Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Darn technology distracting us from each other!!

The fact is technology, at each advancement, has distracted us from each other...

However, without a doubt, the number one question I get now-a-days, from parents of teens, is: What do I do about their cellphone!?  I will admit, cellphones have changed the game and probably made the distractions from each other worse...

If you're like me, you watched that video and just feel so guilty.  I hope that today you put the phone down and spend some quality time with friends and family!!  However, I don't want you do just feel guilty today, so take 3-minutes and watch this: click here!!

When it comes to social media and specifically cellphones I don't think I need statistics to sell this point (but if you're 'that guy' here you go)... So what can we do about it!?

  • Cellphone Saftey: Locate your son/daughter in an emergency, Block "adult" content, using restrictions for installing apps, in-app purchases, etc.
  • Limit cellphone use in general
  • Monitor text messages on their phone (yes, you can still get a print out of your son/daughter's text messages but because of the 2006 Consumer Telephone Records Protection Act you will have to go to court to make that happen)
  • Specific links for each major telephone provider: AT&TSprint & Verizon
  • Here's a list of apps parents should be aware of: Click here (Also see: Omegle)
Though the links above are very practical ideas and tools you can implement immediately.  The ultimate goal of any parent is to: 
  1. Be the example you want to see in all areas of life
  2. Discuss with them helpful boundaries for phones and other activities
  3. Empower them to make positive choices themselves!!
I can't recommend a cellphone contract enough for parents and their teens.  Here's a free one I found online (click here) or even go another step further and pic up this really great read "Should I SMASH My Kid's Phone?"

Last thought... Maybe you are one of the lucky ones and your son or daughter is being very responsible with their cellphone use regarding apps, pornography, bullying, etc.  But did you know that LOTS of studies have been published recently discussing the fact that standard cellphone use (just texting, talking, etc.) is very harmful to sleep, anxiety and even lower grades!!  The fact is, because of the "instant" access cellphones give us, teens feel they must "be there" for their friends no matter the hour.

Remember, you need to be an example... So texting them when they are in class or even having your phone out at all hours of the night is not setting them up for success!!  

PLEASE set healthy boundaries with your teen... Utilize the 'Do Not Disturb' feature and have a "charging station" for your cellphones (Yeah, I linked Pinterest, get over it)!!  

**If you are interested in my personal three-hour training of the '10 Things YOU Should Know About Teens & Tweens' please e-mail me for a FREE copy of the manuel and video link!!

**Follow Jeff, also known as "surgeberg" on: FacebookTwitter & Instagram**Follow Jeff (Family Pastor of High School), also known as "surgeberg" on: FacebookTwitter & Instagram

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

10 Apps You Should Be Aware Of

I was just getting used to Facebook too… Last week I read an article by ‘Time Magazine’ that said “over 11 million young people have fled facebook since 2011” (Read article here).

Though I had noticed this taking place with the students I have regular contact with I hadn’t read anything definitive on it nationally.  So why is this happening?  As the article hints, “It’s lost its cool cachet” but when I talk with teens I sometimes hear a different tune. Some say: “I don’t want to read all the ‘reposts’ of articles”, others: “I just like seeing pictures” or my personal favorite:  “my parents are on it!!”  So where does that leave us? What are they doing and how can I help equip others.  Let me give a quick disclaimer that if our goal is spying (“creeping” if you want the technical teen term) than we are simply going to see the ‘herd’ move to another place before we ever got used to this one.  It’s almost like we have the opportunity to be a “national geographic photographer” in the wild.  If we make too much noise or interfere with the “animals” they are simply going to run away.  But if we sit tight and watch from a distance we can observe the “wild” in its natural environment and really see what they do and who they hang out with… In essence, who they are at their core (or at least who they are experimenting with being)!!  I’m not saying don’t be involved, but consider listening, learning, ‘liking’ a few pics, etc. before firing the critical comment that’s going to get us ‘blocked’ or just hesitation from them being them. What the school was to the 60-70s kid, the mall was to the 80-90s kid, the Internet is to the millennial (kids today).

