Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Video Game Encouraging Rape Goes Viral

I just found a video report that presents a situation I didn’t believe was possible. Online video games that encourage the player to rape innocent women are becoming popular. You need to watch this report from CNN. Being forewarned is being forearmed. This video is not too graphic, but it is very informative. Watch it at this link:

http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/03/30/japan.video.game.rape/

Monday, March 15, 2010

The following article is about young people in the United Kingdom, but the situation is similar to the pressures our children experience daily. Please pass it on to your friends and use it as a reminder to pray for your children.
Reprinted from the:
National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families eBrief, Vol. 1 Issue 93, 3/11/2010
The absurd notion that pornography is just “harmless fun” has suffered a couple of setbacks in the past few weeks. According to press reports in the United Kingdom, the complete rejection of that belief cannot happen soon enough.

The British newspaper Daily Mail, in its digital Mail Online, reported in their recent article “Teen boys watching hours of internet pornography every week are treating their girlfriends like sex objects”* (3/8/10) that teenage girls in London have themselves revived the concept of a chaperone for protection from the sexual demands of boyfriends who are growing up on porn.

According to teens and experts, the pervasiveness of online pornography is quite literally changing young men into sexual predators, leaving young women seeking refuge—tearfully, in some cases—in a Jane Austen-like manner and desperately desiring their parents’ guidance.

“I wish my parents would say I'm not allowed to be home alone with a boy,” one sixteen-year-old told the Daily Mail. “I wish they'd say boys aren't allowed in my bedroom. They make this big deal about ‘trusting us,’ but that's not helping me. They have no idea what goes on, and I'm too embarrassed to tell them.” In a similar vein, the article reports that only 37% of parents in the U.K. have activated parental controls on their teenager’s electronic devices.

This article followed the BBC’s coverage of a U.K. government report recommending new regulations to stem the tide of sexualized imagery accessible to children. The report recognizes that the sexualization of adolescence is having a devastating effect on young people, and proposes tougher regulations on advertising and magazine sales, as well as requiring mobile phones and gaming systems to have parental controls on by default.

The clear lesson of these reports from “across the pond” is that parents need to engage with their children, talk to them about sex and our consumer culture’s sexualized messages, and demonstrate their love by setting appropriate boundaries and activating parental controls on computers, phones, and gaming consoles. Additionally, parents should consider installing filtering software to further protect their children and families.

If you are considering a filtering software, Al Menconi Ministries recommends Safe Eyes.

*A direct link to this article is not provided because it contains a nude image.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Parents are losing ground with kids technology

Technology use up in kids, parents losing ground

Study: Kids consume more than 7 hours of media a day

By LEANNE ITALIE - Associated Press | Posted: Sunday, January 24, 2010 12:00 am

Like many working parents, Beverly Flaxington armed her daughter with a cell phone in fifth grade, when the time came for her to venture out alone. At first, it was a great way to stay in touch.

That was then.

Now 13, Samantha's grades have slipped drastically and she's obsessed with texting, Facebook and her laptop, sometimes falling asleep in her clothes clutching her phone. When her texting exceeded 2,000 messages a day, her parents shut off the function from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. on school nights, and Sam "just went nuts."

"She slammed doors. She accused us of being overly conservative when all of her friends are able to do things at night," said the mom in Walpole, Mass. "She didn't speak to me for three days. She broke things. You're left with the choice of do I make her a leper because she's not a part of this or do I just spend all of my time fighting."

Smartphones, MP3 players, laptops and other devices are the air kids breathe ---- perhaps too deeply, judging from a new study that shows children ages 8 to 18 devote an average of seven hours and 38 minutes a day consuming some form of media for fun. That's an hour and 17 minutes more than they did five years ago, said the study's sponsor, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. And they're champion multitaskers, packing content on top of content for an even heavier onslaught.

"This is a game changer," co-author Donald Roberts said during a panel discussion when the survey of 2,002 young people was released Wednesday. "We're really close to kids being online 24/7."

Kids, the survey showed, now spend more time listening to music, playing games and watching TV on their cell phones than talking on them. Perhaps more surprising: Only about 3 in 10 said their parents have rules about how much time they can spend watching TV or playing video games.

Not all parents consider all that time spent on technology a bad thing. Craig Kaminer's 19-year-old and 16-year-old boys have laptops, high-speed Internet connections, Xbox, HDTV, iPhones, video chat, iPods, GPSes, DirectTV with DVR, Kindles and digital cameras.

"They're connected to the Internet, each other and us from the second they wake up until they go to sleep," said Kaminer, of St. Louis. "In general, they're very grounded and handle the balance well."

