I remember a time when I didn’t have an email address, when I had a friend in high school who had Napster and in a good evening where no one picked up the phone  and cut the connection we could download 3 songs and couldn’t believe how fast it was. I remember a time before Facebook and Google and I don’t know if I liked it better but it was definitely different. Working with students today, they have never known a world without the internet, never learned the beauty of using a library card catalog to find a book or fumbled with a microfiche reader. There are so many redeeming and exciting things about the world that we live in now, but I am starting to think that there are some unfortunate side effects that will cause some new challenges that we need to know how to take on.

Case and point: Conflict

In the past few weeks I have had some tough conversations with several students about their life and the road it was leading them down and talked to others about pride, attitude and spiritual arrogance. In both cases ;as kindly and gracefully as I could tell them, neither have not been back to the group since our conversation. I have reached out, called, messaged and apologized for the way the conversation made them feel. As it says in Galatians 4:16 Have I become their enemy for telling them the truth? There seems to be a growing trend for students to not know how to engage with people they disagree with and would rather avoid the conflict and part of the root of this I feel is coming from the fact that:

Students don’t have to put up with anything they don’t like.

Whether its music, TV, or conversations, young people today have the world at their finger tips. If they don’t like the song, they have thousands available to them in seconds. Gone are the days of waiting for the song on the radio to finish or turning it down. Today they don’t have to put up with anyone else’s music because they can bring their own. Have you driven past a school bus of students recently? Its white ear buds from front to back. No more 99 bottles of beer on that wall. They have hundreds of TV channels plus DVRs, Youtube, Hulu, Netflix means that they never really have to watch anything that they don’t have to. Entertainment is on demand so why should people not be the same?

So logically the same expectations of instantly getting what they want enters the realm of relationships. They know what they want, and they know what they don’t. With hundreds of friends on Facebook, the moment that a relationship is not what they want anymore they switch and go find one they better. Sadly this is exactly what is happening when students experience conflict. The modern conveniences of our culture are teaching our students that compromise is not necessary or important. Teenagers can block anyone from my newsfeed whom they disagree with or don’t like. With phone in hand, the moment an event gets remotely boring or uncomfortable they reach for the phone to find something or someone better or at least less awkward than what is in front of them. They can find engaging community online with every area of interest in their life. Friends who they share common interests and  with are only a text or app away, so why would they talk to someone who might not share their thoughts / opinions? That just seems like work.

This is the challenge we are going to engage in, how do we teach students the value of healthy conflict and that you can be friends with people you don’t always agree with?  How can we go make disciples if we are unwilling to engage those whose opinions differ from ours.

In the next 2 weeks I am going to be writing a 6 part series on things we need to teach our students with our lives before we preach to them. I pray is helpful and encouraging to you. Working with students is never easy and this new generation that wants things their way or no way at all is going to be even harder to reach.

-Geoff – Twitter geoffcstewart 

Recently when downloading several large files my router would crash. I am a tech guy, I write tech articles, tech blogs so I figured I can fix this no problem. I reset my router and was on my way but my home network kept crashing. I was in the process of downloading several video podcasts and this network failure was driving me crazy! I would use the download manager that came with Firefox and every time the network went down the files needed to be redownloaded from the beginning (Yes, if I have 500MB of a 600MB file downloaded it would have to start all over again).  To remedy the issue I tried a Firefox extension that would download multiple files at once and when the system went down this extension would pick up downloading where it left off…but I would need to be at the computer to “resume” the download…Annoying.

Then I came across yazsoft.com. I do not remember how I found this site, probably in a Google search, but I found the silver bullet! Their product “Speed Download” worked in every way I needed. It downloads multiple files and will pick up downloading where it left off, even if I need to close up shop and leave my wifi connection or I experience a network failure. “Speed Download” is pretty quick too. I like that if I am downloading several large files overnight they will be on my computer, complete, when I wake up, not an error screen saying “Download Failed.”

I use this app regularly, download their free trial and check out “Speed Download” from yazsoft.com.



How to Parent in the New Digital Teenager

We are living in a time when the face of teen parenting is rapidly changing. Parents today can no longer chaperone their teenager in every conversation with their friends, or accompany them at every social event or outing, or police their daily activities. Most conversations, activities, and interaction with teenagers are taking place with no supervision, no rules, and no boundaries. Teenagers today meet, interact, and converse in an ever increasing digital manner. It seems like overnight, they’ve gone from a dial up generation to a digital log on generation. The proof is found in the increasing popularity of myspace, facebook, and two way text messaging. Education institutions and educators themselves interact just as much online with students as they do in the classrooms.

