Monday, March 26, 2012

How Much Privacy Should Kids Have?

Privacy: How Much Should Kids Have?
Weekly Tip from the Love and Logic® Experts
Dr. Charles Fay,

Have you ever heard a parent say something like, "I don’t feel comfortable searching my daughter's room. I don't want to invade her privacy?"
Perhaps you know a child who is severely bent out of shape because their "Neanderthal" parents won't allow them to keep a computer in their bedroom.
Where do I stand on this issue?
  • It's our job to do our best to know what's going on in our children's lives.
  • It's our job to know what's in their rooms.
  • It's our job to do our best to know what they are doing on their computers and their phones.
  • It's our job to do our best to meet their friends and understand what they are involved in when they are hanging out.
  • When we do these things, we send the message that we love them enough to be involved in their lives.
Parents who do such things will likely hear, "You don't trust me!" If so, respond with the following:
We love you. Do you think we do these things to be nosey and obnoxious… or do we do these things because we love you and want to help you stay safe?

This question is not designed to change their mind. It's simply designed to plant a seed within it. When we consistently demonstrate love and concern…rather than a dictatorial attitude…this seed has a chance to grow.
As a society, we've lost far too many good kids to drugs, alcohol, pornography, suicide, video game addiction, etc., because we've been afraid of invading privacy. In our Teen Package you'll find a treasure chest of ideas for staying highly involved in your teen's life…without creating massive power-struggles and rebellion.
Thanks for reading! Our goal is to help as many families as possible. If this is a benefit, forward it to a friend.
Dr. Charles Fay

For books and resources to help you connect and communicate values to your kids check out our website at:

Al Menconi, Al Menconi Ministries, Parenting, Parenting help, Christian parenting, Christian parenting help, Parenting advice, Christian Parenting advice, Parenting tips, Christian parenting tips, Entertainment advice for parents, Entertainment advice, Christian conference speaker, Christian counselor, Keeping Kids Safe In the digital age, Keeping Kids Safe in the Internet age, The Christian Music Diet, It Doesn’t Affect Me.

Al Menconi Ministries Mission Statement:
Helping parents and leaders overcome the influence the entertainment media has on their families, motivate parents and leaders to connect with their children and teach parents and leaders how to communicate and model values to their children.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

How should I deal with The Hunger Games?

The following is my response to a mother who asked for my insight on The Hunger Games movie/book.  I thought you might find my response helpful.         
In His service, 
Al Menconi 

Dear Glenda,

I don't know the specifics of The Hunger Games movie, but I just read The Hunger Games book and thought it was fascinating.  I didn't see anything overtly anti-biblical, considering it is a story about children age 12 to 18 fighting to the death.  The basic story takes place 300 years in the future of North America, and after some unmentioned cataclysmic events there are 12 isolated districts ruled by The Capitol.  To keep the 12 outlying districts in submission, The Capitol makes the 12 districts each randomly select a boy and a girl to represent their district in a fight to the death in a huge jungle type of arena, hence the title of the Movie/book.  It is humbling and demeaning for the districts and a certain death sentence for the children.  

The whole event is broadcast live on TV and all the districts are forced to watch.  The Capitol is an elite class of people who are "fat and happy" and are only concerned about their personal enjoyment and entertainment.  It seems to be very symbolic of the fall of Rome and the decline of America.  

The heroine, Katniss, is a girl from district 12 who is "selected" to represent her district in the "Games."  She is so naive that she doesn't realize the boy who is selected to fight with her and the boy left at home in District 12 are both in love with her.  

I can give you more details, but I'm afraid that I would spoil the movie/book for you.  The books were  written for teens, but I can vouch first hand that they appeal to people of all ages.  This extremely popular series of books sold 18 million copies and was on the best seller lists forever. And I am certain this movie will be a MAJOR hit.  Some theater complexes showed Hunger Games on all their screens during the first week.  Every kid in America will want to see it.  Some are predicting these movies will be more popular than Twilight and maybe even Harry Potter.  


I just watched the movie to see if "Hollywood" would add immoral elements.  I am happy to say they didn't.  It closely follows the book and the only concern you should have is the theme. The actual killing was "off screen" or implied. They did a great job at interpreting the book. 

It was less violent than any killing or CSI autopsy on TV. I'm not going to recommend it simply because it isn't a Christian movie, but I didn't find anything offensive that is so common in the average PG-13 movie. No profanity! No sex, suggestive, or sexual situations. No on screen killing. So, if you aren't offended by the theme, you will love the movie. 

I thought the book and movie made a political statement about the "big government" imposing its will on its subjects with reckless abandon. It also made a strong statement against becoming a narcissistic and uncaring society. And finally, I believe the real theme of the story is "the only true way to win is to live for others." And "If you are right, be bold." 

This is much more of an honest love story than a story of killing. It is nothing like the Twilight series that is the most insidious "love story" in history.  "Do I love the vampire or do I love the werewolf?"  Gag me with a spoon.  You'll appreciate how the Hunger Games love story progresses as a question? Is this feeling really love?  Who knows what the future holds.  