Others, though, find balance elusive. Things changed for Betsy Tant in Knoxville, Tenn., when her 11-year-old daughter received an iTouch for Christmas.

"She's obsessed with it all of a sudden," said Tant, 40. "That really caught me off guard. She's had a computer for a while, but now she wants to check her e-mail all the time. We've had to set limits."

Tant considers herself an exception in the limit-setting department, refusing to provide her daughter text service, for instance. Many parents she knows don't bother.

"It gets them out of their hair, I think," she said.

With so much temptation ---- Internet-equipped mobile devices, better home connectivity, video gaming online and off, social media and TV-like content on any device ---- many parents say schoolwork is suffering.

The researchers warned that further study is required to link media use with any impact on the health of young people or their grades. But 47 percent of heavy media users among those surveyed said they earn mostly Cs or lower, compared with 23 percent of light users. The study classified heavy users as consuming more than 16 hours a day and light users as less than three hours.

Flaxington, 49, learned in November that her teen went weeks without turning in homework in math and other subjects, so they arranged for her to complete assignments at the end of the day at school, where cell phones are banned and computers weren't available.

"It was impossible to get her to focus at home," Flaxington said.

Dr. Russell Hyken, a therapist who specializes in tweens and teens, is seeing a growing number of young patients with obsessive interest in gaming and computers, including a high school junior who took to urinating in a bottle while playing online and a college kid who shaved his head to save time on hair washing in the shower so he could return to the computer more quickly.

Both, he said, were sent to residential treatment programs for those and related problems.

"It's almost an obsessive-compulsive desire to be the best. One client had to be in the top five scores on a Web site at which half a million people were playing," Hyken said. "They're using it as a way to escape reality."

Marci Gerwe in Nashville, Tenn., considers herself among the lucky: Her boys, ages 13 and 15, abide by family rules. No laptops after 10 p.m. No video games during the week unless they're exercising at the same time. And absolutely no texting during meals.

Still, she says she has watched their habits change dramatically in the last two years.

"With texting and Facebook, I'm seeing there's a whole loss of ability to interact or talk on a more personal level, especially for my older one," she said. "There's a lot of confusion over what people mean."

And many parents report less than stellar success with imposing restrictions on mobile devices and computers. Young people are ingenious in finding ways around them.

Beth Shumate, who lives near Dallas, said her 13-year-old and 15-year-old boys are so obsessed with the massive online quest game RuneScape that she locks the laptop, keyboard and mouse in her car at night. Before she took that step, "I caught my 13-year-old playing it at 5:30 in the morning."

Hyken said there's no way around the need for parents to take charge. He suggests setting up a central location far from bedrooms at night to plug in all devices, and holding firm on no TV or computer use after certain hours, with absolutely none during meals. Encourage extracurricular activities away from home, where use of mobile devices would be impossible, such as sports.

"It's never too late to start but much harder when they're 15 or 16," he said. "If a kid is making good grades and is in some extracurricular activity or working part-time, and they're nice to their parents, you've won the game."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The following is my response to a concerned mother of adult aged children, one of which is 21 and living an immoral lifestyle while away at college. This mother was concerned her husband, whom she is in the process of divorcing, continues to pay to support their son's tuition and living expenses even though he is not doing well in college. This mother believes his negative attitude and lifestyle are because he "plays World of Warcraft every waking moment." There were many other issues and I felt completely inadequate to counsel her. I am posting my response to her because some of what I said to her may be helpful in your situation. Let me know.
In His,

Al
MY RESPONSE IS BELOW:

Dear (name withheld),
I am so sorry to hear about your family situation with your husband and middle child. Before I respond to your questions, I would like to encourage you and your husband to do everything possible to reconcile. Don't allow your son to destroy your marriage. Decide that your number one priority is to save your marriage, not to bring your child under control.

As for your son, he is 21! Officially he is an adult. Some day you will have to turn him over to God. Why not make it today? He has to be responsible for his own actions, no matter how painful they are for you to watch. Life is a series of choices, choices have consequences. He has to experience the consequences of his choices.

It is NOT up to you to MAKE your children live for Jesus. The best thing you can do for your family is to let them see God's love, mercy, and grace in your life. It is up to the Holy Spirit to come along side of them and to encourage them to decide to live for Jesus. You job is to give your children a clear picture of Jesus. When you can't get along with your husband, you are telling your children your God isn't strong enough to keep their parents together. That's not true. Jesus was not a doormat, but He didn't demand His own way either. I don't know your family dynamics so it is difficult to be more specific.

