Teen Tech Culture: Video Games, Plus…Is Your Teen Texting In Her Sleep?

Here’s the latest from the world of tech and youth culture.

According a story on, last year the Cartoon Network released an app that allows kids to watch their favorite shows while simultaneously playing video games based on those shows.

Cartoon Network executive Chris Waldron came up with the idea, and he says the app has now been downloaded “millions and millions of times.”

Waldron believes content efforts in the future will continue to merge these different forms of onscreen interactions into a single experience.  TV manufacturers are introducing apps into their TVs, and Waldron says “ that world where you seamlessly move back and forth between interacting and watching TV will only increase.”

Is your teen texting in her sleep?  Experts say teenagers are increasingly texting in their sleep—or the dreamy limbo state between sleep and wakefulness.

Dr. Elizabeth Dowdell, a nursing professor at Villanova University, says “The phone will beep, and they’ll answer the text.  They’ll either respond in words or gibberish.

Dr. Dowdell points out that when these kids wake up, they have absolutely no memory of sending or receiving a text.  She says this is a symptom of teens not getting enough sleep and using technology far too much.

A few weeks ago I talked about a study on the negative consequences of allowing your child to have a TV in their bedroom.  The “texting while sleeping” research is just one more reason why parents should make their kids’ rooms “tech free zones.”

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

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Making The Right TV Choices For Your Preschooler

What kind of television shows do you allow your young kids to watch?

According to new research, switching channels from violent TV shows to educational programs can improve preschoolers’ behavior.

The Associated Press reports on the study which was conducted by the Seattle Children’s Research Institute.  Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician at the institute, says although the results were modest, turning off violent shows may help young children avoid aggressive, destructive behavior.

Dr. Christakis says “It’s not just about turning off the television. It’s about changing the channel. What children watch is as important as how much they watch,”

The study involved over 500 Seattle parents, who periodically filled out TV-watching diaries and questionnaires measuring their child’s behavior.

Half of the parents were coached for six months on getting their 3-to-5-year-old kids to watch shows like “Sesame Street” and “Dora the Explorer,” and to turn off more violent programs like “Power Rangers.”  The rest of the parents in the study group were coached on establishing healthy eating habits for their kids.

After six months, the kids whose parents were coached on TV content showed a bit more improvement in their behavior.  Low-income boys appeared to get the most short-term benefit.

Nancy Jensen, who took part with her now 6-year-old daughter, said the study was a wake-up call.

She says “I didn’t realize how much Elizabeth was watching and how much she was watching on her own”

Jensen said her daughter’s behavior improved after making changes, and she continues to control what Elizabeth and her 2-year-old brother watch. She also decided to replace most of Elizabeth’s TV time with games, art and outdoor fun.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Click here for the audio version of this article.

If You Could Create Your Own App…

It’s Garrett from Shine Afternoons and my wife and I were downloading apps for our new iPhone’s and she said, honey what if we could create an app that would tell us if our kiddos made their beds.  And I thought, what about one that would tell us if they took their bath…”The Bath-checker App.”  If you could create an app for your smartphone that would help your family, what would it be?  Hey…be creative!

Time To Pull The Plug?

A huge number of children in America have televisions in their bedrooms, and it may be causing them to be, well HUGE!

New research from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana has found that kids with TVs in their bedrooms are 2.5 times as likely to be overweight and nearly three times as likely to be at risk for heart disease and diabetes.

Researcher Amanda Staiano and her team were looking for a link between watching TV and children’s health.   Their study involved 369 children between the ages of 5 and 18.  About a third of those kids watched five hours of television a day!

Those children were at twice the risk for fat around their internal organs, a forerunner to disease later on.  Commenting on the study, Dr. Staiano said “It’s really troubling to see these kids with fat around their heart and liver.”

By the way, a separate study by Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 70% of American kids have a television in their bedroom.

Here’s another media-related item for you…this one on the changing nature of motion picture ratings.

Aris Christofides, an editor at the parental media review website Kids in Mind, says “Movies are definitely getting more violent. There’s definitely more gore. In a PG-13 movie 10 years ago, you expected violence, but not gore.”

Aris goes on to say: “We tend to think of the MPAA as being an independent organization. It’s not. It’s the lobbying arm of the movie industry. What they are trying to do is accommodate marketing decisions. The ratings system is dynamic; it evolves and changes with our culture.”

