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5 Reasons Every Parent Should Beware of Instagram

You think you’ve got your kids under control when it comes to Facebook and their security settings? Think again. My 13-years old is now using Instagram and I found out it’s whole other ballgame when it comes to concerns. Here are some things you should be cautious about.

18 Point “Teenager” Phone Contract

1. It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren’t I the greatest?
2. I will always know the password.
3. If it rings, answer it. It is a phone. Say hello, use your manners. Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads “Mom” or “Dad”. Not ever.
4. Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30pm every school night & every weekend night at 9:00pm. It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30am. If you would not make a call to someone’s land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text. Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected.
5. It does not go to school with you. Have a conversation with the people you text in person. It’s a life skill.
6. If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs.
7. Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being. Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire.
8-9. Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.
10. No porn.
11. Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public. Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being. You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.
12. Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts. Don’t laugh. Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence. It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life. It is always a bad idea. Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you. And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear — including a bad reputation.
13. Don’t take a zillion pictures and videos. There is no need to document everything. Live your experiences. They will be stored in your memory for eternity.
14. Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision. It is not alive or an extension of you. Learn to live without it. Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO — fear of missing out.
15. Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff. Your generation has access to music like never before in history. Take advantage of that gift. Expand your horizons.
16. Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then.
17. Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you. Stare out a window. Listen to the birds. Take a walk. Talk to a stranger. Wonder without googling.
18. You will mess up. I will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You & I, we are always learning. I am on your team. We are in this together.

Marijuana & Teenagers

Could marijuana be linked to psychotic symptoms in teens?   Or are psychotic teens more likely to use marijuana?

According to a story on Reuters Health, new research from the Netherlands has looked at the relationship between pot and psychosis.

Earlier studies found links between marijuana use and psychosis, but scientists questioned whether pot use increased the risk of mental illness, or whether people were using pot to ease their psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions.

Dr. Gregory Seeger, medical director for addiction services at Rochester General Hospital in upstate New York, says “What is interesting in this study is that both processes are going on at the same time.”

Dr. Seeger says researchers have been especially concerned about what (THC), the active property in marijuana, could do to a teenager’s growing brain.

He points out that adolescence is a vulnerable period of time for brain development, and that individuals with a family history of schizophrenia and psychosis seem to be more sensitive to the toxic effects of THC.

In the Dutch study, the researchers found a “bidirectional link” between pot use and psychosis.

For example, using pot at 16 years old was linked to psychotic symptoms three years later, and psychotic symptoms at age 16 were linked to pot use at age 19.

The new study doesn’t prove that one causes the other, but Dr. Seeger believes there needs to be more public awareness of the connection.

He says: “I think the marijuana is not a harmless substance. Especially for teenagers, there should be more of a public health message out there that marijuana has a public health risk.”

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Click here for the audio version of this article.

Student Asks About Marrying In College

Dear Dr. Bill,

I am a 19-year-old college student on a full-ride scholarship. I’ve been dating my girlfriend for about 5 months and I already know this is the woman I want to marry. We were both raised in solid, godly families — and we’ve made a commitment to purity before marriage. After much prayer, we’ve decided we’d like to get married in 2 years.

The good news is that both sets of parents approve of our plans. But my parents disagree about the timing. They think we should wait until after I graduate. I think this issue is about their preference rather than facing the fact that I’m ready to make this decision for myself. What do you think?

–Cody


Dear Cody,

It sounds like you and your girlfriend are starting off with a good foundation. I also admire your decision to pursue sexual purity. However, at 19-years-old, I don’t think it’s wise to make a decision about marriage after dating someone for five months.

Your girlfriend sounds wonderful, and she may be just the person God wants you to marry. But during the first 3-6 months of your relationship, you’re in the “infatuation” stage. Your brains are releasing chemicals called endorphins, which contribute to a heightened sense of happiness and well-being.

During that time, we’re basically “in love with being in love,” and we’re unlikely to view our dating partner or our relationship realistically. That’s why I advise couples to date for at least a year before getting engaged. I believe it’s better to have a longer courtship and a shorter engagement, rather than vice versa.

Also, most people don’t know this, but research shows that people who wait until they’re at least 23 to get married, have a much lower divorce rate than those who marry younger.

You didn’t mention how old your girlfriend is, but I’m assuming she’s around 18 or 19. Although your marriage might work out fine if you marry during college, your chances for success will greatly increase if you give your relationship an extra year or two.