I suggest that you have few, flexible, but firm guidelines for your son if and when he comes home. He either chooses to follow your loving direction or he is free to live as he pleases. It is your home. He needs to know that your love for him is unconditional, but any family and/or business needs to have simple operating procedures. You decide what is acceptable. Don't make it a combative situation. If it already has become combative, do your best to defuse that situation. I would encourage your ex to get involved to help you set guidelines and to enforce them.

I suggest:
Make prayer your top priority.
Make reconciliation with your husband a close second.

Pray that God will use this situation to make you the mother and wife He called you to be.
Pray you will have unconditional love for your husband and children.
Pray for wisdom to grow through this difficult situation.

You and all your children decide what would be fair and reasonable guidelines for living under your roof. Make certain that you are not punitive but make certain you will be comfortable with the final guidelines. It is YOUR HOME! Discuss the consequences for disregarding your guidelines. I suggest a warning for first offense, a financial consequence for a second "defying" your authority offense. A third defying offense will be a frank discussion if your children still want to live under your roof.

If your children continue to defy your authority - no matter their age - they are in control, not you.

As for W.O.W; it's not specifically evil, but your son is demonstrating that he is addicted to the game. He is choosing to "hide" in his game and not function as a normal healthy adult. That's his choice, but you don't have to have it in your home if it concerns you. I suggest encouraging him to get addiction counseling help as part of the guidelines for him to live in your home. Make certain he doesn't think you are "throwing him out" because he plays a game or missed Christmas. Your are giving him a choice to do what is best for his future or choose to live a destructive lifestyle.
If you don't want W.O.W. in your home, it's your home. Let me know what you decide. I care.
In His service and yours,
Al Menconi

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

This article from USATODAY.com will help you understand how technology is affecting our children. It's worth reading.
http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2010-02-10-igeneration10_CV_N.htm

Saturday, March 6, 2010

You've heard of sexting, the youthful fad with kids sending nude pictures to each other, but you need to read this article posted on MTV to really understand the consequences of this behavior. After you read the attached article, ask your kids to read it. It could lead to meaningful conversations. Let me know what you think.

http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1631891/20100212/story.jhtml

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What Should We Do When We Don't Agree About Guidelines?

After a recent parenting seminar, a young mother asked me a question I am asked at nearly every seminar. It is always a mother asking the question and never the father. (I’m not being sexist, but no father has ever asked me this question). She asked, “I really appreciate what you taught and that’s what I have been trying to do in my home, but my husband won’t support me in setting entertainment guidelines for our home. What should I do?”

I asked, “Does your husband know exactly how you feel about this issue?”

“Yes he does!” Looking at me like she found an ally in her battle to get her husband to straighten up and fly right.

“Then if you say it again, he will see it as nagging.” I responded. You could see her shoulders sag as she realized I was right.

How about you? What should you do if your spouse doesn’t agree with you about your family’s entertainment choices?

Here are a couple of basics to remember if you are experiencing a similar situation in your home. Number one, getting your way about entertainment guidelines is not worth destroying your relationship with your spouse.

Number two, don’ t let the resentment build up until all you can think about is that your spouse’s lack of support on this issue is all you can think about. That will destroy any relationship. I have seen it happen many times in my years of ministry.

You can’t present two sets of guidelines – one when Mother is around, and another when Dad is home. The Bible is clear in warning us, “…a house divided against itself will not survive…” (Matt 6:24). Keeping a strong marriage is more important than changing your child’s entertainment choices.

You need to find where you and your spouse can agree and present one unified front. It is more important that your children see their parents unified than keeping your son away from video games or R-rated movies.

I suggest you talk with your spouse and say something like, “I love you and that is not in question, but I am concerned about the type of games little Johnnie is playing.” (It’s important that you are specific with your concern. “Certain types of games” or “the amount of time” are legitimate concerns. “The awful games Johnnie plays all the time” is almost starting an argument). And then continue, “I know you might not see anything wrong with it, but will you support me on this issue?”

“I am concerned about his behavior in school, his grades, his attitude.” (Again, be specific with your concern). Your spouse isn’t a heartless or mean-spirited or you wouldn’t have married him/her in the first place. Appeal to a reasonable spirit and moral values. You will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

1. Remind your spouse that you still love him/her, even if the two of you don’t agree.

2. Be specific with your concern.

3. Have reasons why you are concerned.

4. It goes without saying you should have already committed this matter to prayer before confronting your child or your spouse.

Let me know if this helps your situation.