Good Bye to School Dances?


Forget school dances—kids are too busy texting!


Caroline Moss, a writer for Business Insider, says her old high school has almost done away with school dances since she graduated. Why? Because the kids can’t be bothered to attend: they’re too busy texting.


According to Plugged, the school’s assistant principal, Lisa Kor, says, “Kids don’t need to go to a dance to interact with each other when they can sit in their bed with their laptop and phone and text them.”


“It’s basically like being with that person. You don’t have to show up to a dance hoping to see someone anymore. You can literally Snapchat them and see them on Snapchat.”


Lisa’s school now sponsors just one dance: prom.


And, if you think high schoolers spend a lot of time texting or on social media site, listen up.


According to a new study, Millennials spend almost eighteen hours per day engaged in with some kind of media.  Obviously some of that time overlaps, but listen to these stats from a new survey conducted by Ipsos Media.


Overall, Web surfing, along with social media activities and smartphone interactions such as texting and chatting take up the biggest chunk of Millennials media time each day, making up about 50% of the total.


Included in that percentage is the fact that 30% of the time is consumed with content created by their peers such as Facebook posts and tweets.


Watching television takes up 23% of young adult’s media time, playing computer or video games takes up 10%, watching movies 7%, and listening to the radio 7%.


What about reading those lowly print magazines and newspapers?  Millennials just spend about 3% of their time doing that.  Newspaper—what’s a newspaper?


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Alcoholics App


A new smartphone app has been developed for recovering alcoholics.  It includes a panic button and sounds an alert when the person gets too close to a bar.

According to, a study was conducted using the app, which involved 350 people leaving residential treatment programs for alcoholism.  Half of them used the smartphone app designed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin, while the other half received conventional treatment.

The app includes a feature that asks regularly asks the person how they are doing with their recovery, via text or voicemail.  If their answers raise a red flag, the system automatically notifies a counselor who can then offer help.

The app also has a panic button that can be programmed to notify recovering peers who are nearby. It also offers links to relaxation techniques to calm the patient while he or she is waiting for help.

The patients who got the free “sober smartphones” reported fewer binge drinking days and more alcohol free days than the patients who received the usual follow-up support.

Mark Wiitala took part in the study and says the app helped save his life. He said the most helpful feature allowed him to connect to a network of peers who’d gone through the same recovery program. The app made them immediately accessible for an encouraging text or phone call when he needed help.

Mark says, “It’s an absolutely amazing tool.”

By the way The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 38 million Americans drink too heavily, and more than 25,000 alcohol-related deaths occur each year.

If you need help with a drug or alcohol problem, visit


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Trouble Concentrating


Dear Dr. Bill,

Our adopted eight-year-old son has trouble concentrating and staying on task in school.  My husband and I are considering having him tested for ADHD, but I have reservations about taking him to see a psychologist.  Are my concerns totally out of balance?  What are some guidelines for selecting a psychologist?  And should we make sure they are Christian?



Dear Glenda,

Your son’s attention problems could be caused by a variety of different things.  ADHD is one possibility.  S are learning disabilities, anxiety, depression, and even family problems.

I would suggest that you arrange to have your son evaluated by a professional who specializes in ADHD.  This could be a child psychologist, a child psychiatrist, a pediatrician, a social worker or a licensed family counselor.

I always advise parents to get a referral from a medical professional that they trust, such as their family doctor.  A major children’s hospital can refer you to a specialist who treats ADHD.

Many Christian parents have concerns about taking their child to a non-Christian therapist.  As I’ve mentioned before, you’re wise to be wary of any therapist who may be anti-Christian or hostile to your faith.

But there are many fine non-Christian physicians and psychologists who are excellent professionals and may be able to help your son.

What’s important is that they respect your Christian beliefs and don’t attempt to undermine your faith.

By the way, a great place to find solid information about ADHD is an organization called CHADD, Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder.  You can visit their website at

Thanks for writing, Glenda.


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Bombarded New Parents


Dear Dr. Bill,

We recently had our first child, a little girl who is now two months old.  I’m asking this question on behalf of my wife. She’s been feeling overwhelmed by all the parenting advice we’ve been getting from our friends and family.  Sometimes these well-meaning people even contradict each other!  My wife and I are learning as we go—but I feel like telling these people to mind their own business!  Is that wrong?



