Technology Discussion - Friona Baptist Church

Parenting in a Digital World
S.P.I.L.L. Effect

The SPILL Effect is like a technological oil spill that dumps itself over everyone in which it comes in contact. And like an oil spill, it can be very difficult to clean up. But instead of affecting the ecosystem, it affects our heart, mind, spirit, and emotions and is actually much harder to clean up and can have life changing effects.

“Getting ‘Likes’ on social media are like bright dings of pseudo-pleasure. They are seductive, but in the end, they are hollow.”

- Justin Rosenstein, Creator of the Facebook “Like” Button

Social media is the first item on this list because surprisingly, it is the most destructive force in terms of mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. This in turn creates physical side-effects. A new study recently released shows that social media addiction is now responsible for the following health issues and diseases: Anemia, depression, hypothyroidism, diabetes, and heart disease. The other reason that social media is first on this list is because it touches every other item on the SPILL list. Here are a few facts regarding social media:

  • Many studies have been done over the number of false claims and lies on social media. The most conservative study showed that 68% of all social media posts are lies or fabrications.
  • People cannot live up to the false standards propagated through social media.
  • Teen depression, loneliness, anxiety, and drug usage has never been higher
  • Teen and young adult suicide rates have never been higher.
  • Used as the number one tool for human trafficking and grooming children for sexual molestation.

At this point, everyone has seen the devastation wrought by pornography. The objectification of people to the point that they have no value, they are only sex objects. This no longer only applies to women, it is across the board. There are over 1000 new porn pages released every minute. That is over 1.4 million new pornographic references every day. And this is probably a low number.

  • It is estimated that between 30-50% of all http (web browser based) traffic is pornographic in nature and this is on the small side more than likely. The Internet at large tries to muffle these numbers by attempting to redefine the word “pornographic.”
  • It is now estimated that over 80% of children between the ages of 8-16 have seen pornography.
  • As the world defines it, pornography no longer includes nudity or lewdness, but rather, an act of sex showing explicit details.
  • Using these numbers, it is easy to then to see why it is almost impossible to get consistent results in calculating this traffic.
  • Last year I reported that from any major news website, you are only 2-3 clicks from pornography. This year, you are only 1-2 clicks away. And on many news websites, they lead from the homepage with “Clickbait” that is considered “soft porn.” On many UK news websites, they lead with full nudity straight from the homepage.
  • Why? Because they are competing for clicks because clicks lead to advertising dollars.

The world no longer values things that were once pure and innocent. In fact, innocence is frowned upon. But this exceeds past pornography. Bad ideas are being passed around at the speed of light. Young people are having more and more difficulty listening to people with a differing opinion, to the point now that they are willing to kill or give their rights away to ensure that people cannot tell them things that they do not want to hear. Those who want to save themselves until marriage are ridiculed and dubbed pariahs. Things that were once considered bad or even evil are now considered good. How did we get here?

  • Parented by Virtual Reality. There are way too many points to tick here, but technology has played a major role. Children are now more parented by the Internet than they are by their own parents.
  • Abortion. This should not be a controversial topic. An unborn baby is a human life. The very fact that you are here dictates that you are a human. But there is a second part to this, many people were misled into this decision. And it is important that there is grace and absolute forgiveness. But sadly, those who have been down this path and felt the physical, emotional and spiritual scars from this have been afraid to speak up against it…usually purely out of shame.
  • Sexual depravity. This exceeds just the controversial topics. I will not expand here, but enough can never be enough. And things being introduced that were once inconceivable.
  • Gender Fluidity. We are now living in a world where a populist humanistic worldview is commonplace and gender is not scientific nor static. In Genesis 1:27, God tells us that he created two genders, male and female.

When we think of human trafficking, we have a tendency to think that this is not a local issue and is something that happens in other countries. Or at the very least, in other parts of the country. But no, there are many human trafficking stories that are coming right out of Amarillo, TX. Young girls and women are coerced into lives of slavery and prostitution. There are the instances that people are kidnapped and taken. But there are even more nefarious tactics being used which in turn convince these young people that they made the decision to be part of the sex trade.

The innocence of our children is something that should be celebrated and protected. We have the majority of our lives to be adults and deal with adult scenarios in life. It is so important to the well-being of a child to grow up in an environment where they can be a child. We have spoken briefly about the physical and psychological issues that come from stress. These diseases are not limited to adults. This stress also prevents proper brain development, specifically in the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for cognitive behavior, decision making, interpreting and moderating social behavior, emotions, and more. What is taking their innocence at such young ages?

