Monday, September 24, 2012

Parenting Teenagers: Translating Teen Speak

The Blog by Michelle Lamar, Huffington Post/August 10, 2012

If you are a parent with teenagers, one of the first things you need is a translator.
Parenting teenagers requires you to read between the lines of what your kids tell you to find out what is really going on.
By definition, a parent is embarrassing to a teenager and most teens like their privacy. This is a given, but it is also because parental supervision tends to get in the way of fun. So parents are provided with the least amount of information possible.
Translating teen speak can be challenging, but think of it as an adventure!
Like an anthropologist studying a different culture, you can understand the complicated language of teens if you keep two rules in mind:
Rule 1: All teenagers lie to their parents. Some teens are masters of deception while others fib a little. But all teenagers embellish the truth.
Rule 2: If you don't believe rule #1, you are in denial.
Here are some examples of Teen Speak and the Translation:
When a Teenager Says:
"I cleaned my room."
What this Really Means:
I cleared a path from the bed to the door.
When a Teenager Says:
"Can I have a couple of friends over?"
What This Really Means:
My friends are already here. There are ten kids here now, with more coming.
When a Teenager Says:
"I'm going to my room to do my homework."
What This Really Means:
I'm going to Skype my friends for hours discussing events of the day.
When a Teenager Says:
"YES Susan's parents will be home!"
What this Really Means:
I have no idea if the parents are going to be home. But if I'm convincing enough, you won't call Susan's parents to double check.
When a Teenager Says:
"Hello? Of course I was nice to my sister."
What this Really Means:
I didn't cause her bodily harm. This time.
When a Teenager Says:
"She SAID it was okay to borrow her jeans/shirt/insert clothing item here."
What this Really Means:
I asked her while she was sleeping if I could wear it and she didn't say no.
When a Teenager Says:
"We're not going to do much. Probably watch TV, do a little homework."
What this Really Means:
The minute your car leaves the driveway, ten kids are coming over.
When a Teenager Says:
"Don't you remember? You said it was okay if I went to Cabo for Spring Break."
What this Really Means:
It probably won't work but I'll give it a try anyway.
When a Teenager Says:
"Really? I can't BELIEVE you think I would DO that!"
What this Really Means:
I can't BELIEVE I'm caught. I'll stall until I can think of something.
When a Teenager Says:
"I heard about that wild party at Smith's house and I chose not to go."
What this Really Means:
I knew about the party. But I didn't go because you would ground me for being there.  And because deep down, I knew I shouldn't be there. But I'll never tell you that.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Why YouTube makes parenting teens even harder

Why YouTube makes parenting teens even harder

Posted on MD Mama by Dr. Claire McCarthy June 7, 2012

Have you heard of the California Knockout? I hadn't when I was asked by our local Fox TV station to talk about it, so I did what we all do these days when we want to find out about something: I Googled it. I found out that it's a variation on the Choking Game: you hyperventilate, then someone pushes on your chest which stops blood flow to the brain. You get a quick high, and then you pass out. Yet another one of the outrageously stupid and dangerous things that teenagers do--and apparently a bunch of middle schoolers in Northbridge have been doing it, prompting the principal to send out an email warning parents.

Among the links on Google were links to Youtube--and I was floored. There was video after video of kids doing this. If anybody has even the slightest question about how to do it effectively, a quick check of YouTube will answer it for you. Of course, the videos don't mention that it can cause seizures or brain damage, or that kids can hit their heads or otherwise get hurt when they pass out and fall down.

Now, it's sadly normal for teenagers to do outrageously stupid and dangerous things. It's consistent with where they are in brain development, at that crossroads between being children--fast learners and fearless--and being adults, with a bit more common sense. The last part of their brains to mature is the frontal lobe, where common sense and reason live. Another thing we know about teens is that not only are they risk takers, but they are deeply influenced by their peers.If their friends are doing something, they are more likely to do it--especially if they think it's going to make them seem cool, or brave. 

What YouTube does is multiply that peer effect. The videos (which were really disturbing but at the same time fascinating) made doing this outrageously stupid thing look really cool. The kids doing it, and the ones urging them on, seemed really brave and reckless in that way we all want to be when we are teens. The message of the videos was that you were a wimp (or whatever the proper word is these days) if you weren't willing to try doing this (outrageously stupid thing).
I'm not sure that parents fully get this. We're so used to thinking of "peers" as the people our kids hang out with. They are the people we think about when we think about who influences our kids. But with the internet, and especially sites like YouTube, "peers" becomes the whole wide world. Anybody with a video camera can influence our kids.

I'm not saying we should keep our kids off YouTube. There's lots of great stuff there. It would be nice if YouTube could do a better job of policing, but I don't know that that's realistic (one of the videos had a warning that it might not be appropriate for some viewers, but I was able to click right through that). But we do need to do some extra talking to our kids. We need to talk with them about what they do and see on the Internet. We need to have more conversations about making good decisions (like: doing things that stop the blood flow to your brain is not smart). We need to be more involved.

