Reality Television at Blame

Posted on: 08/22/08 9:14 AM | by Jonathan McKee

There really isn’t all that much I can add to this Media Life Research article:

Reality television has already been blamed for many societal ills, from the dumbing-down of television to the rise of the faux celebrity culture (think “Surreal World” contestants). Is it also responsible for promoting promiscuity?

Yes, says a new study from the State University of New York at Buffalo, at least when it comes to online social networks. The study blames heavy reality TV consumption for the proliferation of “promiscuous friending,” or being more likely to engage in friendships with people with whom you have no off-line relationship. Heavy reality TV viewers have larger social networks than average and share more photos online. What’s more, heavy reality TV viewers may adapt personality traits associated with celebrities, such as sharing personal information with all those online friends. The researchers say reality TV even may be to blame for the erosion of the distinction between the everyday world and the celebrity world.  (click here for the entire article)

It’s always fun when I see research confirm my own observations.

(shout out to Anastasia at YPulse for the link)

Not Ashamed of a One Night Stand

Posted on: 06/30/08 1:42 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I guess energy drinks will try anything to market their product.

Not much to be said here… I’ll just quote the ad word for word:

“When you wake up ‘the morning after’ in a strange place, don’t be ashamed. Jump start your body and mind with the electrolytes and B-Vitamins in AMP Energy Relaunch…”


The racy video ad (warning, even though this ad has no nudity, it’s definitely raunchy) with it’s catchy tune and downloadable lyrics has gone viral. calls it how they see it:

By creating a funny, viral-worthy campaign to which most of us can relate, AMP has delivered a nifty piece of Marketing Inspiration.

With success of these kind of campaigns… you can bet we’ll be seeing more of them.


A Virtual “Pick Up Joint” for Teens

Posted on: 06/28/08 8:45 PM | by Jonathan McKee

A 13-year-old can’t go “clubbing” on Friday night… right?

Maybe a decade ago. But now, the sky’s the limit. Actually… there are very few limits at

Parents… brace yourselves.

I didn’t know much about this web site that provides a venue for 3-D chatting, virtual making out, and prancing around in skimpy clothes that Mommy and Daddy probably wouldn’t approve. I’d seen the ads for the site before, but never visited it.

After reading that IMVU has grown to 20 million users (the majority of which are teenagers), I figured it was time to check it out. Within three minutes of browsing the site, I knew we needed to write a Youth Culture Window on the subject. So that’s what we did. I had David investigate the site thoroughly and write up the article.

This past week David and I both have dove into this virtual world to “gave her a spin.” We were amazed with what we saw and experienced. Kids mingling with adults in ways so taboo… I can’t believe Dateline isn’t on the scene. In this 3-D pick up world, authenticity is nothing, looks are everything, and morals are nowhere to be found.

You’ll want to definitely read David’s full article here.

Holy “YouveBeenLeftBehind” Batman!

Posted on: 06/4/08 7:15 AM | by Jonathan McKee

In a world where only 16% of 16 to 29-year-old non-Christians express favorable view of Christians (Barna, 2007) , and only 3% of 16 to 29-year-old nonChristians express favorable views of evangelicals… we Christians should try to avoid doing stupid stuff like this!

Yes, this ridiculous website seems to be real: For just $40 a year, believers can arrange for up to 62 people to send a final message exactly six days after the Rapture.

Sigh. offers pretty good commentary about this. They think most nonbelievers will be too busy freaking the hell out to check their e-mail. But if they do log in, now they can be treated to some post-Rapture needling from their missing friends and loved ones, courtesy of web startup”

In the services overview section of their website they explain:

We have set up a system to send documents by the email, to the addresses you provide, 6 days after the “Rapture” of the Church. This occurs when 3 of our 5 team members scattered around the U.S fail to log in over a 3 day period. Another 3 days are given to fail safe any false triggering of the system.

Wow. My first thought is… whatever imbecile subscribes to this site doesn’t HAVE any unbelieving friends anyway! So who are they going to put on their list? (Probably family members that they have already repelled and alienated by condemning them their whole lives)

Hello people. Let’s model the “Christ” that gave us the name “Christians. Our actions speak volumes.

Authentic lives lead to authentic conversations.

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Connected but Isolated

Posted on: 05/30/08 5:12 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Today I am turning in a draft to my publisher for one of my new books (one that won’t be released until late 2009). The working title is “Connect” (just like my workshop of the same title), with the subtitle, “Engaging One-on-one Relationships in a World of Isolation.”

After spending a couple hours working on the book this morning, I glimpsed at my inbox and saw today’s update from Ypulse.  Anastasia linked a fascinating selection of photos by photographer Evan Baden of today’s young people seemingly mesmerized by the glow of their electronic devices.”