  • Movies and television. By the time children are reaching their teens (13) most have already seen a sex scene or graphic nudity in a movie.
  • Activism. This is a concept that we once would not have talked about with our children until they were much older. Recently, a 6-year-old little boy took a knee at school when they were saying the Pledge of Allegiance. He was already being recruited for activism.
  • Entitlement. This is a large and broad topic. But in short, most children and now young adults (started with Millennials) have an attitude of entitlement. This leads to loss of innocence because they are given most anything that they want. They learn that they can plan on the emotions of their caregivers or threats to public officials and get most whatever they want. In this scenario, there is no longer a gatekeeper protecting them. Heck, many times there is no longer a gate. Children need to hear “no.” They need to have boundaries and as the parents we need to defend these boundaries without giving an inch. In the end, this promotes security and safety to our children. And this too protects their innocence.
  • Modesty. This is a word lost on the current generation. When I speak to teens I beg and plead for them to have self-respect. If you don’t have respect for yourself, trust me, nobody else will. Actors and actresses, athletes, music stars, and the like are NOT role models. Most of these people promote lewd behavior and from a very early age. They see celebrities wearing immodest clothing or cursing like a sailor and they adopt these behaviors.
  • Manners. Another word lost on the current generation. Treating people with kindness and giving a helping hand are such important qualities for us to share. They bring about a sense of community and promote common goals. Acting with class in public and at home are so important in the development of our personalities and also help us to be more successful in other areas such as school, work, and sports.
  • Respect. I can’t tell you the last time that I heard a young person address me as “sir” or my wife as “ma’am.” Authority is no longer respected and the results of these have been seen everywhere from the school system to the local mall. This has a negative effect on the skills gained and learned from those with more experience.

On of the most commonly overlooked aspects technology has had on our children and young people is the lack of ambition. We focus on all of the major components such as pornography that we don’t look at this devastating trend on our society….laziness and lack of ambition. Teenagers no longer want to partake in the most common tasks such as driving, getting a job, or striving for excellence. The result is an ever-growing trend where children don’t have the most basic skills when they leave the home. Which is another sad trend, not leaving. Or in many cases moving back in. Here are just a few of the causes and results from this lack of ambition.

  • Unachievable goals. Due to the effect of social media and the lies that are espoused, young people don’t believe that they can achieve their goals anymore. They think that goals are for other people. So, goals are either set extremely low or not set at all.
  • Cannot deal with failure. Failure is the most important part of learning. We all fail. But you aren’t a loser until you quit. I fail more than I succeed, but this drive was put in me through encouragement as a young person. I had parents that would not let me quit what I started and this taught me that if I keep pushing I can be successful.
  • All about fun. We now live in a society where we can binge on watching seasons and seasons of shows without ever having to get up. Due to the screen and technology time granted to young people they shut down the parts of their minds for creativity. They let others create and they just consume. We need to encourage our children to create and to use their minds. We can use technology for this as well, so we need to train them on how to use technology in creative ways where they are creating and producing instead of consuming all of the time.
  • Ill-Conceived Identity. Identity is something that is core to who we are as humans. But we have begun to believe so many of the lies as truths that young people don’t discover who they are until much later in life. Part of being a young person is discovering who we are. There is truly only one person who can tell us who we are and that is God. Sadly, there are fewer and fewer young people who trust in God let alone believe in God. This lack of faith breeds a lack of hope. And in the end a lack of our identity and purpose in life.

Technology Cause and Effect

  • Over the last 10 years, the leading aspiration of young people has moved from being a police officer, firefighter, astronaut, doctor, or lawyer. The #1 aspiration…being a YouTube star. How did we get here?
  • There is now a medical term that defines being out of mobile contact: Nomophobia.
  • Teenagers now have mobile devices with them 24/7.
  • In a group of teachers that I recently spoke to, they told me that they now allow the students to at least keep their phones on their desk where they can touch them. When they were forced to put them away, they had a difficult time listening and paying attention, and in some more extreme cases, some would even shake.
  • Many teens no longer reach deep sleep or REM states because they are anxious for text messages or social media alerts.
  • In short, society as a whole, not just teens, is addicted to technology and media.

Apps and Video Games Designed to be Addicting

I know that this sounds nearly impossible to believe, but it has been proven and there are ongoing lawsuits across many different platforms regarding the addictive nature of apps and video games. This is not a new process or agenda and goes back to the start of social media platforms. Facebook and Instagram being at the top of the list in this category. Read below to learn more about a few different platforms that have either admitted or been caught trying to creating addictive behavior.

