Archive for the ‘Media and Entertainment’ Category

When Social Media, Politics and Morality Collide–What Do You Say?

June 14, 2011

To use a phrase a friend of mine used all the time in high school (and apologies to cat-lovers), “you can’t swing a dead cat without” hearing about the latest development in the Anthony Weiner Twitter scandal.

“I told you that social media stuff is the bane of our society”

“There isn’t a good politician out there–they are all corrupt”

You may not have heard these exact phrases but there are sentiments of each of them in every news story, blog post or twitter message being sent about this story.  On the DadPad, we typically discuss issues related to being a dad so why address THIS issue.  As I sat and thought about what’s happening and since I’m a social media consultant, there are a number of angles to write and comment about when it comes to these kind of stories.  But what do I do with them as a father?  Seems to me that these are GREAT places to engage in discussions about a lot of things with our kids, using age appropriate terms and detail.

So, is the real evil the social media tool?  Is Twitter to blame?  Church leadership has “banned” Facebook use for some of its leaders to remove the temptation for flirtation or more explicitly deviant uses.  I applaud men with weakness to “run” from the temptation in their lives, no matter the form or vehicle of delivery.  But, is the answer simply to blame the tool and pretend it doesn’t exist without regard to the user?  Here’s the truth..social media is here to stay.  We better learn how to use it for good and not just ignore it like it didn’t exist.

And, we certainly have heard about politicians who’ve abused their status and power for sex, money and position.  So, do we simply blame Anthony Weiner for being a politician as if had he been a plumber or accountant, this wouldn’t have happened?  The issue is much less about his role as a politician than that he is a human being.  This doesn’t excuse his behavior but, instead, lays the problem squarely on his shoulders as someone who made a very poor decision, or series of them.  Isn’t that usually the case with these situations?   The media and public sentiment can do all they can to find out the ramifications of being a politician and the temptations that they or athletes or actors face because of their position, but in the end, it’s all about poor judgement…poor choices.

The truth is that the heart of the problem always lies in one place…the heart of the man (or woman).  This is a great chance to discuss issues of morality with your kids.  We live in a culture that is constantly trying to place blame everywhere but where it belongs…with the person who committed the act of indecency, immorality or illegality.  Certainly access to tools that allow us as sinful men and women to more easily carry out inward thoughts and turn them into external actions have played a part in more widespread distasteful acts by humans at large.  But are the tools to BLAME?  Without going into a longer post about this, I can, with confidence state, “No”.  The problem isn’t the tool.  It’s the tool holder.  If I put a hole in the wrong wall with a hammer, is the hammer to blame?  Maybe I should have held the architectural drawings right-side up.  This is all good fodder for a discussion with your children–especially a generation that is growing up native to the use of texting, Twitter, Facebook and other forms of online networking.  And, they are growing continually wary of politicians, musicians, actors and athletes who abuse their position for personal gain, as if they were above the law.  But, is it their position that is to BLAME?  Again, I don’t think so.  Because of their notoriety, they are more subject to commit these acts than you or I might be.  Yet, if we simply place the blame on their fame, we completely miss the mark.

Ultimately, the discussion needs to rest on the truth that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Only God provides the ability for us to uphold an objective measure of morality.  We can place blame on tools, roles and circumstances, but ultimately decisions to act upon fleshly urges rests within the heart and soul of each one that has the urge…do I act on it or subject my thoughts and feelings to One who can help me overcome them and make wise decisions.

Don’t avoid the news, online technology or pursuit of careers because they are subject to being misused or abused.  Rather, lead discussions in your family about what taking personal ownership of decisions looks like.  Bring up why these kind of stories are thought of as   “newsworthy” (though we could discuss the over reporting of sensational stories for ratings, we won’t here :).  When you hear or see life happening around you and someone chooses poorly, don’t ignore or shut off immediately…engage and use them to point to right choices and right responses so that your children learn that they can live in the world but don’t have to succumb to its temptations.

How do you handle these stories in your home?