Dear Brian,

You’re not alone.  A lot of new parents are bombarded with advice from friends, co-workers, and family members.  Like you and your wife, many of those couples feel like telling the advice-givers to put a lid on it.


It’s important to remember that most people who offer advice are simply well-meaning folks who want to help.  They’ve raised their own kids, and have “been there, done that.”  They genuinely care about you and your wife and are trying their best to share what they’ve learned.


On the other hand, there will always be a few know-it-alls who take pleasure in pointing out your mistakes and telling you “the right way” to parent your child.  Dealing with these individuals can be frustrating, and it sounds like you’ve just about had it.


When responding to the know-it-all variety, I’ve found it helpful to say something like this, ”Thank you so much for your helpful advice, we will certainly consider it.”  This phrase can be particularly useful if the unwanted advice is coming from a relative such as a parent or in-law.


Another helpful technique is to thank the advice-giver and let them know that you are basing your parenting on the advice of respected child-development experts.


A great place to find that advice is Focus on the Family’s Complete Book of Baby and Child Care written by twenty-six family physicians and pediatricians.

Thanks for writing Brian.


If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

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Healing Rifts


Religious leaders say Pope Francis has quietly started a new era in relations between the Roman Catholic Church and Pentecostals.

The Pope recorded an iPhone video in January on the phone of a clergy friend with ties to the Pentecostal movement.

The pope’s friend then played the video for Pentecostal pastors in Texas and the greeting went viral.

For years, Pentecostal movements have been gaining parishioners from the Catholic Church, especially in Latin America.

But in the video, Francis calls the Pentecostal pastors his brothers and says they should work together for Christian unity.

One Pentecostal leader says that small gesture did more to heal the rift than the past four decades of dialogue.

Together, Pentecostals and Charismatics comprise about one-quarter of the world’s 2 billion Christians.

In other faith news, the movie Heaven is for Real opens next week.

The film tells the true story four-year-old Colton Burpo who had a near death experience in the operating room.

He later told his parents that he had been to heaven and revealed things about deceased relatives that his parents had never told him.

Film producer Devon Franklin says they found the perfect actor to play the part of Colton, Connor Corum from Ohio.

Mr. Franklin says, “He had never acted a day in his life. The odds of finding a five-year-old kid to play Colton was not in our favor, but God really sent Connor to us.”

The film also stars Greg Kinner as Colton’s father. It opens this Wednesday.

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Tweets, Freedom of Religion, and Creationism


Here are a few faith-related stories that might interest you.


Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is in hot water with atheists after tweeting a Bible verse.  Governor Walker recently tweeted Philippians 4:13, which says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”


He said the verse was part of a devotional he had read that morning, and it inspired him so he wanted to share it.


The atheist group, Freedom from Religion Foundation, is demanding that Walker remove the post from Twitter and Facebook.  They say the governor is using his position to promote Christianity.


Governor Walker says has no plans of taking down the post.

In other news, the president of Ball State University is planning to meet with four Indiana legislators over a freedom of religion issue.  The lawmakers are questioning her decision to prohibit the teaching of intelligent design in a science course.


Ball State President, Jo Ann Gora, is inviting the lawmakers to the Muncie campus after they questioned whether the school had violated the religious and academic freedoms of the professor involved.


The lawmakers say they might seek legislative action over the treatment of the physics professor who was accused of teaching creationism.

Mission Aviation Fellowship has a new airplane that will help them spread the gospel to isolated people groups in Southeast Asia.  MAF’s newest aircraft, a Quest KODIAK, will be based in in Papua, Indonesia.


John Boyd of MAF says, “This remarkable airplane will be used to deliver food, medicine, building materials, and Bibles. It will transport medical teams, missionaries, and relief workers. It will carry children to school and the sick to the hospital.”


I’d encourage you to pray for the pilots and ground crews of MAF, as they share God’s love with those who don’t know Him.


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Affection and Obesity


If your mom and dad were rigid with rules, skimpy with affection, and didn’t talk to you much, you have a greater risk of being overweight.

According to a story from United Press International a new Canadian study found that kids who had parents with those characteristics were more likely to be obese.

The research team looked at over 37,000 children from two types of families.  One group of kids had parents were generally affectionate, had reasonable discussions about behavior, and set healthy boundaries.  These parents were described as “authoritative.”

The second group of kids had parents who strict about limits, rarely talked to their children, and showed little affection.  These parents were described as “authoritarian.”