As if parenting teens wasn't already hard enough. Sheesh.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Song That Changed My Life




ATLANTA, GA. September 5, 2012 – GMC TV, America’s favorite channel for uplifting family entertainment, presents the Original World Television Premiere of “The Song that Changed My Life with Marvin Sapp,” the latest installment in the network’s reality television series chronicling the impact of inspirational music by great artists. This emotionally powerful and inspiring episode features pastor and award-winning gospel music singer-songwriter Marvin Sapp and Yolanda Bennett, a former hairdresser and mother whose life was transformed by Sapp’s 2007 hit single “Never Would Have Made It.” The show is narrated by pop icon and radio-television presenter John Tesh. “The Song that Changed My Life with Marvin Sapp” makes its world television premiere exclusively on GMC TV on Saturday, September 8th at 9:00 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. EST.
 “The Song that Changed My Life with Marvin Sapp” tells the story of Yolanda Bennett, an Atlanta mother who fell into a deep depression and dependence on prescription drugs after the back-to-back deaths of her husband and father. Remarkably, Bennett’s downward spiral came to an overnight stop after she tuned in by chance to an awards show in which Sapp was performing “Never Would Have Made It.” Inspired by the song, Bennett quit her medications cold turkey the next day and began turning her life around. Interwoven with Bennett’s story are candid interviews with Sapp, who tells how the song came to him during a dark time of his own, when he was grieving the loss of his father in 2007.
 “I broke down,” says Sapp, who recorded with the group Commissioned in the 1990s before beginning a record-breaking solo career. “I sat in the pulpit with tears just rolling down my face and I just started singing these words. The next thing I know, the church just erupted. It was amazing."
 At the urging of his wife, Sapp fleshed the song out and added it—almost as an afterthought—to his 2007 album Thirsty. The rest is history. “Never Would Have Made It” went on to become No. 1 in gospel radio for 47 weeks and remains the longest-running No. 1 single on radio across all genres. It was named the Top Song of 2008 by The Associated Press and people started calling Sapp “Mr. Never Would Have Made It.”
 “I want people to understand that you can get through things and move on and have a happier life," Bennett says. Sapp, who is the pastor at Lighthouse Full Life Center Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., adds, “I never understood the power of a song until this experience. The fact that something so little can impact somebody so much, I'm astounded and thankful."
 “Everyone’s life has a soundtrack and sometimes the song that’s playing when you’re going through challenging times can be a pivotal element in your life,” says Rex Humbard, senior vice president productions and operations, GMC and executive producer. “In this episode of our series ‘The Song that Changed My Life,’ we see the power of something as simple as a heartfelt prayer that turned into a song with the power to transform lives. And let’s face it, we’ve all had our ‘never-would-have-made-it’ moments and somehow found a way through it.  We are thrilled to be able to share these moments with our GMC viewers.”
 In addition to Sapp and Bennett, “The Song that Changed My Life with Marvin Sapp” includes interviews with Sapp’s brother Henry Sapp, as well as Bennett’s sister Stephanie Cook; her mother, Dorothy Bennett; her daughter, Jayde Bennett; and her young son, Donavyn Bennett-Hill. Voiceover narration is by John Tesh, an award-winning American pianist and composer of pop music, as well as a prolific radio host and television presenter. GMC’s “The Song that Changed My Life with Marvin Sapp” is produced by Hirsh TV in association with GMC.  The episode was produced by Logan Hirsh and GMC TV.
 “The Song that Changed My Life with Marvin Sapp” is the second installment in the network’s reality television series chronicling the impact of inspirational music by great artists. The inaugural episode featured a Greenville, S.C. family whose lives were forever altered by the song “When Love Takes You In” by Steven Curtis Chapman, an American musician, songwriter, record producer, actor, author and social activist. The song, which focuses on the topic of adoption, was especially meaningful for Chuck and Shelley Pace, who were split on whether to adopt a child. The couple already had three biological children, but Shelley wanted to adopt a little girl from China while Chuck was less sure. All that changed when Chuck attended a concert by Chapman in 2005 and saw a video for “When Love Takes You In.” The Pace family went ahead with the adoption as a result and welcomed a beautiful young girl into their family.
Marvin Louis Sapp grew up in Grand Rapids, Mich., and began singing in church at age four. After singing with a number of gospel ensembles, he joined the group Commissioned in 1991, leaving five years later to go solo. His inspirational song “Never Would Have Made It,” from his 2007 album Thirsty, became a runaway hit that propelled the pastor into the musical spotlight. Born out of the pain of losing his father, the song broke numerous records, peaking at No.14 on the U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, No. 82 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and also at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Gospel Songs chart. Sapp’s next album would become the all time highest-charting gospel artist in Billboard's 54-year history of tracking album sales. Nominated for eight Grammy© Awards, Sapp is a multiple Stellar Award winner, and also won BET’s Best Gospel Artist award in 2008 and 2010, as well as GMA Dove Award for Contemporary Gospel Recorded Song of the Year in 2011 for the hit single “The Best In Me.” He is founder and senior pastor at Lighthouse Full Life Center Church in Grand Rapids.
GMC TV ( is America’s favorite television channel for uplifting family entertainment. The Parents Television Council™ has twice awarded its Entertainment Seal of Approval™ to GMC for being “an authentic family-friendly cable network.” GMC TV is the only television network brand to be so honored.  In 2011, GMC TV was the second fastest growing ad supported cable network in total day households and A18-49. GMC can be seen in more than 55 million homes on various cable systems around the country, as well as DISH Network on channel 188, DIRECTV on channel 338 and Verizon FiOS on channel 224. Follow GMC TV on Facebook and Twitter at and