As I read the artist’s explanation of his project… I chuckled because it was almost word for word what I had just written about this generation. (I guess it’s becoming pretty obvious… huh?)

Baden writes (emphasis mine) …

In Westernized cultures today, there is a generation that is growing up without the knowledge of what it is to be disconnected. The world in which we are growing up is always on. We are continuously plugged in, and linked up. We take this technology for granted. Not because we are ungrateful, but because we simply don’t know a world without it.

From our earliest memories, there has always been a way to connect with others, whether it is Myspace, Facebook, cell phones, e-mail, or instant messenger. And now, with the Internet, instant messaging, and e-mail in our pocket, right there with our phones, we can always feel as if we are part of a greater whole. These devices grace us with the ability to instantly connect to others, and at the same time, they isolate us from those with whom we are connected. They allow for great freedom, yet so often, we are chained to them. They have become part of who we are and how we identify ourselves. These devices ordain us with a wealth of knowledge and communication that would have been unbelievable a generation ago. More and more, we are bathed in a silent, soft, and heavenly blue glow. It is as if we carry divinity in our pockets and purses.

Click here for entire the gallary of photos… amazing snapshots of this generation.

That discription about this generation just keeps emerging: Instantly Connected With Others… Yet Isolated from Those Whom We Are Connected.


Dear God

Posted on: 04/23/08 4:07 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I’m always intrigued by people’s conceptions of God. I have found that their expressions of these perceptions don’t necessarily reflect what someone truly believes, more what is convenient or easier to swallow. But they do give us a glimpse into their attitudes and feelings about God.

I guess that’s why this Dear God web site didn’t surprise me.

The Times Online describes the site as “new and achingly cool” allowing you to “petition the deity of your choosing with worries and requests and to read other people’s. Replies not guaranteed.” The site allows people to “share their inner-most hopes and fears with their version of God.”

How P.C.

Clicking there, you’ll find the prayers divided by topic. I was directed to a whole section full of prayers expressing doubt, even anger. Many of these reveal a porthole into the world of people that aren’t that excited about God. Take this email from Benjamin in Sydney Australia for example:

Dear GOD!Do you really expect me not to have sex with my girlfriend? Do you really expect me to not love my father for his sexual orientation? Do you real expect me not to have fun, not to drink and not to eat meat? Do you really expect me to surrender my whole life for you? Seriously god, you are not the center of the universe. Please stop taking over peoples lives. YOUR CREATED THEM – YOU DO NOT OWN THEM!!! Benjamin, Sydney/Australia


Nick Focuses on Virtual

Posted on: 04/3/08 10:15 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Virtual worlds are huge with kids today… and they are about to become even bigger.

Nick announced today that it’s developing an entire virtual world, “involving games, avatars and a strong social-networking component, based on network hit ‘Spongebob Squarepants.'”

What is a virtual world you ask? Our own David R. Smith in his recent Youth Culture Window article on virtual worlds defined them as “3 dimensional internet communities that couple the attraction of online social networking with the appeal of online gaming.”

Have you heard of Gaia Online? Club Penguin? Webkins (I’ve blogged about them)? Neopets? Nicktropolis? These are just a few examples of these online worlds where kids can create a character (avatar) and live in an online la-la land.

Are these just for kids? Nope. They’ve been around long enough that many of today’s younger teenagers have grown up with them. Ypulse‘s Anastasia listed virtual worlds first as one of the biggest trend with teenagers in 2007. Anastasia shares…

I have no doubt that virtual worlds, like Habbo Hotel, Zwinktopia, Gaia Online, There and MTV’s worlds have become a hit with millions of teenagers. I just don’t sense that it’s teens en masse quite yet. But I think eMarketer got it right when they predicted that “by 2011, 53% of them will be going virtual.” This year, the real explosion of virtual worlds happened for kids and tweens. Club Penguin and Webkinz can almost be seen as the mothers or fathers of the next wave of virtual worlds for kids.

Rueters reported today about Nick’s development of an entire virtual world and…

Nick also is expected to announce that it is developing Monkey World, a social-networking and massive multiplayer game based on an original concept and not tied to any of its existing franchises.

The network also will announce that it will increase the interactivity on its Neopets site through a new virtual world called World of Neopia, and will add a paid tier to Nicktropolis, the overarching virtual world that’s divided into sections based on Nick television shows and other properties. SpongeBob, Monkey World and Neopia also will have paid tiers when they launch next year.

Nicktropolis currently averages about 1.5 million visitors per month, and executives said the paid tier will preserve that traffic by charging only for additional features like personalization. The company declined to disclose pricing details for the new tier or say what it might charge for various virtual words, though it’s likely that pay tiers could be a key part of its revenue strategy.

