Monday, April 23, 2012

3 Big Rules Your Kids May Be Breaking Online


For those of us who grew up with dial-up modems, it can be hard to understand what the digital age is like for today's kids. Access to information is literally at their fingertips. But easy access reduces the time it takes to think through your actions -- and makes it easier to do not-so-great things. Like copying other people's work and calling it your own. Or downloading copyrighted music or movies illegally. And the list goes on. Part of the problem is that kids may not even realize that what they're doing is illegal. Here are the top three online offenses -- and how to make sure your kid's online activities stay on the safe side.
Plagiarism and high-tech cheating
What it is: Copying someone else's work and calling it your own. In Common Sense Media's2009 study of high-tech cheating among kids 13-17, 38 percent said they'd copied text from the web to pass off as their work. And more than 35 percent said they'd used their cell phones to cheat.
What's the big deal? Cheating is cheating, no matter whether it happens by text or a scrap of paper passed under a desk. Kids caught plagiarizing or cheating can face serious consequences at school and at home. And, most importantly, they're losing out on learning opportunities.
How to talk about it with your kid: Kids are so used to cutting and pasting; sharing links, photos, and text; and mixing it all up to create their own material that many don't think it's a problem to use stuff they find online in their own work. Make sure they understand that when they use something from the Internet, they have to credit the source -- it's never OK to copy something without saying where you got it. Talk to teachers or the school principal about getting kids up to speed on proper source citation and an understanding of "fair use."
Also, if kids do know they're cheating, try to determine whether there's an underlying cause you can correct. Are they spending too much time on Facebook and don't have enough time to complete homework properly? Or are teachers giving busywork that kids don't think is worth their time?
Illegal downloads and uploads
What it is: Downloading or uploading copyrighted material like movies, TV episodes, or music through murky sources like Pirate Bay and BitTorrent. Though kids got a big scare several years ago when music labels started busting individual downloaders -- including some teens -- many don't think it's a serious problem. According to a 2008 Microsoft survey of teen attitudes toward illegal downloading, 48 percent of kids thought punishment wasn't appropriate for illegally downloading copyrighted material.
What's the big deal? Not only is downloading and uploading copyrighted material unethical, it's also illegal. Under U.S. law, offenders can be punished with up to five years in jail and $250,000 in fines. And it's not as if no one is watching: Large data transfers can send up a red flag to your Internet Service Provider. The company will contact you or turn off your Internet service if the amount of data going to your home computer appears suspicious.
How to talk about it with your kid: Yes, lots of teens and adults download movies and music illegally, and a lot don't get caught. It's super easy to do, and sometimes it's easier to get what you want illegally than it is to actually pay for it. But you can remind kids that somebody worked hard to create that song or that movie, and if they want to support their favorite artists or actors, they should respect their work. It's getting easier and cheaper to find music and other media legally, so do a little research together to find the best sources for enjoying favorite titles guilt-free.
As for uploading -- there's a reason why Facebook is a multibillion-dollar company: Kids love sharing their favorite stuff. But it's important to teach kids the difference between copyright infringement and "fair use." It's OK to use a portion of copyrighted material as part of a legitimate critique or a unique artistic endeavor that "transforms" the original work; it's not OK to upload someone else's copyrighted video or song in its entirety. Also, ask kids to weigh their desire to share something with their belief in fairness and honesty.
Underage social media
What it is: Lying about your age to get an account with Facebook or another social media site whose Terms of Service require users to be a certain age (usually 13) to join. Last year,Consumer Reports said there were 7.5 million Facebook users under 13. And a report released in 2011 by Microsoft said that 7 in 10 parents of underage Facebook users help their kids set up the accounts.
What's the big deal? While it's not illegal, lying about your age does violate the Terms of Service agreement users must agree to when they sign up. And when parents help kids lie online, they're setting a poor example about good digital behavior. What's more, kids' privacy is at stake. Information that kids share on Facebook is used to target them with advertising that they might be too young to recognize for what it is.
How to talk about it with your kid: First, make sure you understand the reasons behind the age restrictions on sites like Facebook. Many parents believe the "no kids" rule is because the content on social networks can be too mature for kids. But the real reason for these age-based rules is because companies that allow underage kids to sign up are legally restricted from collecting certain information from them. Rather than create a more private environment for kids, Facebook and others choose to restrict access to those under 13.
When many of your kid's friends are on Facebook, talking about "privacy" can be a hard sell. Pointing kids toward more age-appropriate sites -- like WhatWhats.me and Imbee -- can work, as can talking to other parents about their own rules around social networking. While kids might be upset when you tell them they can't join Facebook for a few more years, just think of the favor you're doing them by deferring social networking drama until they're more prepared to handle it.