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

CLICK HERE for the audio version of this article.

Entertainment Affecting Attention Spans

America’s teachers are concerned about the impact that entertainment is having on learning.

In a new poll, 71% of teachers say they believe that entertainment is hurting their student’s attention spans, and nearly 50% believe that it’s keeping them from doing their homework well.

The study was done by Common Sense Media Research—and it described texting and spending time on social networks as “entertainment,” alongside watching television, playing video games and listening to music.

The majority of teachers believe that such media is also hurting students’ ability to write coherently and communicate face-to-face. Many teachers also say entertainment and technology are impairing critical thinking skills.

One elementary school teacher wrote this for the study, “Attention spans seem to be decreasing, as does students’ abilities to persist through difficult tasks. (They’d rather just push restart and start over.)”

By the way, another new study on the impact of technology found that the “auto-complete” functions on smartphones seem to make teens faster but less accurate in cognitive tests. Time Magazine reports that kids who are frequent texters tend to score higher in their verbal reasoning ability, but lower on actual literacy.

Scientists also believe search engines are reshaping our memories. With so much information at our fingertips, we no longer have to store it in our brains.

And while email may be an effective way to communicate on the job, employees who juggle looking at email with other tasks suffer a temporary 10-point drop in their IQ by the end of the day.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

CLICK HERE for the Audio Version of this post.

Should We Allow Our Teenage Daughter To Model?

Dear Dr. Bill,

Our 13-year-old daughter is started high school this year and wants to pursue her dream of becoming a model. Should we encourage this? My husband and I don’t see any harm in it, but some friends of ours believe it’s the worst thing we could do for our daughter. What do you think?

–Stephanie


Dear Stephanie,

I think your friends are right to be concerned. The world of professional modeling is filled with risks. It tends to be a cut-throat profession where drug and alcohol use and sexual promiscuity are the norm. Due to the emphasis on thinness, many young models suffer from eating disorders.

Modeling also places value on external beauty only, rather than internal qualities like the strength of a person’s character. The bible tells us that God is much more concerned about what’s on the inside. His wants us to focus on developing qualities like honesty, kindness, gentleness, patience, and respect.

That being said, there are professional models who are Christians. They feel called to represent Christ in that very secular atmosphere, and to share their faith with others in the entertainment business. But I’m sure they’d acknowledge the many challenges they face, and they wouldn’t advise parents to allow young girls to enter the modeling profession.

I’d suggest you have a heart-to-heart talk with your daughter and gently explain these concerns. Let her know that if she is still set on modeling as a career in a few years, you will re-visit the issue when she is 16 or 17. She’ll also need to demonstrate that she has the maturity and strength of character to handle the temptations she’ll face in that profession.

I’d also make it clear that she will need to save up her own money for things like head-shots, make-up, and the outfits she’ll need to wear for auditions. If she’s serious about getting into the modeling business, she’ll need to be responsible for the significant costs involved.

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

CLICK HERE for the audio version of this post.

A Mom Writes: “Help–Our Son is Addicted to Computer Games!”

Dear Dr. Bill,

Our 14-year-old son is very bright and enjoys strategic and technical games on the computer. We’ve tried to be careful about limiting his time, but lately his resentment over this limitation has escalated dramatically — especially when we’re getting ready for vacation or have work to do around the house.

My husband and I are wondering — is he addicted? We don’t understand why the computer can’t simply be a fun activity like watching a movie or playing games, rather than something to fight about! What should we do?

–Cheryl


Dear Cheryl,

Millions of parents in the U.S. are beginning to realize that their child may be addicted to computer or video games–something they thought was simply harmless fun.

These parents have confronted the painful reality that their son or daughter is spending countless hours each week glued to a video game console or a gaming website.

They’ve noticed disturbing changes in their child’s personality—they seem obsessed with “reaching the next level” and their friendships are limited to the “virtual” world of their online gaming community. Also, many parents are unaware that there is a disturbing link between violent video games and aggressive behavior.

Here are a few suggestions for dealing with video game addiction from authors Olivia Bruner and Vicki Caruana:

  • Set firm time limits on online gaming
  • Make sure all chores and homework are completed before play
  • Model good viewing and gaming habits yourself (that includes TV viewing)
  • Monitor your son’s attitudes and behaviors surrounding gaming

In a worse-case scenario, you may actually need to get rid of the gaming equipment or block your son’s internet access using parental controls.

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

CLICK HERE for the audio version of this post.