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Cyber Bullying, Cyber Porn, Video Gaming

with Brian Housman | March 25, 2015

The dangers of the world used to be "out there." But now the world's dangers can waltz right into your home with or without your invitation through the use of the internet. Youth expert Brian Housman addresses parents' concerns about cyber bullying, cyber porn, and video gaming.

The dangers of the world used to be "out there." But now the world's dangers can waltz right into your home with or without your invitation through the use of the internet. Youth expert Brian Housman addresses parents' concerns about cyber bullying, cyber porn, and video gaming.

Cyber Bullying, Cyber Porn, Video Gaming

With Brian Housman
|
March 25, 2015
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob: In the online world among adolescents, there is a point at which teasing can turn into something more dangerous / more destructive. It can become bullying. Brian Housman says, “Moms and dads have got to be alert to this.” 

Brian: The biggest step that you can take, as parent, is—if your child is willing to be transparent and trusting enough to come tell you that “This is what is happening to me,” or “…happened to me,” then, you need to make a big deal about it. I don’t mean make a big deal in terms of embarrassing your child, but take it seriously. Your child is emotionally/relationally putting themselves at risk to come and share this information with you, that’s embarrassing to them. They already feel lowly about themselves and, so, you need to take this seriously. Don’t just blow it off like it’s no big deal.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, March 25th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine.  Cyber bullying is very real. It’s one of the things we’re going to talk about today as we talk about how you can be a tech-savvy parent.

1:00

 

Stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us.

Dennis: Bob, were you ever bullied, as a kid? 

Bob: Yes, I was.

Dennis: Where did it happen? 

Bob: In the bathroom at Nipher Junior High.

Dennis: And I was bullied on the way home from school one day, as a third or fourth grader, by three guys who were older and bigger than me.

Bob: Yes, what did they want? 


Dennis: Just to beat me up and make me eat a dead sparrow. We live in a different day, today, where—well, let’s let our guest, on the broadcast, explain how severe this problem is. The author of the book, Tech Savvy Parenting, Brian Housman, joins us again on FamilyLife Today. Brian, welcome back.

Brian: Oh, thank you so much. I’m so grateful to be here with you guys.

Dennis: We want to talk about bullying, about porn, and about video games.

2:00

 

You’ve been working in this area, now, since 2001, in your organization called 360 Family.

Brian: Yes.

Dennis: How big of a problem is bullying today and how concerned should parents be? 


Brian: I think cyber bullying is the biggest issue that parents don’t know about today. Less than 9 percent of all parents said that they are concerned about their child being cyber bullied, but over 40 percent of all teens say that they have been a victim of cyber bullying in some way. That’s a huge discrepancy between reality and the fantasy world that we live in, sometimes, as parents.

Bob: Well, you talk about cyber bullying—and so, what I think is some older kids saying something mean about my son or daughter online. I just say: “Look, just sluff it off. Ignore it. It’s not—so, somebody says something mean to you.”  Am I naïve in terms of what the bullying looks like? 

Brian: Yes, I think especially, as dads, because that’s usually—our response is one of two things—

3:00

 

—either we say: “Oh, just ignore it. It’s not that big a deal,” or we say, “Hey, you need to take it back at them.” 


Bob: Yes; “Go beat them up!” 

Brian: “Go toe to toe with them!” 


Bob: Right.


Brian: Yes, just like our dads would have said when we were boys: “If he hits you, just hit him back.”  And of course, we know that solved nothing.


Bob: Right.

Brian: All it did was inflame the bully even more, which is exactly what it does. If your child is being bullied, and you tell your child to retaliate by responding to the bully, it does several things. One—it inflames the bully because now the bully knows that you’re there. They know that you saw what they’re saying to you. So, now, they’ve got a conversation with you, now—and they’ve got a written record. They are going to have a screen shot of what your kid has said. And three, they are going to manipulate the words of what your child has said to make them look even weaker and more inept than they felt already themselves.

And so, responding to the bully is never—I mean—never a good idea, Mom and Dad.

Dennis: And some of these bullying techniques have really become sophisticated. I read about one, where there were a dozen pictures of young ladies from a high school. They had a beauty contest, online, and you voted.

4:00

 

Well, one young lady got nada—not a vote.

Brian: Yes.

Dennis: Hundreds of votes being cast among her peers, and she didn’t get one.