Monday, April 9, 2012

This is the Summary of findings: from their recent research about Teens, Smartphones & Texting

Published by Amanda Lenhart, Senior Research Specialist, Pew Internet Project, PewResearchCenter March 19, 2012
For the full report:  http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Teens-and-smartphones.aspx 
The volume of texting among teens has risen from 50 texts a day in 2009 to 60 texts for the median teen text user. Older teens, boys, and blacks are leading the increase. Texting is the dominant daily mode of communication between teens and all those with whom they communicate.
The typical American teen is sending and receiving a greater number of texts than in 2009. Overall, 75% of all teens text. Here are the key findings about the role of texting in teens’ lives:
  ·  The median number of texts (i.e. the midpoint user in our sample) sent on a typical day by teens 12-17 rose from 50 in 2009 to 60 in 2011.
 ·  Much of this increase occurred among older teens ages 14-17, who went from a median of 60 texts a day to a median of 100 two years later. Boys of all ages also increased their texting volume from a median of 30 texts daily in 2009 to 50 texts in 2011. Black teens showed an increase of a median of 60 texts per day to 80.
 ·  Older girls remain the most enthusiastic texters, with a median of 100 texts a day in 2011, compared with 50 for boys the same age.
·  63% of all teens say they exchange text messages every day with people in their lives. This far surpasses the frequency with which they pick other forms of daily communication, including phone calling by cell phone (39% do that with others every day), face-to-face socializing outside of school (35%), social network site messaging (29%), instant messaging (22%), talking on landlines (19%) and emailing (6%).
The frequency of teens’ phone chatter with friends – on cell phones and landlines – has fallen. But the heaviest texters are also the heaviest talkers with their friends.
  • Teens’ phone conversations with friends are slipping in frequency.
  • 14% of all teens say they talk daily with friends on a landline, down from 30% who said so in 2009. Nearly a third (31%) of teens say they never talk on a landline with friends (or report that they cannot do so).
  • 26% of all teens (including those with and without cell phones) say they talk daily with friends on their cell phone, down from 38% of teens in 2009.
However, the Pew Internet survey shows that the heaviest texters are also the heaviest talkers. The heaviest texters (those who exchange more than 100 texts a day) are much more likely than lighter texters to say that they talk on their cell phone daily. Some 69% of heavy texters talk daily on their cell phones, compared with 46% of medium texters (those exchanging 21-100 texts a day) and 43% of light texters (those exchanging 0-20 texts a day).

When Texting Turns to Torment
In Cyberbullying, Mobile and communicating by Caroline Knorr of CommonSenseMedia.org, on 03.01.2012
Dealing with Digital Harassment
watch video
Too much texting, too much calling. Are your kids at risk?
·         76% of people ages 14-24 say that digital abuse is a serious problem.
·         Compared to 2009, young people in 2011 were significantly more likely to step in if they saw someone "being mean online."
·         Some of the most frequent forms of digital harassment include people writing things online that aren't true (26%), people writing things online that are mean (24%), and someone forwarding an IM or message that was intended to stay private (20%).
·         Digital abuse isn't generally the act of strangers -- perpetrators are usually people the victims know well.
·         (All of the above are from the 2011 AP-MTV Digital Abuse study)