The question for parents today is simply; “How do you connect with the digital teenager, when you are use to analog parenting?” Effective parenting can no longer be a Cassette Tape or CD model. Students today only respond to the IPOD and MP3 style of communication. Do you really know what your teenager is doing? Do you know what your teenager is saying? Do you know where your teenager is going when they leave your presence? What’s really going on in their lives? How do you log into their world? A lot of what we are experiencing with students today also comes from the raise of the popular “Reality TV” shows. When I was growing up, I remember watching shows like “The Cosby Show”, “Different Strokes”, “The Facts of Life”, “Family Ties”, and “Family Matters”. Before there was a PS3′s, Xbox 360′s, and Nintendo Wii’s, there was the regular Nintendo, and Classic Arcade games like Ms. Pac Man, and Donkey Cong. Before there was an I-Phone, people communicated with Beepers and cell phones that looked like a Walkie Talkie and a Two-Way Radio. You remember; it was the cell phone Wesley Snipes used when he played Nino Brown in New Jack City (WOW!! Now there is a throw back!!!)

No longer are those simple television shows on air and no longer are those simplistic video games on the market. Today, we live in a 24/7 connected world where what’s called “age compression” is happening with teenagers. What was the norm for a 20-year old 10 years ago has become the norm for a 14-year old today. That is AMAZING to me!!! While nothing has changed in your biblical responsibility and obligation to parent, the means by which you must become more involved in your teen’s life have become more abundant, creative, and digital.

More than likely, your teenager is increasingly living out their lives online. They’re engaging in deep, intimate, and intense personal conversations online that you REALLY need to be aware of! These deep, intimate, and intense conversations are being broadcast daily on the World Wide Web at a virtually unstoppable pace. To put it mildly, your teenager’s heart, soul, thoughts, and ideas are being exposed on the internet for the entire world to see. There was a recent study released that said 58% of girls and 51% of boys ages 12 – 17 have created an online profile. The number is the highest with boys and girls between the ages of 15 – 17 with 70% being girls and 57% being boys. If you are interested in getting an idea of what I’m talking about, check out www.myspace.com/pastorjwallace, stroll down to my friend list and click view all. As you scroll through my friends, you will see several pictures of students. Click on the picture of the student and check out their virtual world!
I wanted to give you these facts to alarm you of the dangers of the internet as well as the opportunities it presents to be involved in your teenagers life. Effective parenting in 2008 has to move from just preparation for college, the purchase of the first car, and cooking 101. Those things are important and necessary; however, parenting also needs to include the prevention of the multi media traps and pitfalls that are overtaking this generation. Simply put, effective HD PARENTING must include being preventive more so than reactionary! You’re going to have to log on if you want to get connected.

In closing, I would like to share with you some facts a good friend of mine, Ron Luce shares on his website www.battlecry.com. Here is the magnitude of influence multi media has on this generation. He reports:

ATTACK ON A GENERATION

Today’s teens are being attacked by popular culture like no other generation. Hollywood, the music industry, advertisers, and even the mainstream media are using their arsenal of tools to win the battle for our teens’ hearts- and so far they are winning! In order to defeat our enemy, we must know how it thinks and understand the weapons it uses. It is critical that we realize how far-reaching the crisis is- and then we must work together to stop it.

TELEVISION
This generation views 16 to 17 hours of television each week and sees on average 14,000 sexual scenes and references each year. That’s more than 38 references every day.

INTERNET
This generation spends three hours a day online and is the first to grow up with point-and-click pornography. Almost 90 percent of teens have viewed pornography online at one of the 300,000 adult websites, most while doing homework.

MUSIC
More than 25 percent of teen-targeted radio segments contain sexual content; 42 percent of the top selling CDs contain sexual content

ADVERTISING
With more than $128 billion dollars in their pockets, this generation has been targeted by corporate America, who does everything it can to grow brands and profits without any regard to the moral decay of a generation.

In the state of Georgia, there are a total of 906,000 students between the ages of 13 – 18. Only 4% of those students are actively engaged in a local church. Leaving a staggering number of 869,760 LOST STUDENTS IN THE STATE OF GEORGIA ALONE!!! Just imagine the national average!

If we are truly going to be the church of Jesus Christ, these facts must matter enough to keep us up at night praying to God for answers as to how WE can make a difference and impart Godly wisdom and influence to a generation that so desperately needs it and us! May God continue to bless and keep you and your family!