it.
    2. I try to set a good example and ignore my phone completely when I am with a group of people. When we get home from gatherings, I try to point out what others missed while they were self-involved with their phones instead of interacting with the people that were around them.
    I’ve already warned my kids that they will not be spending their summer break glued to technology and we will be setting firm limits on how much time they spend with electronics.

  3. 1. I’d want my teenagers to learn and fully understand the privacy they surrender when they post every bit of their lives online. I’d want them to learn that not everything is always as it seems to be and that there is real danger lurking out there and that it doesn’t only happen to that kid in another state who “wasn’t careful like they are.” To learn what they’re giving up in personal social interaction in exchange for digital social interaction. That there is the possibility of real consequences (such as not getting a job you want down the road) because once you put something out there, you can’t take it back. That you can pour out your thoughts online and receive affirmation from your “friends” but that it’s not a substitute for seeking wise counsel from those more socially and spiritually mature than you, who want to see you grow in your relationship with the Lord and others. That the glowing screen appears to offer a degree of anonymity, but in reality it is as transparent as the glass you’re watching it through.
    2. For my own children, I remain logged into their accounts and monitor their posts, pins, tweets, and chats. They know that I am because its a requirement. Sometimes (very rarely) is it necessary for me to take immediate action and delete something before I contact them and have them do it. Moreover it gives us an opportunity to continually talk about what’s appropriate, acceptable in God’s eyes, and how things can be received by others. It also gives me an insight to things that are going on in their lives so I can stay involved in what’s relevant to them.
    For kids in the ministry, as well as my own, we equip them with the word and help them walk in a stronger relationship with Christ under the premise that the closer they are to Him, the more His likes are their likes, what offends Him offends them, etc. so that they’re ultimately able “test and approve what God’s will is” without the need of constant filtering by others.

  4. What would I want my teenagers to specifically learn and take away from this workshop? That we are to be stewards of our time. That if we strive to be more like Christ, we are to renew our minds daily. So what we put in there, is what will come out.

    There are many scripture we can pull from but to me Psalms 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.” speaks to what we should strive for. Realizing that we all mess up, make mistakes, but our hearts cry should be that what we meditate one, spend our time doing, thinking on, listening to, looking at be acceptable in Gods sight.

  5. I like the focus on discernment and how what we take in affects our spiritual lives.
    Most people (not just kids) assume because they didn’t experience immediate adverse effects when they watched/listened to certain things that there are no negative consequences.

  6. Teenagers brains are still growing and in psychology we had thought they were mature (except for experience) around 15-years-old. By being glued to their electronic devices, these teens are very probably changing how their brain functions and we don’t know what those changes are and if they are good changes that will let them process information more quickly or if these instant gratification machines are taking the brain space for some vital part of human functioning. As a teacher we used to say, “I can’t compete with Sesame Street.” Now teenagers and some children are doing radically different things with their brains.

    I understand that a large number of teens take their i-phones to bed with them. I imagine that they have learned to wake up for their phone tunes. We know that high school students need more sleep than had previously been thought. Instead of 8 hours of sleep, teens need more like 9-10 hours of sleep a night. That’s 9-10 hours of solid sleep, not waking up to answer texts and going back to sleep.

    When people are sleep deprived they make mistakes they would not be prone to making when well-rested.

    Then I’m concerned about youths’ ability to unplug and have face-to-face communication IRL, not SKYE or FaceTime. I have seen high school students get anxious because I ask them to put away their phones for the duration of the youth meeting (60 to 90 minutes). I don’t take the phones away, because I want the youth to learn self control.

  7. 1. I think it’s critical that studen leaders learn the importance of knowing/understanding that they need to filter what they SEE online because that’s what will or will not lead to them being successful in being able to filter what they put in their MINDS.
    2. The one major things that I’ve done with my youth boys recently is go through the EVERY YOUNG MAN’S BATTLE book/study. This study is an awesome resource that helps men young and old alike better understand how the things we see (online and in real-life) directly impacts what we think on and about. I suggest that every youth leader does this study with their youth boys as it can and will make them better prepared for the kinds of things you will be discussing with them.