Advice & Answers

What Is Digital Harassment?
Digital harassment is when kids and teens use cell phones, social networks, and other communications devices to bully, threaten, and aggressively badger someone. While it's a form of cyberbullying, "digital harassment" is a bit different because it usually takes place between two people in a romantic relationship.
Certainly, lots of young people conduct healthy relationships and use their online and mobile lives to stay connected to each other. But not all relationships are balanced -- especially with teens, whose emotional lives run at peak speeds.
Some relationships can become manipulative and controlling, and teens use the digital devices at their disposal to act out. A few texts a day can turn into a few hundred. Relentless and unreasonable demands escalate. The abuser presses for things like the other person's passwords (so they can check up on them) and sexy photos and forces their significant other to unfriend people whom the abuser doesn't like. They may spread lies, impersonate someone, or even resort to blackmail.

Why It Matters
However, there's a bright spot in all this. The survey also found that kids and teens who discover digital harassment among their friends are now more likely to intervene if they see someone being mean online than they were in 2009.
Large public-awareness campaigns -- most notably MTV's A Thin Line and The Family Violence Prevention Fund's That's Not Cool -- are helping teens recognize when staying connected crosses the line into digital harassment. These campaigns use kids' idols -- like Justin Bieber -- and entertaining videos to give teens the language they need to identify and end digital harassment.
Parents can support their teens by understanding that relationships these days are often played out both online and in public -- and kids need their parents' guidance in establishing appropriate boundaries for healthy relationships. Young love is complicated enough without the added pressure of constant access and public scrutiny. The tips below can help you help your kids navigate these murky waters so they can avoid digital drama for themselves and their friends.

Advice for Parents
If you suspect your kid is being harassed:
Start a discussion. Your teen may not tell you if harassment is happening directly to him or her. But you can bring it up when you talk about online safety and responsible behavior. Tell kids about resources like That's Not Cool and the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline.
Let them know you're always there for them. Remind teens often that you're always available to talk to. While you're at it, put in a plug for the school counselor, a teacher, or even a friend's parent -- knowing that they have a trusted adult to talk to may encourage teens to open up.
Help them set boundaries. Tell teens never to do anything that's outside their comfort zone -- like sharing passwords or sending sexual photos. (It never hurts to reiterate that anything you send can travel far and wide.)
If you suspect your kid may be harassing someone:
Check up on them. Check your teen's Facebook page and cell phone to see what kind of messages she's sending -- and whether anyone is telling her to back off. Check in with other parents -- the parents of your kid's friends may know something you don't.
Help your kid. Find a counselor or an organization that's equipped to help. (See resources at right.)
Tips for all parents:
Check your teens' texts, IMs, and status updates. Be aware of who your kids are talking to, what they're saying, and how they're saying it. If your teens won't share their messages, look at your bill to see the quantity of texts.
Have a zero-tolerance policy. No sexting, no hate speech, no stalkerish behavior. Make sure you explain the rules of responsible ownership of their devices.
Teach kids to be upstanders, not bystanders. If teens see their friends getting harassed, they should report it to a teacher, a counselor, or another responsible, trustworthy adult.
Talk about the pressure to broadcast. Kids in abusive relationships are often coerced into sending scantily clad or naked pictures of themselves to "prove" their love. If this happens to your kid, that's a big red flag.
Talk about what's private. Kids differ from their parents in their take on what's "private" and what's OK to share. Explain to them the consequences of posting or sending intimate stuff. It can be copied, forwarded, and sent to thousands of kids in an instant.
For books and resources to help you connect and communicate values to your kids check out our website at: http://www.almenconi.com/

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.

