Why screen time inhibits toddler development

Posted on: 02/14/19 10:00 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Where’s Nathan?

I just changed his diaper and plopped him in front of the TV… again.

Any theories why Nathan doesn’t walk yet?

It’s probably not a surprise to you to hear that if we plop our toddlers down in front of a screen it hurts their development. We’ve heard the arguments before. Too much screen time has negative effects all around. And some experts even push back and try to contest it.

But according to a new study from the University of Calgary, the results are pretty clear about the effects of screen time on young kids.

“Greater screen time at 24 months was associated with poorer performance on developmental screening tests at 36 months, and similarly, greater screen time at 36 months was associated with lower scores on developmental screening tests at 60 months.”

The element I find intriguing is why.

Why?

“A lot of the positive stimulation that helps kids with their physical and cognitive development comes from interactions with caregivers.”

There it is once again—the indisputable fact. Kids need face-to-face interactions with Mom and Dad.

This wasn’t the only reason why. Experts also noticed that inactive kids tended to not develop motor skills or hand-eye coordination (more reasons to discourage too much screen time). But the big reason kids were missing key developmental skills was because they missed out on crucial interaction with parents.

Do we really need an expert to tell us that our kids need our love and attention?

It’s the one element that everyone always seems to agree on, regardless of the study. Experts argue about the effects of entertainment media until they’re blue in the face (although I’ve never actually seen someone turn blue when arguing about entertainment media), but they’ll always all agree on this one conclusion. Interaction with Mom and Dad is crucial.

Maybe your kids aren’t toddlers anymore. Maybe they’re tweens or teens. Then quantity time matters even more.

Have you connected with your kids face to face this week?

Resisting the Urge to Talk Teen

Posted on: 01/24/19 9:45 AM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s funny how often I see “old people” like me trying so hard to be current with “young people.”

Today I was on a middle school campus hanging out with young people and I noticed something. They don’t care whether I’m wearing the newest Vans (you know, the kind that looks like a checkerboard), or if I use the current teen talk (“Man, that’s sus!”) … they just care that I’m there to listen.

And that’s the secret to talking teen: just shut up and listen.

Yes, there’s a balance to this. Let me address youth workers for a moment. I’ve heard youth workers say, “You just gotta be YOU!” And while I agree that you shouldn’t try to be something you’re not, at the same time, if YOU are a slob who doesn’t shower or who hasn’t updated their wardrobe since the 80’s, a shower and a trip to Target wouldn’t hurt.

No, you don’t need to go to Tilly’s, buy Van’s and a Sweatshirt (with the word Champions strewn all over it) and invite kids to youth group because “It’s lit!” We don’t need to try to “attract” teenagers.

But it would be nice to not repel them either.

The key? Don’t try too hard. Pray that God will give you peace so you don’t feel awkward. Just be ready to listen. Engage kids in conversation.

It’s January—ask them,

“So what did you do for Christmas?”

“What was your favorite gift you received?”

“What was your favorite gift you gave?”

Or if they care about their appearance (which not every middle school kid does, but if they do) ask about what they’re wearing.

“Nice Vans. Where did you get them?”

“If you had $100 to shop at any store where would you shop?”

Whether you’re a parent, teacher or youth worker. Ask questions. Listen.

Then you won’t be so “awk.” (Sorry, that slipped out.)

Netflix’s “Sex Education”

Posted on: 01/9/19 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

It premieres on Netflix in just two days, but it’s probably not what you think when you hear the words “sex education.”

In a world where many parents really struggle with how and when to engage their kids in “the talk”… Netflix is launching a show that once again (yes, they did the same thing with Big Mouth) is either addressing or exploiting—you decide—the subject that isn’t talked about much in most homes. But from the world’s perspective, of course.

Teen Vogue describes it as Big Mouth meets Degrassi and the trailer speaks volumes about what you can expect:

The interesting thing about sexually charged media is that the creators always claim they are just portraying a realistic glimpse of today’s youth culture. Occasionally I’ve seen films do this (remember Thirteen?), but most the time these types of entertainment media serve more as an influencer of how to behave than a representation of how kids are already behaving (something I address to teens in my The Teen’s Guide to Social Media and Mobile Devices).

A character in the show claims, “Everybody’s either thinking about shagging, about to shag, or actually shagging.”

Is that true?

Is there a chance that the pre-pubescent freshman who can’t stop playing Fortnite isn’t even curious about sex yet… or do we need to consider having these conversations a little earlier?

I guess that depends.

Do you want to be the one to tell your kids the truth about this subject, or would you rather wait until they hear the lies first?

So how can you engage your kids in conversation about this important topic?

For more help becoming your kids Go-To person about sex, take a peek at Jonathan’s books, More Than Just the Talk (for parents) and Sex Matters (for young people). Or Pre-order Jonathan’s newest book for guys, The Guy’s Guide to Four Battles Every Young Man Must Face.

Teens and Social Media

Posted on: 12/28/18 11:17 AM | by Jonathan McKee

If you happened to turn on Christian radio the day after Christmas you might have caught Focus on the Family President Jim Daly and I talking about teens and social media on their daily broadcast. They re-aired it December 26th because they said it was one of their most popular broadcasts of the year.

They just released the FULL video of the show in case you missed it:

Amazon has the The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices on sale HERE

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 Continue reading “Depreciating Morality in the Top Music” »

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

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” »

Does Google and Apple care about your kids’ digital addiction?

Posted on: 06/5/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Yes and finally yes? (It’s about time!)

We’ve all heard stories of tech companies concocting evil plans to launch new gadgets and apps addicting children to their devices. Sound like a rumor? Sadly, these legends have proved to be true on many levels. Like when former Facebook president Sean Parker had second thoughts about what the social network was doing to our children’s brains and cast a little insight behind the scenes.

“It was developed to be addictive,” he admitted.

He wasn’t alone in his concerns. In fact a Continue reading “Does Google and Apple care about your kids’ digital addiction?” »

Four conversations parents must have

Posted on: 04/17/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

As requests are coming in for speaking this fall, I wanted to let you know about a new workshop I’m launching… FOUR CONVERSATIONS! It’s the first parent workshop I’m doing where I have parents and kids in the same room!

Right now my go-to workshop for parents is PARENTING THE SMARTPHONE GENERATION… I taught this workshop in almost 30 churches in the U.S. last year Continue reading “Four conversations parents must have” »

Lil Dicky gets a lil raunchy (and how parents should respond)

Posted on: 04/10/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

The song debuted in the top 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100. The music video is full of celebrity cameos and has already garnered over 100 million views. When I mentioned that particular song speaking at a church last Sunday morning, teens in the audience literally shouted, “Yeah!” in acclamation (and I mentioned about a dozen songs).

I’m talking about the brand new racy music video from Lil Dicky, Freaky Friday, where Lil Dicky wakes up as Chris Brown and Chris Brown as Lil Dicky. The music video is creative, kids think it’s hilarious, and it’s full of sexual references and imagery. Continue reading “Lil Dicky gets a lil raunchy (and how parents should respond)” »