All that being said… Here’s a list of top ‘apps’ (since most teens engage the internet via their phones far more that their computer), students I've worked with, are using and a list of apps you should be aware of as a parent.

Top apps used by NBHighSchool students:
#1 Instagram (Hands down #1 with our students and nationally among teens)
#2 Facebook & Twitter
#4 iFunny

Jeff’s top 10 social networks to be aware of’… Disclaimer: I am NOT saying these are all bad!  I am providing information and my opinion that parents should be engaged and some what “in the know” of what is possibly on your son or daughters iPhone, iPod, etc.  I also think you are one of the best identifiers to whether it’s an addiction or not (Having heard a lot of adults say they are addicted ‘CandyCrush’ you may know what I mean!).

#10 Pandora & Spotify
I hesitate putting either of these two apps on the list but I have a lot of questions regularly about music (“Have you heard of this group”, “Is this song popular now”, “I had no clue that’s what that said”, etc.).  As I write this I’m using my Spotify app and listening to ‘Billboard Hot 100’ playlist trying to get caught up on what’s popular right now (most of the time not what I enjoy listening too anymore J).  That all being said, just be aware that both these apps provide the opportunity to listen to any and all music without restriction or censorship.  This means they may not have the songs or band you’ve said ‘no’ to on their phone but they may have a playlist with them on their app.

#9 iFunny
This app is essentially just giving you access to an online world of pictures “of fun made to your taste.”  You can figure out by their own description that they are all over the map: “simulated gambling”, “mild alcohol, tobacco or drug use”, “frequent/intense prolonged graphic or sadistic realistic violence”, “crude humor”, “Mature/suggestive themes”, etc.  Are some of the pics funny and clean, sure… You may have to wade through the ‘muck’ to get there though.  *Also “you must be at least 17 years old to download this app” (or at list click a button that you promise you are)!

#8 Vine
“Tween and teen Vine users are most likely to create silly six-second videos (like their parents do), but there’s also a ton of really inappropriate content, both violent and sexual, on Vine. While Vine Labs has taken steps to restrict access to explicit videos, they’re still out there in spades. Vine has recently been used to document animal cruelty by teens, and it’s also been linked to bullying, including video of kids who weren’t aware they were being recorded.”

The app (and accompanying website) is intended to be a friendly Q+A forum to get to know people better. In reality, it’s rife with bullying and sexually charged discussion. To say the least. Questions can be answered anonymously, which adds to the potential for kids to make comments that they wouldn’t if they could be identified. If you happen to notice this on your kid’s phone, be aware that concerns about are incredibly serious: It’s been implicated as a factor in five teen suicides.”

#6 Tinder
“We really wish we didn’t have to include the online dating app Tinder in this list, but we do–because kids are using it. (We know. We’re feeling pretty gross about that too.) Teens like Tinder because it only matches you with people who like you back, and that provides some major positive reinforcement, which makes them want to keep using it. Yeah, we’ve come a long way from simply mustering up the courage to talk to the cute guy in Bio class… Tinder especially concerns us because matches are limited to a geographic area, which means kids are connecting with people in the local area who uh, may not actually be other kids.”

#5 Kik
“Messenger This app is known for its quick instant messaging and allows users to exchange videos, pictures, and sketches made through the app. Sounds fun, right? Well yes, it can be. But many teens use the app for sexting and dating purposes as well. The term “sex buddy” is being replaced with “Kik buddy.” Did that get your attention? By use of social media websites, teens have reportedly placed classified ads for sex by providing users with their Kick username. Additionally, Kik does not have any parental controls and there is no way of authenticating users, which makes it easy for underage users as well as pedophiles to use the messenger app.”

“This groundbreaking site lets anyone engage in video chat via webcam with random strangers. Users under 18 are prohibited, as is nudity, but nobody's checking IDs at the door or making sure everyone is wearing pants (trust me, they aren't). And if you do get booted for violating those terms, there are lookalike services (like Omegle, ChatRandom, or DirtyRoulette) with even fewer restrictions.”
*Though this is not an app (because it requires ‘flash’ which is Apple has not made available on the iPhone, unless ‘Jailbroken’) it can be accessed on any phone with Adobe Flash.

