8 Reasons to Rethink Teens & Sexting

megan-maasMegan Maas has written a blog on 8 Reasons to Rethink Teens & Sexting for the Huffington Post.  Here’s a few snippets from the blog which are essential reading for any youth worker:

… In order for us to address sexting in a realistic way with teens, we must first understand the sexual culture they live in that normalizes sexting.

1. Teens think everyone is sexting and it’s no big deal. 

2. Boys and girls engage in sexting for different reasons. Girls feel pressure to send sexts and are more likely to do so than boys. Boys feel more pressure to collect sexts and are more likely to receive sexts and share them with friends or post them online than girls. This poses an issue because it sets up a type of marketplace, where the boys are the consumers and the girls are the products to be consumed …

3. The sexual double standard is alive and well in sexting. We think nothing of a boy requesting a nude image or video, but when a girl participates, we think something is wrong with her …

4. Sexting can be a sign of self-objectification

5. We have a victim blaming culture, even when it comes to sexting. When I do educational seminars about sex and technology with parents and teachers, I overwhelmingly hear stories of “sexting scandals”. Usually followed by a, “Why would she send a nude photo of herself in the first place? Something must be wrong with her.”

6. We need to redefine female sexual liberation

7. We need to support girls to foster their own talents and abilities in multiple areas of life, and encourage boys to support them too. You don’t want your teen to sext? Try telling them not to do it. That didn’t work you say? Shocking. It’s important for parents of boys to acknowledge the pressure girls feel to prove they are sexy and to encourage them to recognize girls’ interests, talents and knowledge above their looks whenever possible. For parents of girls, it’s important to focus on their abilities and not just their looks or dress from a young age. It’s not that it is bad for teen girls to express sexuality, it’s just that we don’t want their only dose of daily self-esteem boost to come from a sexy selfie because her sexual worth is her only worth.

8. We need to hold boys and men accountable for their actions, they are capable of not acting on sexual impulses. 

Are tablets good for children?

The Guardians of Ancora blog recently highlighted a BBC article

There’s no question that tablet computers have swept into children’s lives in the past couple of years. But is this good, bad or neutral?

‘Parents,’ says the BBC iWonder website, ‘sometimes worry that time spent playing on screen devices may be stunting important development in areas such as social and communication skills. However, as devices and technology have evolved to be more intuitive and creative, they have opened up a world of possibilities for children who previously may have been frustrated by the constraints of their abilities and their environment.’

To help you think through this question for yourself, Professor Lydia Plowman and teaching fellow Juliet Hancock, from the University of Edinburgh, have put together a helpful guide.

Google Glass app helps kids with autism see emotions

Stanford University researchers are testing software that is meant to help autistic children with social cues. The Google Glass software reads the emotions on people’s faces, then tells the user what those emotions are. Early research is yielding positive results:


World’s first sprout-powered Christmas tree

What do you do with the sprouts nobody wanted to eat? Now we have a new answer: Wait a few weeks, then use them to power your Christmas tree:

Sprouts powered Christmas tree

That, at least, appears to be the message from a new project installed on the South Bank of the Thames in London on behalf of the the Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair: the world’s first battery made entirely of Brussels sprouts. Some 1,000 of the green veggies are being used to light 100 LEDs on an 8-foot Christmas tree.

Just about any fruit or vegetables could be used to conduct electricity; the achievement here is that sprouts are less efficient than most. You need lots of juice in your organic matter to provide juice, and those dry leafy sprouts hardly cut it.

The battery was created from five power cells, each carrying 200 sprouts that are hooked up to copper and zinc electrodes, and produced a grand total of 63 volts. The veggies are no longer edible (sorry, sprout fans), but should last for a month before the school-age scientists need to replenish them.

The aim of the project? “We want young people to think about STEM subjects in an interesting way, and are always looking for different ways to do that,” said Paul Jackson, CEO of EngineeringUK, which runs the fair. “It being the festive time of year –- and kids’ dislike of sprouts being well documented -– using them to create a battery seemed like a unique way to achieve that aim.”

What Happens When You Put iPhone 5C, 5S in a Blender

It just wouldn’t be an Apple release without a Blendtec “Will it Blend?” video.

Those waiting for Blendtec to take on the iPhone 5C and 5S will be rewarded for their patience with this video. At first, Blendtec former CEO and current board member Tom Dickson messes with us a bit by explaining that he couldn’t get his hand on a gold 5S, so he got a bunch of 5Cs instead. Then Dickson’s doppelganger — decked out in a flashy gold outfit — arrives with the gold phone.

After that, it’s what you would expect — a fast-forward teardown that reduces all the phones to icky plastic dust, or as Dickson dubs it “rainbow smoke” and “gold smoke.” Stay to the end to Dickson’s gold grille and the rainbow and unicorn animation.