The researchers then compared the kids’ body mass index.   The children reared by authoritarian parents had a thirty percent higher chance of being obese before the age of 5.  The kids between the ages of 6-11 were thirty-seven percent more likely to be classified as obese.

The study also found that living in poverty was associated with childhood obesity, but parenting style affected obesity regardless of income level.

Researcher Lisa Kakinamis says, “Parents should at least be aware of their parenting style.  If you’re treating your child with a balance of affection and limits—these are the kids who are least likely to be obese.”

If you’d like to learn how to balance love and limits in your parenting, let me recommend a great book.  It’s called Boundaries with Kids by Christian psychologists Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

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Texting Emergencies


Do you text while you walk?  It could land you in the emergency room!

UPI is reporting on research done at Ohio State University, showing that distracted walking—such as texting while walking on a street—results in more injuries per mile than distracted driving.

The researchers found that the number of ER visits for injuries related to using a cell phone while walking have tripled in the past ten years.

Dr. Dietrich Jehle, a professor of emergency medicine at the University at Buffalo, says tens of thousands of pedestrians are treated in emergency rooms across the nation each year.  As many as ten percent of those visits result from accidents involving cellphones.

The consequences of texting while walking include bumping into walls, falling down stairs, tripping over clutter or stepping into traffic.

Dr. Jehle says, “When texting you’re not as in control with the complex actions of walking. While talking on the phone is a distraction, texting is much more dangerous because you can’t see the path in front of you.”

Although injuries from car accidents involving texting are often more severe, physical harm resulting from texting and walking occurs more often.

According to Dr. Jehle, the number of injuries involving texting and walking is likely higher than official statistics suggest.  That’s because patients tend to under report information about themselves when it’s embarrassing.


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Scared of the School Bus


Dear Dr. Bill,

Our family recently moved and now my six year old daughter is terrified of riding on a school bus!  The school is too far away for her to walk, and my wife and I both work—so driving her back and forth every day really isn’t feasible.  What can we do?



Dear Greg,

Your e-mail doesn’t provide much information on what might be causing your daughter’s fear of the school bus.  Did some kind traumatic incident occur on the bus?  Are there children on the bus who are bullying her?  Does the bus driver yell at the kids and threaten them?

Her fear could be based on any one of these things, but it’s likely it may have more to do with adjusting to the new school and being separated from mom and dad.

To determine if something occurred on the bus that scared her, you’ll need to have a conversation with the bus driver and perhaps with his supervisor.  If something did happen, you’ll need to discuss the experience with her and enlist the driver’s help to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

On the other hand, if she’s never actually ridden the bus to her new school and is afraid to get on it, the issue is most likely a fear of being separated from you and your wife. In that case, you’ll need to bite the bullet and lovingly but firmly insist that she get the bus and take it to school.

Here’s one way you might make her first ride less traumatic.  Ask the bus driver if you could meet him later in the day after the afternoon run.  Allow your daughter to meet the driver and tour the bus with you.

Make it a fun experience, exploring the different seats and perhaps asking the driver if she can honk the horn.  This will give her a sense of mastery and control over the situation, and should make getting on the bus the next morning much easier for her.

Thanks for writing, Greg.


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Family Time


How much time does your family spend together?  New research has found that families who routinely sing, play, story-tell and eat dinner together have children who have higher levels of social and emotional health.

United Press International reports on the study which was published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

It found children who participated in five family routines were more than twice as likely to have high social-emotional health.

Social-emotional health involves the ability to understand emotions, express empathy, demonstrate self-regulation, and form positive relationships with peers and adults.

High social-emotional health in early childhood is thought to help a child adapt to the school environment and perform well academically. It’s also is a good predictor of children’s long-term outcomes.

The researchers analyzed data from a large sample of preschool-aged children from across the country.  They asked parents of these kids how many times their ate dinner together per week, how often they sang songs, read books and told stories to their kid, and how often they played together.

They found that for each additional routine that a parent and child do together, there is an almost 50 percent greater likelihood of that child having high social-emotional health.

So my advice is: turn off the TV and computer, put your mobile devices in a basket in the laundry room, and spend some time reading or playing with your kids tonight.

For some great ideas on incorporating spiritual truths into your playtime, check out the book 52 Creative Family Time Experiences by Timothy Smith.

If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

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