"When Facebook was getting going, I had these people who would come up to me and they would say, ‘I’m not on social media.’ And I would say, ‘OK. You know, you will be. And then they would say, ‘No, no, no. I value my real-life interactions. I value the moment. I value presence. I value intimacy.’ And I would say, … ‘We’ll get you eventually.’

I don’t know if I really understood the consequences of what I was saying, because [of] the unintended consequences of a network when it grows to a billion or 2 billion people and … it literally changes your relationship with society, with each other … It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.

The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them, … was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’ And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever. And that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you … more likes and comments.

It’s a social-validation feedback loop … exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology. The inventors, creators — it’s me, it’s Mark [Zuckerberg], it’s Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it’s all of these people — understood this consciously. And we did it anyway."

Playing video games has a physical effect on the body, causing chemical changes in the brain too.

“Video games such as Fortnite are designed to be addictive — they give children a hit of dopamine — also known as ‘the reward hormone,'” says parenting expert O’Shea.

Dopamine is the same chemical that floods into the brain when people win at gambling, smoke a cigarette or do a line of cocaine.

It is a major reason why people get hooked on the game as it gives you a “hit” and makes you feel exhilarated. But when you come down from it, users can begin to feel flat or aggressive, making them want to play again.

New research from the University of California has found that children are at greater risk to the effects because their brains are flexible.

Professor Ofir Turel, who led the studies, told The Telegraph: “Say someone sees a video game or mobile phone, a reward system in the brain lights up.

“Some parts of the brain don’t develop until they are 17, others are not fully developed until they’re 25. The development of the reward or impulse system is much faster compared to the development of the self-control system. It means that if you take someone who is 13 years old, they will have a mature reward system but their self-control system is not as well developed. So they are much more predisposed for impulsive and risky behaviors.”

Original Article

Addiction: Any activity, substance, object, or behavior that has become the major focus of a person's life to the exclusion of other activities, or that has begun to harm the individual or others physically, mentally, or socially is considered an addictive behavior.

The Principle of First Mention
  • This principle, or law, represents the first time a topic is heard or presented to the recipient. The presenter generally becomes the “expert” on the matter. From this point forward for the recipient, every other discussion on this topic will be measured by the originating “expert.” Overcoming false or ill-gotten information from that original encounter becomes extremely difficult.
  • Over 92% of parents, according to studies through Pew Research, have never talked to their children about their online activities or the TV shows that they watch.
  • It is imperative that parents re-insert themselves in their children’s lives. As the parents, we must be the primary source of culture, values, and acceptance for our teenagers.
  • Surprisingly, though they may not show it, teenagers long for the need to feel safe and protected by their parents.
Where Do I Start?
  • First, you would never hand your child a stack or pornographic magazines, videos, communist manifesto, or Mein Kampf. But when we hand them an unprotected device, that is exactly what we are doing.
  • Secondly, technology is not going away. We need to make sure that our teenagers are well informed and know how to use technology to their benefit before they leave our homes.
  • I used to say that my teenagers would never have a phone until they drove. But that wasn’t the right approach. It is best that our children fail with technology while under our roof so that we are there to help walk them through where they went wrong.
  • With that in mind, we first need to protect our homes. I am going to give several suggestions, though there are many to choose from, this is not a promotion of any one product, but just a starting point.
Protecting the Entire House and Mobile Extensions

There are a number of ways to protect the entire house. Protecting an individual machine or device is better than nothing, but they are generally easy to get around and if another device is located or obtained, then it would not be protected. We want to protect every device on the home network.

Setup 1 - Most Common Home Network Configuration
Not Recommended

Most homes will subscribe to an ISP (Internet Service Provider) and that service provider will come out, get the connection established to your home, and also provide you with a all-in-one modem/router/Wi-Fi unit that is extremely cheap. Yet, they will also bill you each month for the right to rent or lease this device from them.

Setup 2 - Simple Cable Modem
Minimum Recommended

This is the minimum recommended solution when using a cable modem. In this configuration, we are least moving the modem out of the all-in-one solution and then implementing a good router (more on that below).

Setup 3 - DSL or Bridge Hand-off
Minimum Recommended

When using DSL, these boxes generally are all-in-one. So you will still need to use the modem portion of the all-in-one router, but you will turn off the wi-fi and put it in bridge mode. This will act only as a modem and then your can implement a quality router / Wi-Fi solution.