The 37-year-old Blendtec became a YouTube sensation with its “Will it Blend?” series, which detailed how golf balls, marbles and a Big Mac Extra Value Happy Meal fare once they’re stuffed into a Blendtec device. (Spoiler alert: Not well.) The company has previously tested the blendability of other iPhones and iPads.

The Technology Tornado


I loved The Technology Tornado post on the Simply Youth Ministry newsletter this last week:

This area has been a particular struggle in our own marriage, and one that we have by no means figured out. We’ve had many talks and constantly wrestle with what boundaries work for our relationship. In this day and age you can’t completely disconnect from the world, but nor should you be so distracted by constant email pings and texts that you’re not present for your family. This technology conversation has a lot of gray areas and so it takes a fair amount of effort and communication to hash out.

Here’s the main goal: Don’t allow screen time to replace face time.

People need attention. They need you to be focused on them, listening, alert, and engaged. There is no formula or set of rules that you can follow to guarantee you’ll be great at paying attention. And chances are that as the capabilities of technology expand and integrate more and more into our daily lives, this will be an area you’ll have to work on a lot.

As you talk with your spouse and family about technology, be sure to listen to each other’s opinions and work together to create boundaries that fit your unique needs.

Here are some things we’ve enacted in our own marriage and family life:

1) No technology at meal times. Phones are off or on vibrate, they are not sitting on the dinner table. Computers and iPads are closed and put away.

 2) No charging devices in the bedroom. It’s really hard to have quality time when things keep buzzing, dinging, and drawing our attention away from each other. Plug in and charge the electronics in another room.

3) Work email goes to a work computer. For us it helped to not have ministry emails dinging into Jake’s phone. It kept him constantly “at work” even though he was home.

 4) The freedom to say no. We each have the freedom to express frustration if we feel the other one is being sucked too much into the technology tornado.

5) One Sabbath day. Technology is turned off and totally ignored one day a week. (In theory! We admit, this one is hard to do.)

Have fun using these new ways to limit the control technology has on your life!

Thank you for loving students,

Jake and Melissa Kircher

@jakekircher      @MKircher83

Toddler Buys Car While Playing with Dad’s Phone

Austin Healey Sprite

Don’t give your smartphone to anyone that you don’t trust with your money. Paul Stoute of Portland, Oregon found that out when his 2-year old daughter Sorella used the eBay app on his phone to purchase a 1962 Austin Healey Sprite:

“She decided to open the eBay app, and started clicking around and one thing led to another and we own a car,” he told KOIN 6 News, laughing.

Mom and Dad had an “initial panic,” he said. “‘What do we do? We can’t really afford it’ kind of thing.”

But they decided to keep it.

Paul plans to keep the car, restore it, and give it to Sorella for her 16th birthday or high school graduation, read here for more.

This guy Is 3D printing an Aston Martin

Car-enthusiast Ivan Sentch really wanted an Aston Martin DB4. The only problem is, he doesn’t have several hundred thousand dollars to purchase one. Sentch does, however, own a relatively cheap Solidoodler 3D printer (they start at about $500). Using a 3D drawing he found online, Sentch, who was a 3D printing novice when he started the project, began printing parts for his dream car. Though he’ll use parts from a Nissan for the engine, he hopes the end result will look like a replica of the 1958 classic when it is complete …

Aston Martin 3D printed

Zero TV


What has happened to telephone landline and CD sales is coming to television. And that has got broadcasters worried.

Ryan Nakashima of the AP wrote about TV broadcasters’ biggest worry: the people who have no TV whatsoever (not even antenna ones that get free signals over the air). They dubbed this group “Zero TV”

Some people have had it with TV. They’ve had enough of the 100-plus channel universe. They don’t like timing their lives around network show schedules. They’re tired of $100-plus monthly bills.

A growing number of them have stopped paying for cable and satellite TV service, and don’t even use an antenna to get free signals over the air. These people are watching shows and movies on the Internet, sometimes via cellphone connections. Last month, the Nielsen Co. started labeling people in this group “Zero TV” households, because they fall outside the traditional definition of a TV home. There are 5 million of these residences in the U.S., up from 2 million in 2007.

Click here for the full article.

Compare & Contrast: St. Peter’s Square in 2005 and 2013

It’s amazing to see how much technology changes even in a few years, check of the 8 year difference in the two papal announcements.  This Instragram photo shared by the Today Show highlights the contrast of St. Peter’s Square surrounding the new Pope.

It is amazing:


The change from one person in the crowd with a camera phone, to a sea of people with smartphones and tablets.  What I find interesting, is that everyone is taking a picture of the same thing.  Why would we need so many pictures of the same thing – so many of which will be poor quality shots?  I think it says something about our desire to capture our own experiences.