#3 Whisper
“Whisper is a confession app for teenagers that allows users to superimpose self-written text over a picture of their choice. What makes the app interesting is that the users are anonymous and thus, so are the secrets they post. Whisper provides a sense of freedom for young users to share their feelings, emotions, and confessions to others without their identity being revealed. However, this app has commonly used for bullying… Because users are anonymous, teens have posted photographs of other teens with inappropriate text superimposed over the image. Additionally, the anonymous aspect means that users do not have to register and that there is no user profile.” *See also PostSecret.

Yes, SnapChat is one of the most used apps at NBHighSchool and the country AND is also my number two of most concerning (it’s probably a toss up with Omegle).  So what is it?  In short it’s an app that gives you the ability to send picture texts that disappear. Pretty obvious what can happen in a conversation between teens who think whatever they say cannot be traced!  Couple quick thoughts: it was created to sext, you can take screen shots and save them to your phone’s photo library, SnapChat does have the ability to retrieve ‘snaps’ from any user after they “disappear”.  I personally have been wrestling hard with my stance on SnapChat for months knowing it’s such a quick and easy way to communicate (and fun) but recently decided to go ahead and delete it and would encourage you to do the same (Click here to read a post with some great points you might not have thought about).

#1 Omegle: Talk to Strangers! (Yes, this is their real tagline)
“Omegle has been around since 2008, with video chat added in 2009.  When you use Omegle you do not identify yourself through the service – chat participants are only identified as “You” and “Stranger”.  From there however, anything goes – certainly a chat participant may decide to give their name, location, age and other personal information…The Omegle homepage clearly states that the service is not for those under 13: “Do not use Omegle if you are under 13. If you are under 18, use it only with a parent/guardian’s permission.”  I’m guessing that not too many 16 year olds are asking mom or dad for the okay… Note: Using video chat requires that your computer’s IP address is made available to the stranger’s computer:  “Omegle video chat requires a direct connection to be made between your computer and the other user’s computer…”  At the end of an Omegle chat, users have the option to save the chat’s log and share the link.”
*Personal note: I know of more than one student in counseling and with law enforcement involved for some of the things that went on during their time on Omegle.


**If you are interested in my personal three-hour training of the '10 Things YOU Should Know About Teens & Tweens' please e-mail me for a FREE copy of the manuel and video link!!

**Follow Jeff, also known as "surgeberg" on: FacebookTwitter & Instagram

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

We have to start somewhere...

Over the past several months I have been consumed with the reality of Human Trafficking (Read more about what our students have been doing about it here).  The hardest thing, to me, about HT is that it's not a problem overseas any more... The number one destination for Trafficked Humans is now the United States of America.  Meaning, we consume more slaves (some for work but mostly for sex) than any other country in the world!!  So... Why are we number one and How did that happen!?  The answer can be derived from one specific statistic: "87% of adults admit to using porn in the past month"

Did that statistic not shock you!?  How about these:
   - The porn industry generates $13 BILLION each year in the U.S.
   - 9 out of 10 boys were exposed to pornography before the age of 18
   - 88% of scenes in porn films contain acts of physical aggression
   - 51% of pastors say Internet pornography is a temptation (Yes, no one is except)
(Want more shocking statistics, click here)

"People tell themselves that pornography is a harmless past time, a form of entertainment, or a freedom of expression covered under the 1st amendment. After all, God invented sex. However, it is not harmless, entertaining, or a freedom for the people who appear in porn movies and photographs...At the 2010 panel event, Slavery Today: Sex Labor & Pornography, panelist discussed how porn has become the foundation to the human trafficking business. Lots of pornography features trafficked women and teenagers. The pornography business justifies the buying and selling of women and young girls."  (Read more from this article here)

Many experts say: "Pornography is the marijuana, gateway drug, to Human Trafficking"


1) Start by evaluating your heart... Do I have a problem with Pornography?
          a) Admit you have a problem
          b) Tell someone you can trust
          c) Get help: Changing Lanes Ministries or Break Porn Habits in 90 Days
          d) Don't quit!!