So if you have kids at home, where can you go for guidance on TV shows, movies, popular music and video games?  I’d recommend Focus on the Family’s media review website,

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

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Advice For On-line Dating

Dear Dr. Bill,

I’m in my mid-20s and have developed a friendship with woman I met online.  She lives in another state and we’ve talked quite a bit on the phone since then.  We’ve both expressed an interest in exploring this relationship further, but we’ve never met in person.  Do you have any advice on how we should proceed?


Dear Chad,

Meeting someone online can turn out to be a wonderful experience.  I have several friends who met their spouse through an online dating service.  At the same time, there are pitfalls to online dating that you need to be aware of.

First of all, people have a tendency to put there “best foot forward” on the internet.  They can carefully manage their image, telling you only positive about themselves.  Some will even post photos of themselves that have been retouched or don’t reflect what they truly look like in person.

If you decide to meet this woman in person, here’s what I would suggest.  Schedule your initial meeting at a neutral location in one of your respective towns, such as a casual restaurant or coffee shop.  Agree ahead of time to limit the amount of time you spend together at that first meeting—perhaps two hours.

Make sure there are no expectations—and agree to follow up via phone the next day.  That will give each of you the option to gracefully “bow out” if the initial meeting doesn’t go as expected.

If that first date goes well, continue to develop your friendship on the phone and schedule a second trip.  During this second visit, let the woman know that you’d like to meet a few of her close friends and perhaps even attend church with her.  That will give you a much clearer picture of who this woman really is.

Finally, make this relationship a matter of regular prayer.  Ask God for wisdom to discern if this woman has the character qualities and moral values that would make her a good match.

If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

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Are We Too Connected To Our Smartphones?

Hey it’s Garrett from Shine Afternoons and you’ve probably heard that smartphones are making us more stressed. What do you think? Are we too attached to our smartphones? Do we need to “un-plug” more? Do we actually get a break from work since we can get texts, emails and Facebook posts even during “family time?” What are your thoughts?

Tech Talk

Here are a couple of tech-related stories for you…

When Janell Hoffman gave her 13-year-old son, Greg, an iPhone this past Christmas, it came wrapped with an 18-point agreement he had to sign in order to use it.

And suddenly she’s become a national sensation for being … a good parent.   According to, his iPhone “contract” included some of these clauses:

“I (Mom) will always know the password,”

“Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30pm every school night & every weekend night at 9:00pm”

“Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say out loud with their parents in the room.”

Point 18 reads : “You will mess up.  I will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You & I, we are always learning. I am on your team. We are in this together.”

On Good Morning America, Janell said the 18-point list  of conditions was an effort to help her son enter the digital world with a little foresight.

Here’s another story that might interest you…social media and Internet usage are devastating workers’ productivity. Six out of 10 employees visit social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter while on the clock. And we’re interrupted, on average, once every 10.5 minutes by instant messages, Facebook messages and tweets.

After those interruptions, it takes an average of 23 minutes to get back on task. That totals $4,452 in lost productivity annually for every social media-using employee in the country—a $650 billion-a-year hit to the American business bottom line.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Click here for the audio version of this article.

Good News Story: Bionic Ears

What a cool Good News Story today!  A deaf girl fitted with Bionic Ear speaks her first word!  Find out what it was here!

5 Reasons Every Parent Should Beware of Instagram

You think you’ve got your kids under control when it comes to Facebook and their security settings? Think again. My 13-years old is now using Instagram and I found out it’s whole other ballgame when it comes to concerns. Here are some things you should be cautious about.

18 Point “Teenager” Phone Contract

1. It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren’t I the greatest?
2. I will always know the password.
3. If it rings, answer it. It is a phone. Say hello, use your manners. Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads “Mom” or “Dad”. Not ever.
4. Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30pm every school night & every weekend night at 9:00pm. It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30am. If you would not make a call to someone’s land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text. Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected.
5. It does not go to school with you. Have a conversation with the people you text in person. It’s a life skill.
6. If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs.
7. Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being. Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire.
8-9. Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.
10. No porn.
11. Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public. Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being. You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.
12. Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts. Don’t laugh. Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence. It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life. It is always a bad idea. Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you. And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear — including a bad reputation.
13. Don’t take a zillion pictures and videos. There is no need to document everything. Live your experiences. They will be stored in your memory for eternity.
14. Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision. It is not alive or an extension of you. Learn to live without it. Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO — fear of missing out.
15. Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff. Your generation has access to music like never before in history. Take advantage of that gift. Expand your horizons.
16. Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then.
17. Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you. Stare out a window. Listen to the birds. Take a walk. Talk to a stranger. Wonder without googling.
18. You will mess up. I will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You & I, we are always learning. I am on your team. We are in this together.