Setup 4 - Recommended Setup for any ISP
Recommended

Regardless of who you are using as your ISP (Internet Service Provider), this is a recommended solution. This configuration breaks out each piece and reduces the points of failure while allowing your network to run much faster and allow for growth or scalability down the road. In the end, this is the best solution AND in the longer run will cost you less money. Most people will buy 2-3 "cheaper" router solutions in the same lifetime of this type of configuration. So going with the best also ends up being the least amount of money in the long run.

Protecting the Entire House and Mobile Extensions
  • At the very minimum, you need to have a DNS (Domain Name Service) content filter. When you type in a web URL, it needs to know the actual number (IP) address of site you want to visit. DNS servers do this very task, convert a web URL into a numbered IP address.
  • SafeDNS SafeDNS is only $20 per year for your home. This will actually protect 3 unique IP addresses or homes (www.safedns.com).
  • Here is how it works. Your DNS servers from your standard Internet service provider will be replaced with the SafeDNS DNS servers. When your local network gives you an IP (from your router), it will already have the DNS servers for SafeDNS. Then when you are on the Internet and try to go to any URL, SafeDNS will determine if this site is in your allowed categories or not. If not, it will then redirect to a page preventing you from getting to the site and telling you why. Get 3 months free with the promo code unique to us: safefamily
  • OpenDNS If you don’t want to spend $20, then go to OpenDNS (www.opendns.com). It serves the very same purpose but has a free solution with the most important categories and elements blocked. There is also a $20 / year solution that is very professional and in some ways better than SafeDNS.
  • DNSFilter.com RecommendedOne that I really like and use both at home and in my businesses is DnsFilter.com. DnsFilter has one new advantage that the others don’t which is heuristic AI that can categorize any page on the fly, even if their engine has never been there before. This is a major feather in their cap, but this service does cost a bit more. This will be at least $5 per month, depending on the usage.
Router Content Filter
  • There are a number of routers (firewalls) that have built in content filtering services. Most of these require some type of annual service and some are better than others.
  • These routers are going to cost a little more, ranging from $99 - $400. But there is a side benefit to these. They can handle more throughput and have better routing software which means that your Internet will operate noticeably faster, especially when streaming video.
Router Recommendations
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Ubiquiti Dream Machine
Highly RecommendedBest Value
Cost: $300

This solution is great for homes that are 2000 sq. ft. or less and contains everything you need for a complete Ubiquiti solution including the router, access point, and controller all in one. For the money, this is a best value.

Ubiquiti Dream Machine
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Nighthawk AC3200
Recommended
Cost: $250

Like the Ubiquiti Dream Machine, this is an all-in-one unit that will provide good coverage throughout a 2000 sq.ft home. This model doesn't provide remote access, however, and doesn't have as much overall throughput.

Netgear Nighthawk AC3200
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Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600
Minimum Recommended
Cost: $170

This is an example of a minimum model that has all of the basics necessary to setup your secure home network. This device is a bit slower but is a great solution when on a tight budget.

Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600
Android Mobile Device Protection - Text, Web, and App Protection

Over the years, I have tried and recommended a number of different tools designed to keep devices safe. I know that this is not the most popular recommendation, but for your children, I always suggest an Android based device over an Apple device, solely for the ease of securing and protecting the device. Apple has many more restrictions from a development perspective, so without "jail-breaking" your Apple device, it is very difficult to completely secure. Android, on the other hand, is far more developer friendly from this perspective.

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MMGuardian
Highly Recommended
Cost: $35-$70 / Year

MMGuardian does a great job with SMS texts, better than any other app I have tested. However, there are some shortcomings in other areas. But when combined with Microsoft Family, this gives you the best overall solution based on my current testing.

MMGuardian
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Qustodio
Recommended
Cost: $55 / Year

Qustodio has a much cleaner and easier to use interface than MMGuardian, but the primary reason I moved away from Qustodio and back to MMGuardian was because of the SMS testing. Qustodio falls short in that department compared to MMGuardian.

MMGuardian
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Microsoft Family
Recommended
Cost: Free

Microsoft Family is a first line of defense for protecting computers and mobile devices. This will only work on Android devices and requires Microsoft Launcher to be downloaded and made the active launcher on the child mobile device.

Microsoft Family
Apple (iOS) Mobile Device Protection - Text, Web, and App Protection

One of the primary apps I used to recommend was uKnowKids which was started after a family friend suffered a tragedy due to digital technology. However, as of January 7, 2020, they no longer are in business. I will let them tell you in their own words below.

"...Many digital family safety problems remain unresolved as the big tech companies make it harder and harder for parents to keep their kids safe in this new digital world. While the uKnowKids team has worked relentlessly, we have simply not been able to overcome the many headwinds we faced.

The uKnowKids story ends here..."