It sounds like eMarker’s prediction of 53% of teenagers going virtual by 2011 might not be far off.



Mariah Carey “Touch My Body”

Posted on: 04/2/08 9:24 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Can you say eye candy?

Well, Mariah is at it again, selling what sells. And our kids are watching.

If you jump on (like our kids do) and look where your eyes lead you on the front page today they will drift to the video picks. The number one slot is filled with Mariah Carey’s “Touch My Body.”


 (I’m preparing you for my blog in the next few weeks where I will be addressing the issue of teens and their decisions about sex)

Stop at Nothing to Be the Best Bimbo

Posted on: 03/27/08 11:17 AM | by Jonathan McKee

“What do you want to be when you grow up Kelsey?”

“I want to be a bimbo!”

Where is this kind of thinking coming from? How about a new UK website aimed at girls 9-16 that gives users “bimbo dollars’ for plastic surgery, diet pills and risque nightclub outfits. Over 200,000 UK kids are playing the online game called “Miss Bimbo” (1.2 million played when it was released in France). CNN says, Girls are encouraged to compete against each other to become the “hottest, coolest, most famous bimbo in the whole world.”

I jumped on the site myself to check it out.  It’s not shy about it. It says right there on the front page: Even resort to meds or plastic surgery. Stop at nothing to become the reigning bimbo !

TimesOnline from across the pond reports:

A website that encourages girls as young as 9 to embrace plastic surgery and extreme dieting in the search for the perfect figure was condemned as lethal by parents’ groups and healthcare experts yesterday.

The Miss Bimbo internet game has attracted prepubescent girls who are told to buy their virtual characters breast enlargement surgery and to keep them “waif thin” with diet pills.

Healthcare professionals, a parents’ group and an organisation representing people suffering anorexia and bulimia criticised the website for sending a dangerous message to impressionable children.

In the month since it opened the site, which is aimed at girls aged from 9 to 16, has attracted 200,000 members. Players keep a constant watch on the weight, wardrobe, wealth and happiness of their character to create “the coolest, richest and most famous bimbo in the world”. Competing against other children they earn “bimbo dollars” to buy plastic surgery, diet pills, facelifts, lingerie and fashionable nightclub outfits.

The website sparked controversy when it was introduced in France, where it attracted 1.2 million players.
(ht to Anastasia for this link)

The game is under further investigation over fears that it encourages kids to spend real money texting, racking up big phone bills. reports:

Miss Bimbo is free to play, but players can earn in-game ‘dollars’ by sending in text messages which cost £1.50 a time.

Fox News also chimes in on the issue.

And here is an MSN video on the subject.


Inside the Mind of Tweens and Teens

Posted on: 03/24/08 8:29 AM | by Jonathan McKee

This week we’ve been researching the self esteem of young girls. David wrote an amazing peice of research in this week’s Youth Culture Window- take a peek at that if you haven’t seen it. (More on that later this week.)

But today I want you to take a look at an amazing blog that reveals the secrets of tweens and teens. Heartbreaking to read. is a site that already draws kids with it’s fun blogging about Miley Cyrus, the Jonas brothers, etc. But this site offers something unique to members: a place to share your secrets! And that feature provides an incredible window into the hurting souls of youth today. (Thanks to Marko for the link) 

Take a peek at some of the secrets kids posted on this page.

“well.. im going out wit a guy and everone knows it. but secretly we make out, etc..” 

“I’m so confussed i don’t know if i like guys, girls,or both.” 

“!~I want 2 have sex, but im 13~! i also wish i can tell all my friends bout da true way i feel about EVERYTHING but i no dey would criticize me cuz dey hav b4!”

“um when i was at my best freinds house i did “stuff” with her Boy freind. IN her room” 

“i have though about througing up a few times just to lose wheight 

“My secret is kinda wierd. I’m going out with this huy and i dont think hes that cute but he’s really nice” 

“i feel like im about to explode. my heart hurts. i want this guy so badly, but he’s not online, so i cant talk to him, and now he might not even come to my party. hes my friends friend, and i havnt talked to him since 1st grade, but i’ve been dreaming about him. i want to explode with anxiety, anger, dissapointment and love. i NEED a boyfriend.” 

“I want a boy to like me. not that freaky boy that already does, but a boy that I could like back.

“well. my boyfriend broke up with me becuz i didnt hug him 1 time and i feel stupid”

“I’m freaking fat! Omg I’ 13, but I’m 138 lbs! *sniffle*” 

“I wish my mom wouldn’t think I’m a perfect little angel… becuase I’m not!!”