Brian: There is an app out now that is very hot. It’s one of the top ten apps that teens are downloading on their i-devices called “Hot or Not.”  I asked my daughter, “So, how many of your—do you have friends of yours that actually have this?”—because she was just laughing like, “This is the most ridiculous thing.”  She said, “Yes,”—she actually has friends who have it. It’s kind of a fun thing that the girls do at their sleepovers. They get together, and they all pull out their “Hot or Not” apps. It’s a very rudimentary app—very simple. What it does is—it pulls up a picture of every person that’s on there. You just click “Hot” or “Not”. Then, it just rates them.

Then, I said, “What’s the point of this? Is there a—like do you have hotness points or something?”  And she said, “Yes, at the end of the week, it rates the people in your community.” 

5:00

 

You could pull up people who are in Little Rock, or Memphis, or Nashville, or wherever and show their hotness rating that week.

Imagine—like that young lady who got nothing—but also imagine, on the flip end, that you are a 15-year-old girl, who struggles with your body image, like every other teenage girl does. You put a picture that you felt like made you look attractive. All of a sudden, you’ve got 200 guys in your community that said that you were “Hot.” So, what are you going to do with the next picture?  What’s the logical next step?  Now, isn’t it, Mom, that the next step is to make yourself even “sexier” than the last picture, to look even hotter than before? 

And so, I think—again, it begins into that narcissism and the sinful part of our nature that “I’ve got to be attractive to other people out there.” 

Bob: And you look at the girl who, last week, was the hottest girl, and what she looked like, and what she did, and what she exposed, and now, she’s set the bar for what you need to do this week; right? 

6:00

Brian: Absolutely.

Dennis: And then, you have a young lady who takes the brunt of all the jokes. Everybody piles on in the school, sending negative emails, about this person. I read about one young lady who actually went home and committed suicide. In fact, I went online and read about it. It talked about how an amazing number of kids, who are bullied, seriously consider suicide. 

Brian: Oh, absolutely. There were three teenagers in America in the last two years—I write about it in the book—in the Tech Savvy Parenting book—there were three teenagers in America, last year, that committed suicide in conjunction with the app and website called Ask.fm. The site is made to be where you can go on and just ask questions about anything that you want.

Now, what we assume, as parents, is that the people our children are connected to on social media are actually friends or people that they know in real life—that you can set some kind of restrictions. A lot of them you can—on things like Facebook® or Twitter®

7:00

 

—but on Ask.fm, they want to be an open community. So, any question that you post, anyone else out there on the app can answer that question.


So, you’ve got girls that are doing things like going to the mall and going to a store like Delia’s or Justice—you know, popular girls stores—nothing inappropriate—but just taking a picture of themselves, trying on an outfit, and posting a picture of it on Ask.fm and saying: “Hey, I’m at the mall. I’m thinking about buying this new outfit. What do you guys think?”  Now, who does she think is going to respond to that picture? 

Bob: Her girlfriends.

Brian: Absolutely.

Bob: Right.

Brian: But in reality, it’s going to be the bullies, or it’s going to be the inappropriate men on there—that are saying the most vile, offensive, sexual stuff to her that doesn’t build up her self-image. It just makes her feel even less of a woman than she already felt before.

Bob: Okay, so, the issue here is that, because this is all happening in cyber space / because we’re not doing this, face to face, there is this increased freedom that people feel to say things that they would never say in a face-to-face encounter.

8:00

 

If you are going to live in the cyber world, isn’t this just a reality of what you are going to have to experience? 

Brian: I think that’s where it gets back to us, as a parent—as the adult population, we have got to be the ones setting the bar of what appropriate relationships look like—not just online, but face to face, as well. The same things that I would say to you to your face—that I cannot go beyond that when it goes online.

One of the biggest dangers with cyber bullying is because of the anonymity of it. Many times, we don’t know—over 40 percent of the time, we don’t know who the identity of the bully is.

You’ve got some young girl, who starts at a new middle school, where she is just trying to make new friends. Well, she doesn’t know that this boy she is talking to in the hallway is actually someone’s boyfriend—she’s just trying to make friends. All of a sudden, she gets a text message from ten digits that says: “You skank,” or “Who do you think you are?  I dare you to show up at school tomorrow. You should just go ahead and die!” 