Monday, September 3, 2012

'Burn books' are sparking controversy

Detective: It's cyberbullying

Staff Writer
You have a big nose. Your butt is huge. You're ugly. You smell.
These insults — and much worse — are popping up on the Internet in "burn book" accounts that are specific to area schools and to particular students there. The burn books are creating a stir in local communities and across the country.
Inspired by the 2004 Lindsay Lohan movie "Mean Girls," burn books are Twitter accounts where an anonymous person posts multiple Tweets that insult, taunt and call out classmates by name on the social media messaging network.
Manheim Township, Warwick, Manheim Central, Donegal, Garden Spot, Hempfield and Ephrata schools are among those that have been targeted by burn book accounts.
Concerned parents and students have alerted local police departments about the burn books, which also make graphic accusations about students', or even teachers', sexual habits, drinking or drug use, in addition to the put-downs.
The accounts specialize in casual cruelty, with Manheim Central's signing off Wednesday night with this flippant tweet: "I'm done for tonight, don't cry yourself to sleep people."
Some local police say the accounts are more than just insulting. They are taking steps to obtain account holders' names and will consider prosecution on charges such as harassment or harassment by communication.
"This absolutely is cyberbullying, this is what it's about," said Lititz police Detective John Schofield, who said his department fielded five phone calls Wednesday alerting police to the Warwick burn book. "It could rise to a criminal charge."
Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman agreed.
"I can't charge someone for being a jerk, but I could see someone crossing over that line and we'd end up having to file charges," he said of some of the more lewd postings.
Some say the burn books are a modern version of playground taunts and that people simply should ignore them or block them.
Ephrata police Sgt. David Shupp said his department has not received calls about the Ephrata burn book. He said it would be difficult to find the manpower to police these types of Internet problems.
"You can fix 10 of these, and 20 more are coming tomorrow," he said. "It just keeps coming. Kids just keep doing stupid things."
Manheim Township police Sgt. Thomas Rudzinski said he was not aware of any calls to police about a burn book targeting the township's school.
Burn books recently started popping up here and quickly attracted large followings. Manheim Township's burn book had more than 400 students following it when it was taken down Wednesday.
Students have been both delighted —"Whoever is behind this I kinda wanna shake yr hand" is what someone posted on the Manheim Central burn book — and combative — "I know a lot of people that love me," posted a student who had been called out on the site.
In some communities, students are fighting back by starting alternative sites. Someone started the "Warwick friend book" Twitter account that also names students, but compliments them for being "super hot," "a great dancer" and "gorgeous."
Emily McNaughton is a 2012 Elizabethtown High School graduate. As of Thursday, no one had started a burn book targeting her school, but she feared it might just be a matter of time.
"I just started seeing them last night because everyone was talking about it," she said Thursday. "Some people thought it was funny. … I actually find it very immature."
She hopes the police prosecute the accounts that go over the line.
"Social networking is great but it's not when it's used for all the wrong purposes," she said.
Some upset viewers apparently are taking their complaints directly to Twitter and filing reports about the accounts. Twitter has shut down most of the local burn books in just the past few days.
Twitter's press office did not return an email asking for comments on burn book accounts.
Manheim police Chief Joe Stauffer reported two Manheim burn books to Twitter himself after a borough councilman called to alert him to the accounts.
Manheim and other schools have had several versions of burn books. One gets taken down and another one pops up in its place.
Burn books have been around for years in different formats. Formerly called "slam books," they used to be a spiral-bound notebook where someone would post a question and pass it around in school for others to write an answer. Insults also were usually written in the book.
The burn book was featured prominently in "Mean Girls," which chronicles the comeuppance of a girls' clique called the Plastics.
The movie's burn book was pink, and a photo of it is often posted as the icon for similar accounts on Twitter, which has hundreds of burn book accounts.
Schools in Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina and other areas also have been targeted by burn book accounts, according to online news accounts.
In fact, the phenomenon has been around long enough that it already has been parodied in such Twitter accounts as "Suri's Burn Book," where Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' precocious child allegedly tweets thoughts such as, "Jennifer Aniston is engaged! I hope she and Justin are really happy together and that Angelina Jolie gets hit by a car."
Locally, many people are hoping the fad is short-lived.
"Harassment is harassment, no matter how you look at it," Schofield said.

Read more: