RECENT BLOG POSTS

giving the first 100 of you my school shooting book

Posted on: 08/21/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s a sobering glimpse into a high school campus through the eyes of today’s teenagers and it releases this month in print! (you know… real books with actual pages!)   🙂

This new piece of fiction is titled Bystanders, and I thought I’d give away the print version to the first 100 of my U.S. blog readers who would love to read it… with one condition: you read it.  (Sorry those outside the U.S., I love you, I honestly just can’t afford the shipping. Buy the Kindle version!)

Seriously. And if you like it post about it! (literally a picture of the cover on Insta with your one sentence praise, or a Facebook post… whatever.)

It’s my first fiction novel (although my Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide sure had elements of one) and I’m using it as a tool to open up meaningful conversation about bullying, faith, hypocrisy, self esteem, etc.

The story focuses on three kids: Kari, Michael, and Brett… and one of them is pushed beyond the tipping point. The language is PG-13 and the conversations are very real (I’ve had over 100 youth workers and teens screen the book for me). Many of these situations are based off of real accounts. It’s an eye-opening peek into bullying culture for youth workers and parents, and a great springboard for faith conversations with high school students.

If you’re in the U.S. and you’d like a copy, I’ll send you one free. Just follow these simple directions:

  1. Hit me with a comment below saying your name, city and U.S. state, and why you want to read the book.
  2. If you’re one of the first 100 U.S. people to respond below, then I’ll contact you and ask you for your address and mail this to you within the month.

And of the rest of you, you can grab the Kindle version today or keep watching for it to arrive on print (should be in the next month).

SIDE NOTE: If this topic of bullying interests you, stay tuned, because Focus on the Family is having me do a show with them November 1, the day my brand new book, The Bullying Breakthrough releases.

Depreciating Morality in the Top Music

Posted on: 08/14/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Popular music always has provided a few vile examples that made grandmother gasp…

But never like today.

We’ve come a long way from “Like a Virgin” being shocking. In fact we’ve come a long way from, “I Kissed a Girl.” Sure we’ve seen some raunchy lyrics from top artists before… but never so potent at the top of the charts.

So far this month the Billboard Hot 100 has only one song that is not explicit in the top 10. And those that are… really push the envelope.

Drake’s song, In My Feelings, currently at No. 1, is probably one of the cleaner songs in the charts… that is… if you ignore the sampling of Lil Wayne & Magnolia Shorty near the end of the song with the lyrics:

Bring that a*s, bring that a*s, bring that a*s back!
B-bring that a*s, bring that a*s, bring that a*s back!
Shawty say the nigga that she with can’t hit
But shawty, I’ma hit it, hit it like I can’t miss
Now let me see you
Clap that a*s, you’re the only one I love
Clap that a*s, clap-clap that a*s!

This sampling (hip hop songs often “sample” or “mix” in earlier songs) is from Lollipop, Lil Wayne’s 2008 hit about oral sex.

Does it seem incongruous that I’m citing a current song which is sampling a 10-year-old song to prove my point that music is getting worse? Yeah… it was pretty bad in 2008 too… but three big differences:

  1. The top of the charts weren’t quite as potent with descriptions of sexual acts or the casual references to gunning others down  (close, but not quite)
  2. In 2008 teens didn’t have smartphones in their pockets (the iPhone only came out in 2007), they didn’t stream… Spotify wasn’t even a thing. Explicit music had a few more guardrails than now. (Now 97% of U.S. teens have access to a smartphone.)
  3. For the same reason I just mentioned, kids listened to less music in 2008 than now. In fact, America just upped their music listening by 47 minutes a day last year alone! (And adults just upped their daily media usage by 36 minutes in the last six months!)

So now when today’s top hits are more sexually charged… more kids hear it.

Cardi B’s song I Like it Like That, currently at No. 2 on the charts is actually pretty clean for Cardi B. Of course, you wouldn’t know it because much of it is in Spanish. But for those who speak Spanish, they’ll hear:

I like puerto rican girls, I like cuban girls
I like the columbian accent
How dominican girls move their a**es
How good venezuelan girls f**k…

As if that wasn’t explicit enough, the current No. 3 song on the charts is from a guy named 6ix9ine who joined with Nicki Minaj for a song called Fefe, which apparently is a prison term for something manmade (often made from a toilet paper roll) that provides sexual fulfillment. In this song the young rapper makes it clear what he thinks of women, how he treats women, questioning why he even “hit that” (had sex with her) and giving us waaaaaaaaay more description than we want (Where’s the #MeToo movement when you need it? Oh… I guess lyrics get a pass.)

Here’s the opening lyrics from 6ix9ine:

P**sy got that wet, wet, got that drip, drip
Got that super soaker, hit that, she a Fefe
Her name Keke, she eat my d**k like it’s free, free
I don’t even know like “Why I did that?”
I don’t even know like “Why I hit that?”
All I know is that I just can’t wife that
Talk to her nice so she won’t fight back
Turn around and hit it from the back, back, back
Bend her down then I make it clap, clap, clap

Nice.

And we haven’t even left the top 3 songs. I’ll let you Google the lyrics for the rest of the top 10. It’s more of the same. (Funny… one year ago I wrote a post with the latest research on “do the lyrics really affect me?”… and I made the comment, “I’ve never seen the charts this bad.”)

Remember the good ol’ days when Katy Perry just told our kids to “go all the way tonight”?

Do you know what your kids are listening to?

Are you engaging them in meaningful discussion about what they hear?

Walking Through Social Media Safety with Jim Daly

Posted on: 08/6/18 11:20 AM | by Jonathan McKee

My Interview on
Focus on the Family
This Wednesday

I always enjoy the dialogue with Jim and John when I’m invited to be a guest on the Focus on the Family daily broadcast. On this Wednesday’s broadcast Jim interviewed me about my new book The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices, asking how it can help parents open up this important dialogue with their kids. At this point in the interview he asked me how to help parents engage in a conversation about online safety in a way that kids will actually listen.

Here’s my reply:

You can catch the whole show on their broadcast this Wednesday on Focus on the Family… or online at FocusOnTheFamily.com

Two Completely Different Theologies… both Reaching LGBTQ Kids

Posted on: 08/2/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

In the last few months, in preparation for our upcoming Anchored Leadership Conference, I’ve been conducting interviews with people who are effectively reaching out to young people identifying as LGBTQ. I’ve been engaging in these conversations for several reasons:

  1. I want to learn as much as I can about how to help this hurting group of young people.
  2. I want to know how loving ministries can answer tough questions, like Continue reading “Two Completely Different Theologies… both Reaching LGBTQ Kids” »

The Newest on Teens, Social Media & Technology

Posted on: 07/24/18 3:33 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Pew Research just released their newest report on Teens, Social Media & Technology giving us the newest numbers confirming what we already knew: almost all teens have smartphones and use social media a lot!

But their numbers also revealed some interesting realities about where teens navigate and their perceptions about social media. Here are some random facts that stood out to me from their report:

Just do you

Posted on: 07/12/18 6:35 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Next week I’ll be at a conference speaking to young people about deciphering truth in the midst of lies. We’ll be looking at several influences like social media, music and other entertainment media, observing the subtle messages they communicate.

Let’s try one.

Here’s a Diet Coke commercial you may have seen– I saw it in a movie theater before the most recent Avengers movie Continue reading “Just do you” »

Dear Costco Food Court

Posted on: 07/10/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

The polish dog, the hand-dipped ice cream bar, the chocolate swirl frozen yogurt… all gone! Costco, here are 7 bad decisions you made in your food court that are costing you loyal customers like me.

And I was loyal. My wife teased me that Costco food court was my favorite restaurant. Your food court is indubitably better than the completion, hence my surprise. Is there new management or are you just getting sloppy?

My go-to order back in the day was your polish dog meal, half of a piece of pizza (my son gladly added the other half to his pile), and your hand dipped ice cream bar with almonds for dessert. Sadly, I can’t order most of these now. (Oh the nostalgia.)

I’ve heard from your employees about your Continue reading “Dear Costco Food Court” »

Helping Bullied, Bullies AND Bystanders

Posted on: 06/28/18 3:23 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Today I’m working on a brand new workshop for parents, teachers and youth workers helping kids experiencing bullying.

Notice I didn’t say “helping kids who are bullied.” This is where my training will immediately differ from others. I’m not just advocating help for kids who have been picked on, but help for the bullied, bullies and bystanders. After hundreds of interviews and 100+ hours of research for my upcoming book The Bullying Breakthrough… I found that most kids fall into one of three categories Continue reading “Helping Bullied, Bullies AND Bystanders” »

The CDC, teen risks, and who is vulnerable

Posted on: 06/19/18 3:40 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Fewer high school students are drinking, having sex and using drugs… but the CDC still says the findings of their most recent teen risk assessment “leaves room for concern.”

And please don’t undervalue my use of the word “fewer.” I really mean “a whole bunch!” We’re not talking a few percentage points. For example, in 1997 a whopping 37% of kids “currently” smoked cigarettes (in the 30 days prior to the survey). In 2017 only 8% “currently” smoke cigarettes. That’s a huge decrease!

Why is this? Why the overwhelming decrease in the number of kids engaging in many of these risky behaviors, and what are these concerns the CDC is referencing about their new survey results?

Let me give you the quick answers:

Why are today’s kids engaging in less sex, taking less drugs… even smoking less marijuana (yes, really) …than kids in years prior? A few months ago Continue reading “The CDC, teen risks, and who is vulnerable” »

Helping Teens Press Pause

Posted on: 06/12/18 1:00 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Whenever I talk with young people about their mobile devices I ask, “How many of you think people are spending too much time staring at their devices?” An overwhelming majority of hands will go up.

Yet if you followed those same teens for 24 hours, you’d probably catch them “spending too much time staring at their devices.” (And before we start labeling anyone hypocritical… adults are in the same boat).

Let’s review. Teens are aware that phones monopolize too much of their time, but they aren’t really doing much about it.

So why not Continue reading “Helping Teens Press Pause” »