I believe this film deserves to be a PG-13 movie because the storyline has 24 teens fighting to the death. But the producers kept their promise not to show the killing on screen.  Most of the deaths are implied and not shown graphically.  Sometimes what you don't see can be more dramatic than what is shown.  
I would attend with your mature children and discuss any issues that may come up.  I read the book for research, but it captured my attention from the first page and I enjoyed the story immensely.  The movie had my attention from the opening credits.  It is a unique setting, the writing was very engaging and I found myself caught up in the story.  I couldn't put the book down and read it in one day, as did my wife. 

It has been years since I became that involved in a novel.  I found the Harry Potter series slow and boring.  And the Twilight series has been like finger nails scraping on a chalkboard for me.  But The Hunger Games deserves to be the phenomenon that I am certain it will become.  

I cannot speak for books 2 or 3.  

Suggestion.  Don't fear it or fight it.  Your kids will want to see it. Don't make it an issue if they are mature teens.  If they don't have an interest, don't encourage it.  Just because the movie is rated PG-13 doesn't mean it is appropriate for immature children.  If you have any question, read the book and or attend the movie before you allow your children to attend. By taking the time to do this will show your children that you love them enough to take the time to evaluate it before giving permission.  

You will be under tremendous pressure so have your "ducks in a row" as this is one of those times when your children will be right when they say, "All my friends are going."  You should be informed and have a first hand perspective if you are not going to allow your children to attend or not.  It is the reasonable and loving thing to do.

Potential questions with children:
1. "How would you feel if you were chosen to fight to the death?  Why?"
2. "If you had to make a choice, who would you die for?"
3. "What was your favorite part of the story? Why?"
4. "Do you believe there is a deeper meaning to this movie? If so, what?"
5. "Who was your favorite character?  Why?"

Let me know if this is helpful. 

In His service and yours,

Al Menconi

For books and resources to help you connect and communicate values to your kids check out our website at:

Al Menconi, Al Menconi Ministries, Parenting, Parenting help, Christian parenting, Christian parenting help, Parenting advice, Christian Parenting advice, Parenting tips, Christian parenting tips,Entertainment advice for parents, Entertainment advice, Christianconference speaker, Christian counselor, Keeping Kids Safe In the digital age, Keeping Kids Safe in the Internet age, The Christian Music Diet, It Doesn’t Affect Me.

Al Menconi Ministries Mission Statement:
Helping parents and leaders overcome the influence the entertainment media has on their families, motivate parents and leaders to connect with their children and teach parents and leaders how to communicate and model values to their children.

Monday, March 5, 2012

If Alcohol in Movies Encourage Teens to Drink, Does Sex in Movies Encourage Teen to Become Sexually Active?

Want to keep your teen from becoming a drinker? Keep an eye on what movies she’s watching.  If you want to keep your teen from participating in early sexual activity, should you keep an eye on the movies your teen is watching?

Research published online Tuesday at finds a correlation between the amount of time a kid spends watching movie scenes that depict drinking and his likelihood to drink himself — and to engage in binge drinking. 
The study found that teens who saw the most on-screen alcohol use were twice as likely to start drinking themselves than those who had seen the least. And those heavy viewers were 63 percent more likely than those who’d seen less to move on to binge drinking.
Al Menconi Ministries question; if scenes of alcohol drinking in movies can encourage teens to drink earlier, do sex scenes in movies encourage teens to participate in sexual activity at an earlier age.  
Researchers interviewed more than 6,500 U.S. teens ages 10 to 14 four times over two years about a number of factors in their lives, including parental behaviors, peer interactions, their own rebellious attitudes and behaviors and the movies they’d watched.
Having tabulated the amount of screen time involving alcohol consumption in each of the 100 top box-office hit movies from the previous five years and 32 top-grossing movies from the year when the kids were first surveyed, the researchers determined that the typical kid had seen about 4.5 hours of such material. Some teens had seen more than 8 hours’ worth of on-screen drinking.
Other key factors associated with starting to drink in the first place included having parents who drank at home and having alcohol available to themselves at home.
Movie exposure to alcohol-drinking scenes, owning merchandise with alcohol brand names or logos, having friends who drank and personal rebelliousness were linked to both beginning to drink and moving to binge drinking.
The tally of alcohol movie moments included not only depictions of characters drinking but also instances of product placement. The authors suggest that perhaps regulating the uses of alcohol in movies could have an impact on teen drinking behaviors.
By   |  05:24 PM ET, 02/22/2012

Advertising's influence on children begins sooner than realize


Advertising's influence on children begins sooner than you may realize.