  8. 1. I would like my teens to know that even if THEY “filter” what they are watching and listening to and don’t think it affects THEM to the core, their friends who don’t go to church don’t have that “Jesus Filter.” I’d like them to think about what they can do through this media (“Wow, that song talks about some really deep hurts, I’ve been there! I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have Jesus to lean on.” or “I like this show but they don’t show the full story…like how many STIs they end up with or how their actions with that random guy affect their next relationship.” I know that can be a lot to ask of kids, but I think we should help them get to a place where they can not only filter for themselves, but help their friends who have never met their Savior.

    2. Beyond teaching them how to recognize and make good decisions (and offering a lot of grace when they make mistakes), we use Covenant Eyes for accountability which helps for certain things. Not an end all, be all…but one tool that is helpful.

  9. I would like my teen to know that even though they are messaging on a screen, cyberspace is not a black hole; that there really is someone on the receiving end of their posts, and not necessarily who they might think!! They are responsible for what they send to anyone, and that anyone else can see it, even if they think it was sent as a personal message. In the case of Snap chat, what they think might be a 10 second image, can really linger forever when one of their “friends” takes a screen shot of the image and can now pass it around to who knows who. Not only are they responsible for what they write, but it actually can cost them a lot more than just humiliation. A coach of a prominent university told my daughter in a seminar she was conducting for possible recruits, that they have full time “scouters” who peruse the social media of perspective students. This particular student the coach referred to, was offered a large scholarship for their given sport, only to have it revoked because of something that was written on a social media network 2 YEARS prior!!! Unfortunately our teens don’t realize that their fellow teens are not their only audience. They must beware!

  10. What I would like teens to take away from this workshop is that they are a Masterpiece created by God and that what we do with the Masterpiece God created matters to not only God, of course, but to themselves and the world. I am reading John Burke’s book called “Mud and the Masterpiece” and the choices kids make with media are directly linked to how they see themselves. We can warn them over and over about he consequences of misusing media and their time but it seems to be falling on deaf ears.

    The approach I have always taken with kids over the past 25 years of ministry is helping them with their identity in Christ. If kids have a solid identity as God’s beloved child and coworker, then it seems that the things that come at them from media may pass by their eyes and ears, but their hearts are guarded. They choose to not let it “become” a part of who they are. It was helpful for me to read on page 73 of “Mud and the Masterpiece” that this idea of “identity focus” is most helpful! It says, “James March, political science professor at Stanford University, says when people make choices they rely on one of two models of decision making: the “consequences model”, which weighs the costs and benefits to maximize immediate satisfaction; or the “identity model”, which asks “What kind of person am I? What would someone like me do in this situation?”
    The consequences model can influence short-term decision making, but because identities are central to the way people make lasting decisions, any change effort that is not rooted in someone’s identity is likely doomed to failure…. If we are going to become life-giving people like Jesus, people who help others find faith, grow, and change, the question we need to ask is, How can we make change a matter of identity rather than a matter of consequences? How can we help people identify with what God intended when He created them?”
    Calling out the Masterpiece God created in each youth, helping them see goals and dreams for life that join in with God’s plan and will has been the approach helpful for me.
    In ministry with youth, they are challenged in this day by the glowing screen. I like your approach identifying that we, as God’s people, are a people that use the media for good, that is just a part of our identity! Thanks for what you do!

  11. I’m sure this has already been said and is pretty basic but we are still trying to teach our students to “be present when others are present” fully engaged with those around them.

  12. 1. Luke 6:45 ….for the mouth speaks what the heart is full of
    Proverbs 18:21…tongue directs your path
    What you watch/listen to/see for 7 hours a day will direct your future.

    2. Use a different web browsing app that tracts every website they go to, and can send a report to the guardian. Set up restrictions on ipods and mobile devices. Wireless router at home on a time schedule. Iphone may be able to do this as well???

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