9:00

 

I mean, these are honestly legitimate conversations that are happening with our kids. So, when she walks down the hallway, every person she sees, she thinks: “Well, it may have been her,” or “Maybe he sent it,” or “Maybe it was her.” 

Dennis: And here was the big “Aha” for me—that only one in ten of those who are victims of being bullied will tell their parents or a trusted adult for advice. It happens in secret, and the parents have no idea that it’s taking place.

Bob: Okay, so, we’ve got a problem. I’m a mom / I’m a dad—what’s the solution?  What can I do? 

Brian: The biggest step that you can take, as a parent, is—if your child is willing to be transparent and trusting enough to come tell you that “This is what’s happening to me,” or “…happened to me,” then, you need to make a big deal about it. I don’t mean make a big deal in terms of embarrassing your child, but take it seriously. Your child is emotionally/relationally putting themselves at risk to come and share this information with you, that’s embarrassing to them. They already feel lowly about themselves.

10:00

 

So, you need to take this seriously—don’t just blow it off like it’s no big deal.

Bob: Take it seriously by calling authorities, by— 

Brian: Yes. Typically, the only way cyber bullying stops is when an authority figure gets involved that can make it stop. You mentioned that only one out of ten kids is going to tell their parents. It’s because 85 percent of those kids that are bullied said that they felt like the adults didn’t make a big deal about it—that they didn’t take it seriously. So, they’re thinking, “Why should I share this when they don’t think it’s a big deal anyway?” 

So, the way that the cyber bullying stops is when an authority figure, with some muscle, gets involved—particularly a law official. My recommendation is—don’t go to the school and tell the counselor. So, then, the counselor is going to call your child and the bully in. They are going to have an after-school special together in the counselor’s office. That’s just going to be awful for your child, who is being bullied.

Instead, get a law official involved. All they’ve got to do is make a phone call to the house. They can drop by the house of the bully and say: “Here’s the message.

11:00

 

“This is on their phone, and you need it to stop now.” 

Dennis: I like that.

Brian: So, then, the bully—they know they are being pushed in a corner, and they could be held responsible for this.

Dennis: Okay, let’s quickly deal with the issue of cyber games and video games that are taking place today. These are dangerous as well.

Brian: Yes, absolutely; it’s primarily a guy-thing. About 15 to 20 percent of all gamers are now girls. So, it’s increasingly becoming a girl issue as well. There has been over 98 studies done, concerning video game violence. Ninety-six of those studies said that excessive exposure to video games causes a temporary effect on the moral decision-making of the game player—meaning that you are not able to think straight for a certain period of time when you play too much violent video games. It’s not just life-like violence, in terms of hand-to-hand combat or blood and gore, but it is sexual violence as well.

12:00

 

You know, we were talking, off the air, about the Grand Theft Auto game—

Bob: This is the number-one game sold; right? 

Brian: Yes. It made a billion dollars in three weeks. In this particular video game, you get to smoke crack, you get to go and have sex with prostitutes, and then kill her if you want to, you can go up to policemen and blow their brains out, literally, and watch it splatter across the screen, you can run over school children, you can—

Bob: You get points for doing all of this.

Brian: And you get—yes. Basically, the more evil—

Bob: You are rewarded. Yes.

Brian: —the more evil you are, the more points you get. Now, understand, parent, I am not against video games. I’m not against video game systems.

Bob: You’ve got gaming systems in your house.

Brian: We do. We have PSP’s and Xbox One’s and—

Bob: You couldn’t be the tech-savvy parent if you didn’t have this stuff.

Brian: Exactly. So, I don’t want you to think that I am against all this stuff; alright?—but my experience, when I go to these seminars—and we’ve done 30 of these seminars just in the last year—and during the seminar, I play one 60-second clip of actual game play from the game.

13:00

 

I was telling Bob, off the air—I said: “Within 20 seconds, parents are turning their eyes away because it is so violent. They are going, ‘I cannot watch this.’” They really are not aware that this is what their children are playing. If they were, there is no way a parent, in their right mind, would say, “It’s okay for my son to do this.” 

Dennis: So, go through the ratings, really quickly, and how a parent can spot where this kind of game is going to show up.

Brian: Well, on the front of every box of the video games, they are going to have a rating on there. I would say—if you’re going to go and buy a video game—which I think it’s great that, if your child is going to have video games—that you go together and buy the games so you can actually have a conversation together.