2) Is your home 'safe'... Have I taken steps to protect my family?
          a) Talk about online boundaries and standards in your home
          b) Set all parental locks (Mac or Windows)
          c) Install Online Accountability (Don't let money stop you: X3Watch)
          d) Install Smart Phone Accountability*
*100% of the students I, Jeff, asked will use their phone to look up porn not the computer

3) Learn more about Human Trafficking and what you can do locally!
          a) Find out what the BGCO is already doing (Fighting Porn & Human Trafficking)
          b) Attend a local meeting (4th Thursday of each month at Kirk of the Hills)
          c) Get involved with DaySpring Villa 

Couple more Free Resources to take a look at:
The Power of Pornography (Dr. Jim Burns audio message)

**If you are interested in my personal three-hour training of the '10 Things YOU Should Know About Teens & Tweens' please e-mail me for a FREE copy of the manuel and video link!!

**Follow Jeff, also known as "surgeberg" on: FacebookTwitter & Instagram

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Tips to Deal with Bullying

No doubt if you live in our area you have caught wind of the "SnowBunny6".  If you haven't here's a quick link to get you up to speed (Click Here).  I'm not sure what's going to happen with this law suit but I do hope it opens up more conversation on what is Bullying, is it happening with your children (victim or aggressor) and education about suicide (we've lost too many kids to this: 4,400 a year, with 100 attempts for every "successful" suicide).   

Two weeks ago we covered a different hot topic for parents (Phone Apps to be aware of,Click Here to read more) and I thought Bullying would be a great way to continue our series '10 Things', this week. 

If you haven't personally be affected by bullying in some way I would ask you take 4-minutes and watch the video below.  I've seen in dozens of times and it continues to remind me why I do what I do.

According to Wikipedia: "Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively impose domination over others. The behavior is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception, by the bully or by others, of an imbalance of social or physical power."

The legal word for bullying is harassment.  Harassment can result in you having a restraining order placed against you.  As a teen, having a restraining order placed on you by another student at your school can result in you not being able to attend school or school functions (track meets, proms, etc); the restraining order stays with you for 3 years and depending on how old you are at the time of the restraining order, can follow you to college.  Also restraining orders are made public even if you are a minor.

Where is it going on... 
- Everywhere (School, Mall, Church, Home, etc.)
*Online (Cyberbullying: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)

What they (your son or daughter) can do...
- Stop... Think... Choose
- Ask yourself what is the bully doing?
- State what you want ("Stop pushing me")
- Get away... Find Safety if possible
- Let someone of authority know immediately  

What we can do…
Communicate with our kids
- Be aware of where our teens & tweens go online/after school
- Develop and enforce rules
- Know our school and other social places’ rules
- Join the movement: The Bully Project

Warning signs…
-       Being Bullied
o   Comes home with damaged or missing clothing (didn’t eat lunch)
o   Reports losing items such as books, electronics, clothing, or jewelry
o   Has trouble sleeping or has frequent bad dreams
o   Loses interest in visiting or talking with friends (appears moody, anxious)
o   Is afraid of going to school or other activities with peers (performing poorly)

-       Bullying Others
o   Becomes violent with others
o   Gets into physical or verbal fights with others
o   Has extra money or new belongings that cannot be explained
o   Will not accept responsibility for their actions
o   Has friends who bully others

**Bullying is the #1 reason for School Violence 

National Suicide Hotline: 1 (800) 273-8255

May we love others as much as ourselves.  May we see the needs and feel compassion for your children.  May You give us the courage to stand up to bullying when we see it.  May we learn more about injustice and how You feel about it.  May Your Son be the example of the love we should show others.  May Your Spirit lead us into conversations that could bring healing.  May You please protect our kids from others and the evil one.  May we find joy and hope for tomorrow!!

**If you are interested in my personal three-hour training of the '10 Things YOU Should Know About Teens & Tweens' please e-mail me for a FREE copy of the manuel and video link!!

**Follow Jeff, also known as "surgeberg" on: FacebookTwitter & Instagram