When Texting Turns To Torment

When Texting Turns to Torment
In Cyberbullying, Mobile and communicating by Caroline Knorr of CommonSenseMedia.org, on 03.01.2012
Dealing with Digital Harassment
watch video
Too much texting, too much calling. Are your kids at risk?
·         76% of people ages 14-24 say that digital abuse is a serious problem.
·         Compared to 2009, young people in 2011 were significantly more likely to step in if they saw someone "being mean online."
·         Some of the most frequent forms of digital harassment include people writing things online that aren't true (26%), people writing things online that are mean (24%), and someone forwarding an IM or message that was intended to stay private (20%).
·         Digital abuse isn't generally the act of strangers -- perpetrators are usually people the victims know well.
·         (All of the above are from the 2011 AP-MTV Digital Abuse study)


Advice & Answers

What Is Digital Harassment?
Digital harassment is when kids and teens use cell phones, social networks, and other communications devices to bully, threaten, and aggressively badger someone. While it's a form of cyberbullying, "digital harassment" is a bit different because it usually takes place between two people in a romantic relationship.
Certainly, lots of young people conduct healthy relationships and use their online and mobile lives to stay connected to each other. But not all relationships are balanced -- especially with teens, whose emotional lives run at peak speeds.
Some relationships can become manipulative and controlling, and teens use the digital devices at their disposal to act out. A few texts a day can turn into a few hundred. Relentless and unreasonable demands escalate. The abuser presses for things like the other person's passwords (so they can check up on them) and sexy photos and forces their significant other to unfriend people whom the abuser doesn't like. They may spread lies, impersonate someone, or even resort to blackmail.

Why It Matters
However, there's a bright spot in all this. The survey also found that kids and teens who discover digital harassment among their friends are now more likely to intervene if they see someone being mean online than they were in 2009.
Large public-awareness campaigns -- most notably MTV's A Thin Line and The Family Violence Prevention Fund's That's Not Cool -- are helping teens recognize when staying connected crosses the line into digital harassment. These campaigns use kids' idols -- like Justin Bieber -- and entertaining videos to give teens the language they need to identify and end digital harassment.
Parents can support their teens by understanding that relationships these days are often played out both online and in public -- and kids need their parents' guidance in establishing appropriate boundaries for healthy relationships. Young love is complicated enough without the added pressure of constant access and public scrutiny. The tips below can help you help your kids navigate these murky waters so they can avoid digital drama for themselves and their friends.

Advice for Parents
If you suspect your kid is being harassed:
Start a discussion. Your teen may not tell you if harassment is happening directly to him or her. But you can bring it up when you talk about online safety and responsible behavior. Tell kids about resources like That's Not Cool and the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline.
Let them know you're always there for them. Remind teens often that you're always available to talk to. While you're at it, put in a plug for the school counselor, a teacher, or even a friend's parent -- knowing that they have a trusted adult to talk to may encourage teens to open up.
Help them set boundaries. Tell teens never to do anything that's outside their comfort zone -- like sharing passwords or sending sexual photos. (It never hurts to reiterate that anything you send can travel far and wide.)
If you suspect your kid may be harassing someone:
Check up on them. Check your teen's Facebook page and cell phone to see what kind of messages she's sending -- and whether anyone is telling her to back off. Check in with other parents -- the parents of your kid's friends may know something you don't.
Help your kid. Find a counselor or an organization that's equipped to help. (See resources at right.)
Tips for all parents:
Check your teens' texts, IMs, and status updates. Be aware of who your kids are talking to, what they're saying, and how they're saying it. If your teens won't share their messages, look at your bill to see the quantity of texts.
Have a zero-tolerance policy. No sexting, no hate speech, no stalkerish behavior. Make sure you explain the rules of responsible ownership of their devices.
Teach kids to be upstanders, not bystanders. If teens see their friends getting harassed, they should report it to a teacher, a counselor, or another responsible, trustworthy adult.
Talk about the pressure to broadcast. Kids in abusive relationships are often coerced into sending scantily clad or naked pictures of themselves to "prove" their love. If this happens to your kid, that's a big red flag.
Talk about what's private. Kids differ from their parents in their take on what's "private" and what's OK to share. Explain to them the consequences of posting or sending intimate stuff. It can be copied, forwarded, and sent to thousands of kids in an instant.