I would say—if your child is asking you for a game that’s rated “M,” you need to have some serious, serious reservations about that game and whether or not the content is something that you want your child exposed to. They’re typically “M”-rated because they are saying: “This is mature and only an adult, over 17 or 18, should be playing this game.” 

Bob: “M” is like an “R” or an “X”-rated movie.

14:00

 

Brian: Yes, it would be between an “R” and an “X”-rated movie.

Bob: Okay.


Brian: If it’s rated “E”, that means it is “E” for “Everyone.”  I think there are even some games—the one below “M” is “T” for “Teens.”  And there are even some that are rated “T” for “Teens” that you should be aware of, as a parent. It doesn’t mean that it’s okay for your 10-year-old to have it—just because it’s not “M”-rated.

Dennis: Let’s talk about what a parent needs to know, for sure, about the dangers of pornography online.

Brian: Wow, we could talk about this one for hours, unfortunately. I think digital pornography is the biggest issue that we don’t want to talk about in the Christian church today. We’re willing to talk about so many other issues because they are easy for us to talk about. They are comfortable for us—we’ll talk about politics. We’ll talk about abortion. We’ll talk about everything else, but we will not talk about digital pornography.

I think the reason why is because it affects almost every single one of us in the pew. Over 80 percent of all adolescent boys admit to struggling with digital pornography.

15:00

 

One out of three of all evangelical women struggle with digital pornography. Close to 40 percent of all men—married men—admit to struggling with it. And so, we just choose not to talk about it.

I was asked to speak at a big national camp, a few years ago. They asked me to do a one-on-one session with a group of the senior guys that were the leaders at the camp. And I asked them—I said, “How many of you were at church in the last two weeks?”  All 12 said, “Yes.”  I said, “How many of you were at your youth group in the last two weeks?”  All 12 said, “Yes.”  I said, “How many of you guys have looked at digital porn in the last two weeks?”  And 11 out of 12 said, “Yes.” Here it is—these are the guys that are the spiritual leaders in their youth group, and over 90 percent of them are saying, “This is a regular activity in my life.” 

And I know it’s affected my family. For me, what we’ve chosen to do—we’ve chosen to put internet blockers on our cell phones and on my laptops. The iPad® that I’m holding right now—it’s got internet protection software on it that only my wife knows the password.

16:00

 

I know, if you’re a guy out there, you can call me weak—I don’t care. I got tired of struggling, as a man and as a pastor, everyday, with getting emails saying: “Come check me out. Come look at me. Click, ‘Yes.’” 

For me, it started our third year of marriage. It was 1996 when we got our first computer in our house. Along with that, all of a sudden, come emails, saying, “Come check me out.” I decided: “I’m at home by myself. So, who’s ever going to know?”  So, I went and checked it out. It started a 20-year struggle in my life. I finally got to the place where I said, “I cannot regulate this myself.”  My wife got involved and, now, she is a partner with me in this. So, because of this, it’s been an ongoing conversation with both my son and my daughter.

Bob: Tell our listeners what you were telling me about what the net effect of that conversation with your son or daughter should be. A son comes to you and says, “Dad, I messed up,” or you find something on his device.

17:00

 

You say: “What is this?  What have you been looking at?”  What should he walk away with? 

Brian: Well, unfortunately, the tone of your voice just now was not the usual tone—I think we can agree.


Bob: Right.

Brian: Usually, it’s mom, who is more engaged, and she finds it. She comes to the son and says: “Is this what you’ve been looking at?!  I can’t believe you’d bring this into our home!  Is something you think God would approve of?!” 

Immediately, what you’ve just done, Mom, is you’ve brought shame into the equation. It will be the last conversation you ever have with your son about digital pornography—probably about anything sexually because shame is never from the Lord. Shame is always from our spiritual enemy, who desires to bring shame so we go further into the darkness.

Scripture tells us we are children of light. So, what Christ does is—the Holy Spirit—the gift that He left behind to us is the Holy Spirit—and He brings conviction to sin. That conviction brings us further into light and transforms us into Christ—

18:00

 

—that promise that He gave us, in Philippians, that He’d never stop this work that He began in us. So, you’ve got to handle this with much grace and mercy because it’s already embarrassing to your child when they know you know, as parent. So, I know—like with my son—we had to sit down. I had to say: “Hey, buddy, I saw this on your phone. We need to talk about this.”  And he was embarrassed. So, we sat down and had about a 30-minute conversation.