  • Children can begin to distinguish brands during their preschool years. Six-month-old babies can visualize corporate logos and mascots, according to the Center for a New American Dream. Brand loyalty begins as early as age 2. The average 3-year-old recognizes 100 different brand logos.
  • Toddlers cannot distinguish a commercial from a television show. The same is true for stories and puzzles versus an advertisement.
  • It isn’t until age 8 that kids begin to realize advertising can be untruthful or misleading.
  • As children take in multitudes of commercials, they learn to place worth in material possessions. As they grow, this materialism can contribute to discontentment, unhappy relationships and drug or alcohol abuse.
  • In 2000, $2 billion was spent on advertising to children in America. By 2008, that figure had increased to $15 billion. 1
  • One-third of young children have a television in their bedroom, as do two-thirds of pre-teens and teens. 2
  • In a study of more than 1,000 U.S. families, researchers found that 40 percent of 3-month-olds and 90 percent of kids aged 2 years old and younger regularly watch television, DVDs or videos. 3
  • Children greatly influence parental spending. In 2008, households were likely to spend up to $2 billion online for children’s toys, and an average of $172 per household. 4
  • According to advertisers, children under age 3 represent a $20 billion market. 5

Teens post ‘Am I ugly?’ videos on YouTube

San Francisco Chronicle, Posted February 20, 2012
A growing number of tweens and teens, mainly girls, are posting videos on YouTube asking commenters if they’re ugly, according to Jezebel.
Type ‘Am I ugly?’ or ‘Am I pretty’ into the YouTube search box and dozens of videos pop up, including one of an 11-year-old girl who poses for the camera, twirling her shoulders, smiling big, and pulling her long hair out of a pony tail.
“Hi guys,” she says. “I was doing a video because I’m bored and stuff. Do you guys think I’m pretty?”
“If you think I’m pretty comment down there,” she adds, pointing to the bottom of the screen. “I really don’t care but I just want you guys’s opinion.”
It’s heartbreaking to watch these young vulnerable kids share their most personal insecurities. One skinny 12-year-old girl says in a video, “I think I’m ugly and fat…so I just want to know what you think.”
And while some commenters tell the girls that they’re beautiful, many call them ugly and use lewd language. The cavalier meanness is heartbreaking.
“All black people look the same,” one commenter says to an African American girl who posts an “Am I ugly?” video.
“Just the fact that u did this video makes u ugly. But u were ugly already,” a viewer writes to a 14-year-old girl.
YouTube is the last place these kids should be going to for a confidence boost; the site is bound to make them only feel worse. A 12-year-old isn’t mature enough to deal with vicious remarks made by their mean-spirited peers and sick-minded Internet trolls, hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet. Adolescence is dark and savage and when teenagers put themselves up on the Internet it only magnifies the experience.
I only wish the online video site more closely monitored kids’ use. The site says it doesn’t allow kids under age 13 to upload videos so then why is there a video of an 11-year-old girl asking the world if she’s ugly? Where are this girl’s parents? Something is wrong with this picture.

Please take a minute to view the videos. It will break your heart.

A Miscarriage of Justice?

Dr. Michael Merzenich Feb 23, 2012 posted in his blog "On the Brain with Dr Michael Merzenich"

I was dismayed by the recent 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals rejection of a California law requiring that violent video games be labelled, with their purchase being limited to individuals over the age of 18. [You can read the court's Opinion by going to the 9th Circuit website.] What I most strongly objected to was the judges’ conclusion that no definite relationship has been established between violent games and the behavior of young game-players — arguing, in a sense, that what a child sees and does has no demonstrated negative impact on what that child IS. Judges Callahan, Kozinski and Thomas, be it known that this is equivalent, scientifically, to a rejection of Darwinism.
How can these judicial authorities (who above all others should have developed an understanding about the origins of aberrant human behaviors) NOT understand that the child’s culturally-driven brain plasticity underlies their operational abilities and experiences. Where do THEY think that personhood and the beliefs that guide it — or its empathy or its lack of empathy — COME from? Am we really supposed to believe that if a child who spends an hour or two or three a day playing a highly neurologically rewarding (by definition, brain-changing) video game that inures the brain to violence and inculcates amoral psychopathy has no measurable, detrimental impact on them or their brain?! Do judges really believe that our ethical judgments are inborne, or spring right up out of the thin air?
You don’t have to go further than the our military’s training commands to find fact-certain evidence that violent video games inure young men and women to the infliction of violence, and to the de-sensitization of a trainee to its occurences. How else could you so uniformly educate altruistic young individuals to voluntarily eradicate other natively altruistic young individuals? And if these video game-based training strategies are not effectively contributing to achieving the transformation of a young individual who is reluctant to commit violence to one who will do that willingly, why have they become such a central piece of training a modern soldier?
As for the lawyers who failed to make their case for the state of California, or the judges who are blind to the obvious, we’ll all pay a price for your incompetence, far into the future.
And for supporting the defense of selling intensive training in violence to children to their great profit, be it noted that Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Sony, and most of the companies producing violent video games paid the lawyers bills, through the manufacturers and distributors associations that they support. They are crowing about their victory, arguing that it’s all about ‘freedom’.
Stuff and utter nonsense.