The following is the Summary of findings: from their recent research about Teens, Smartphones & Texting
Published by Amanda Lenhart, Senior Research Specialist, Pew Internet Project, PewResearchCenter March 19, 2012
For the full report:  http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Teens-and-smartphones.aspx 



The volume of texting among teens has risen from 50 texts a day in 2009 to 60 texts for the median teen text user. Older teens, boys, and blacks are leading the increase. Texting is the dominant daily mode of communication between teens and all those with whom they communicate.
The typical American teen is sending and receiving a greater number of texts than in 2009. Overall, 75% of all teens text. Here are the key findings about the role of texting in teens’ lives:
  ·  The median number of texts (i.e. the midpoint user in our sample) sent on a typical day by teens 12-17 rose from 50 in 2009 to 60 in 2011.
 ·  Much of this increase occurred among older teens ages 14-17, who went from a median of 60 texts a day to a median of 100 two years later. Boys of all ages also increased their texting volume from a median of 30 texts daily in 2009 to 50 texts in 2011. Black teens showed an increase of a median of 60 texts per day to 80.
 ·  Older girls remain the most enthusiastic texters, with a median of 100 texts a day in 2011, compared with 50 for boys the same age.
·  63% of all teens say they exchange text messages every day with people in their lives. This far surpasses the frequency with which they pick other forms of daily communication, including phone calling by cell phone (39% do that with others every day), face-to-face socializing outside of school (35%), social network site messaging (29%), instant messaging (22%), talking on landlines (19%) and emailing (6%).
The frequency of teens’ phone chatter with friends – on cell phones and landlines – has fallen. But the heaviest texters are also the heaviest talkers with their friends.
  • Teens’ phone conversations with friends are slipping in frequency.
  • 14% of all teens say they talk daily with friends on a landline, down from 30% who said so in 2009. Nearly a third (31%) of teens say they never talk on a landline with friends (or report that they cannot do so).
  • 26% of all teens (including those with and without cell phones) say they talk daily with friends on their cell phone, down from 38% of teens in 2009.
However, the Pew Internet survey shows that the heaviest texters are also the heaviest talkers. The heaviest texters (those who exchange more than 100 texts a day) are much more likely than lighter texters to say that they talk on their cell phone daily. Some 69% of heavy texters talk daily on their cell phones, compared with 46% of medium texters (those exchanging 21-100 texts a day) and 43% of light texters (those exchanging 0-20 texts a day).

For books and resources to help you connect and communicate values to your kids check out our website at: http://www.almenconi.com/

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.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Letters and notes of encouragement

We often receive letters and notes letting us know how our ministry has been an influence on our world.  I'd like to share a few "stories" that were a particular interest this past week.  


1) First, I received a "Skype" call from Lebanon from a young man who teaches at the Christian school in Beirut.  He has been using our "But It Doesn't Affect Me!" PowerPoint presentation and curriculum to teach his students to make wise entertainment choices.  


Toni called to thank us for producing materials that answered all the questions his students had.  He was so thrilled that he now had material to answer his students as well as use it as a starting point to talk with the non Christian community that surrounds his school.  I gave him permission to translate much of our material into Arabic.  Can you believe our material is now in Arabic??


After I thanked him for his kind words, I told him that I didn't realize the kids in Beirut would be interested in going through the lessons of "But It Doesn't Affect Me."  He chuckled at my ignorance and told me the kids in Beirut entertain themselves with the same entertainment as the "western culture."  They watch the same TV shows and movies, they listen to the same music, play the same video games and text 24/7 like the kids in America.  


He was excited that he now was able to answer their questions and teach them how to make wise choices.  