After the first conversation we had, though, was when he was nine years old because the average child’s first exposure to digital porn is between eight and twelve. And I thought, “I could be a fool and act like it’s not going to happen, or I can be engaged.” It wasn’t a conversation, talking about porn—he’s nine—he doesn’t know what that means. Instead, we just talked about what it means for someone to see you without your clothes on. He’s nine—he can understand what that means, and that it would be embarrassing to him. “That’s why we don’t look at other people, without their clothes on.”

19:00

 

Well, then, when he was 11, the conversation was about how his body is changing. As his body is changing, he is going to want answers about why things are happening to his body: “You can go to Google, and you can find answers. You can go to your friends, and you can ask them for answers. Or I will be your expert. As your dad, I am willing to always answer any question, at any time, that you have. I will never tell you, ‘Not right now.’  I will never tell you’re not old enough to know,”—because, Mom/Dad, if your child is asking a question, it’s because they’re ready for an answer.

Then, when he was 13—is when we had a conversation to say: “Hey, childhood is gone, and now, you’re becoming a man. Part of becoming a man is God is making your body ready to have your own family. And part of God making your body ready is now you are going to be physically and visually drawn to other women. God has designed that relationship to happen in a covenant relationship between a man and a woman committed for life.

20:00

 

Anything outside out of that is no longer holy. What the enemy wants to do is—he wants to draw you in and say, ‘Hey, you deserve this. You’ve earned the right to look at this,’ because that’s what happened to me.” 

I remember—for him, after it happened twice is—now, I was able to explain to him my own history and my own story. I told him that day, Dennis, “You and me—the reason I’m having this conversation with you, my son, is because, you and me, we are a band of brothers. You’re not just my son. You’re my brother in Christ, and I will always have your back. No matter how many times you fall in this trench, I will jump in with you; and together, you and me, will find a way back to Christ together.” 

Dennis: Well, that’s the advice of a godly father to his son and, for that matter, to a daughter in the midst of an evil age. This is a challenging time to be raising children. And Brian, I want to thank you for your book—

21:00

 

Tech Savvy Parenting. Just appreciate your being on the broadcast.

I was reflecting back on what we’ve talked about. You have really challenged us to go back to what Paul talked about in Philippians, Chapter 4, verse 8: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me practice these things and the God of Peace will be with you.” 

Bob: That’s the best filtering program out there; isn’t it? 


Dennis: It really is. It’s a parent, who is calling their children to a godly lifestyle; and secondly, it’s a parent who is living it so they can say to their child:

22:00

 

“What you have seen and heard and been instructed by me, practice this.” 

Bob: Yes. You know, we’ve already had a lot of moms and dads who have gotten in touch with us this week and said, “I’m interested in doing a better job in this area of making sure I understand the world my kids are living in.”  They’ve called to order your book, which is called Tech Savvy Parenting. Of course, we’ve got that book available in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. Our listeners can go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper left-hand corner that says, “GO DEEPER.”  Again, it’s called Tech Savvy Parenting by Brian Housman. You can order from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.” 

23:00

 

You know, our hope, every time we put one of these radio programs together, is that what we talk about is going to provide listeners with practical biblical help for your marriage and for your family because, honestly, I think all of us need this kind of regular reinforcement of biblical values to know how we’re going to raise our kids and how we’re going to maintain a strong, healthy, vibrant marriage relationship.

That’s our mission, here at FamilyLife Today. We want to effectively develop godly families who change the world, one home at a time. And we appreciate those of you who donate, from time to time, and those of you who are regular donors, as Legacy Partners.

If you are able to help with a donation, right now, we’d like to say, “Thank you,” by sending you a set of Resurrection Eggs®. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper right-hand corner of the screen that says, “I CARE,” and make an online donation. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a donation over the phone.

24:00

 

And of course, you can mail a donation to us if you’d like at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223. Again, ask for a set of Resurrection Eggs when you make a donation today.

And I hope you can be with us tomorrow when we’re going to talk about adoption. We’re going to talk about one of those hard-case adoptions, where things got tough for Brian Borgman and his wife. Brian will be here to share their story tomorrow. I hope you can tune in for that.

 

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.

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