From the Set of Courageous: A Sheriffs Heart

June 17, 2010

If you ever want to really see the power of a father in a child’s life (good or bad) just ask someone to share thoughts about what they would say to their dad if he was standing there next to them at that moment.  I had that opportunity as I worked on the set of Courageous as part of my job at FamilyLife and helping with the promotion of fatherhood issues raised in the movie via social media.  Nearly every time I asked that at the end of an interview I conducted emotions were raw and sometimes there were tears–both joy and pain.  The movie is still being filmed and won’t be released until 2011.  But, there is so much power coming through the movie that I wanted to share or repost a blog article from Courageous Movie’s website/blog. And, since we are nearing father’s day, it’s appropriate to listen to and think about.

From Courageous Movie website:

When Sherwood Pictures was filming Fireproof, the support of the Albany Fire Department was an important element in helping the film realistically portray the realities firefighters face on a daily basis.

With Courageous, the support of the Dougherty County Sheriff’s Department, led by Sheriff Kevin Sproul, has been equally important—and equally impressive. Members of the Sheriff’s Department have been on set at different times throughout the filming, including Sheriff.

Stephen Kendrick spoke with Sheriff Sproul this week, but the focus of their conversation wasn’t on moviemaking or law enforcement. Instead, they spoke about the power of a father.

When we hear that phrase, we want to think about the positive influence of a dad in a child’s life. But in this video, Sheriff Sproul tells how he saw a father’s impact unfortunately played out in the life of a young man he coached in youth baseball.

As Father’s Day arrives this weekend, our prayer becomes more intense that dads everywhere will be inspired by Courageous to stand strongly and proudly proclaim, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

DadPad: Courageous Friday-Dads in Film

April 16, 2010

Here’s a clip of what one movie reviewer hopes Courageous will do for a better portrayal of fatherhood in film:

A couple of questions for you to share your thoughts about:

1) What TV Dad do you recall as being a strong Dad

2)  What do you hope Courageous does to more positively impact the role of Fathers in our society?

DadPad: When is Enough, Enough? Kids, Video Games and Parenting

April 15, 2010

Are your kids into gaming?  I found some interesting statistics on the effects of Video Game Playing at the National Institute on Media and the Family’s website:  For instance:

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  • 63% of Americans have played a video game in the past 6 months, compared to only 53% of people who have gone out to the movies (NDP Group Inc., 2009).
  • A study of over 2,000 8 to 18 year-olds (3rd through 12th graders) found that 83% of them have at least one video game player in their home, 31% have 3 or more video game players in their home, and 49%  have video game players in their bedrooms (Roberts, Foeher, and Rideout, 2005).
  • In the same study only 21% of kids reported that their parents set rules about which video games they can play, 17% reported their parents check warning labels or ratings on video games, and 12% reported they play video games they know their parents don’t want them playing (Roberts, Foeher, and Rideout, 2005).

Did you read that last bullet?  Only 21% of kids said Mom and Dad set rules about video game playing and 12% play games that they (kids) KNOW their parents don’t want them playing.

The video game industry continues to grow.  In fact, the 2010 Game Developers conference in San Francisco had “an all-time record of 18,250 game industry professionals attending San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center for the March 9th-13th event. Surpassing last year’s total of 17,000 attendees.” (By Ubm Techweb Game Network, PRNE-March 14, 2010)

There are plenty of issues that can be debated and discussed about the pros/cons of video games.  Here are a few potential outcomes of excessive gaming (per the Effects of Video Game Playing post at MediaFamily.org):

  • Adolescents who play more than one hour of console or Internet video games have more or more intense symptoms of ADHD or inattention than those who do not (Chan, 2006).
  • The most likely reasons that people play video games excessively are due to either ineffective time management skills, or as a symptomatic response to other underlying problems that they are escaping from, rather than any inherent addictive properties of the actual games (Wood, 2008).
  • Online Gaming Addictions display core components of addiction such as salience, mood modification, tolerance, conflict, withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and relapse (Chappell, 2006).
  • Both novice and expert online game players are subject to time distortion and have difficulty breaking off from the game without interruption by others in the real world (Rau, 2006).
  • Video game usage may be linked to a lower GPA and SAT score (Vivek, 2007).