2) We have had more response from our reviews on the Hunter Games than ANYTHING else I have ever published in 30 years of ministry.  In an email, one mother thanked us for our morally specific "review" of the Hunter Games.  She took our advice and went to the movie with her mature 11 year old daughter.  The mother was then motivated to read all the books and had wonderful, spiritually deep, and meaningful discussions with her daughter about the movie, the character of the people in the movie and how to develop wise entertainment choices.  This mother thanked me because without our review she would have missed this opportunity to have these discussions with her daughter.  She also expressed appreciation that the movie gave her another opportunity to connect with her daughter.  


3) Probably the most meaningful and shortest note of the week came from a mother who was heading up a committee to invite me to speak at her church again this Fall.  She casually mentioned that she wanted me to meet her son, who had given his life to Christ the last time I spoke at her church nearly 5 years ago.  What a blessing!! 


I don't know about you, but hearing and reading the above responses "pumps me up." What a joy to be a tongue in the Body of Christ.   I LOVE WHAT I DO!  And I love seeing lives being changed for His Kingdom.  These notes reinforce why we are in this ministry. 


Thank you for being apart.  



For books and resources to help you connect and communicate values to your kids check out our website at: http://www.almenconi.com/  and on facebook @ Al Menconi Ministries

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.

5 Ways to Help Kids Find Balance


5 Ways to Help Kids Find Balance
In CommonSenseMedia.com/Family media managementPhysical health by Caroline Knorr, on 03.05.12 
Sometimes it seems like the more tech savvy kids become, the fewer real-world skills they're capable of. Many can easily manipulate a smart phone, but basic stuff like chores, sports -- even making eye contact -- has become a challenge.
My kid was well past his tenth birthday before he achieved true proficiency at tying his shoes,but he could rule the world in Civilization V. One friend's kid has a hard time maintaining a conversation, but she IMs a blue streak. And another friend's toddler is a genius on a smartphone but resists all efforts at potty training.
Kids are more digitally plugged in than ever. According to Common Sense Media's 2011 Zero to Eight media-use study, half of all children have access to mobile devices at home, like tablet computers and iPods. And in 2010, a study by the Internet security company AVG found that a whopping 69 percent of 2- to 5-year-olds can operate a computer mouse, but only 11 percent can tie their own shoelaces.
These statistics may make you want to swear off digital devices forever or just turn back the clock. But that's impossible. Kids view technology as an integral part of their lives -- something that enables them to have new experiences, learn about the world, and share a sense of community with their friends.
The challenge of parenting in the digital age is figuring out how to maximize the benefits of all these technological advancements -- while minimizing the risks -- and balancing it all with the real-world experiences that are so crucial for healthy development. It can be as simple as making sure that for every half hour spent playing Mario Kart, your kid spends 30 minutes practicing nostalgic childhood activities like jumping rope, somersaulting, or playing hide-and-seek.
Ironically, technology makes life so easy that finding the time and motivation to practice life skills can be hard. It's all about balance. Here are some strategies that I use to try to get the right mix.
Plan off-line time. The lure of digital pursuits is strong, so help your kid plan his or her day to fit in all of the "have-tos" -- homework, chores -- with the "want-tos" like games and Facebook.
Play active games. While they're not a substitute for experience, active games are a great antidote to sedentary, solitary games -- and a good choice for when you simply can't get outdoors.
Consider the example you're setting. I know I'm my son's digital role model. I make an effort to turn off my email or stop checking my phone once dinnertime rolls around. My actions show him that screen limits don't only apply to him.
Use media as a jumping-off point. Whether it's a jewelry-making game that encourages entrepreneurship, a strategy game that relates to world history, or a guitar how-to video on YouTube, think of ways to extend your kids' favorite electronic pursuits into the real world.
It's OK to be bored. In fact, experts recommend that kids let their minds wander. Impose some downtime on your kid (and yourself!).