Again, though there are pros of controlled video playing, there is almost no denying that it can be an addictive lifestyle that can have a negative long-term impact on our children.

In todays Moments with You daily devotional (at FamilyLife.com), “X-ing the Xbox”, there is an excerpt from the book, Playstation Nation by Kurt and Olivia Bruner, which tells the story of a mom who finally had enough.  Here’s the excerpt,

She had already earned high marks for unpopularity by limiting her boys’ game time to one hour a day. But when she came in one night before bed to tell them, “Time’s up,” they wanted to “finish a level” of their game before saving their progress. So they made a fatal choice: Instead of shutting the game off, they paused it instead . . . and returned to it in the middle of the night.

When Mom woke up at 2 A.M. and noticed the light emanating from downstairs, she went ballistic at first. Then she disappeared into her bedroom and paced the floor in prayer, asking God for wisdom about how and when to strike. Finally resolved, she went in each room and began pulling plugs and boxing up every piece of game system she could find. Then—with her boys watching in horror—she opened an upstairs window in their three-story house and dropped the whole thing to the ground. Ah, the beautiful sound of smashing electronics!

Dennis Rainey (author of the devotional) then concludes:

Drastic? Yes. But one of those boys left soon after for college with seven of his buddies. Before the first semester was completed, four of the seven dropped out and returned home to take part-time jobs so that they could have more time for video gaming. For one young man, however, the addiction was gone, thanks to a parent who cared more about her children’s character than their point totals or her popularity.

If video games have taken control of your house, maybe it’s time for you, too, to bring your kids back to reality.

In the MediaFamily.org study 1/3 of parents actually participate in the games with their children.  So, it can be a time of family interaction and fun.  There are some other positive benefits of video games.  As in most things in life, the issue is one of “balance and intentionality”.  My wife and I regulated the amount of time our children were able to spend in “monitor” time (an age appropriate amount of time daily that our children could spend in front of the TV + Computer).  Nowadays you need to add in cell phone time as well.

These are not easy decisions and I wouldn’t advocate going into your child’s room and tossing their computer and gaming equipment ala Howard Beale (played by the late Peter Finch) in the 1976 movie, Network, ‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’ Though it may not be clearly evident the exact steps you need to take with your children, what is or should be evident is that steps do need to be taken to ensure your kids don’t get swallowed up by the video game allure.  And, it’s much easier to implement some guidelines and boundaries earlier in their lives than later.  So, what will you do today to help your kids be wiser users of media and video games?  When will you say, “Enough is Enough”?

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DadPad: Looking ahead to Courageous

April 8, 2010

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Next year the fourth movie from Sherwood (makers of Fireproof, Facing the Giants and Flywheel), will be released: Courageous.  In this video, Alex and Stephen Kendrick talk about the inspiration for the movie and what they hope transpires through the movie.  Since the theme is about being a courageous father, DadPad will post periodic news and related updates to the movie production process.  We are excited about how this movie might be used for a catalytic fatherhood movement!  For more information about the movie, go to the Courageous website and sign up to receive their newsletter.  Additionally you can follow them on their Facebook fan page.

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Sherwood’s next movie – Courageous – coming in 2011

March 11, 2010

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Saw this article in OneNewsNow.  Looking forward with great anticipation to the Kendrick brothers (Alex and Steven, Pastors from Sherwood Baptist Church and producers/actors/writers for three previous films, Flywheel, Facing the Giants and, most recently, Fireproof) next movie called Courageous.  Here’s a brief excerpt from that article.

The script for the latest movie from Sherwood Baptist Church, the Georgia-based church that produced Fireproof, has been written and is being revised.

The new film Courageous focuses on four police officers who excel at their jobs but find fatherhood a daunting challenge. “Protecting the streets is second nature to these law enforcement officers,” says the movie website. “Raising their children? That will take courage.”

Click here to read the entire article

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