Hottest pool dunk ever

No, I’m sorry, your church liability policy doesn’t include jumping through hoops of fire.

Pandas playing on a slide

Everybody say it together … “AWWWWWWWwwwwwww”.

Weird Al is “Tacky”

The Carrot Clarinet

Tiny Birthday for a Tiny Hedgehog

The 5 Most Dangerous Apps Your Kids are Using Right Now

Guest post by Mark Adkison, Co-Founder of ZABRA.com and Team interlinc member

As part of my job, I typically surf around social media sites and try to find the lay of the land, figure out the apps and then find ways to abuse those apps for potentially bad purposes. Most of the time, people keep it “between the lines.” However, there are examples of a few I’ve come across lately that I felt needed some calling out.

So, I’ve put together a little list of the top 5 Apps/sites your kids may be using and could be dangerous. You may be asking yourself, is an APP different from a site. In most cases, it’s the same thing. An app is literally an “application” (hence the word APP) that interacts with a website in one cohesive way. So, why do kids use APPS instead of sites? One, it’s typically easier to use than a website on a mobile device. Typing www.Facebook.com and then logging in, have to “pinch and zoom” to see the pages at the right level, etc. An APP streamlines all that cohesively and makes it easier to use.

Here’s my list of 5 Apps that parents, youth leaders, teachers … or anyone who hangs out with students … need to be aware of:

Snapchat
We’ve all read the headlines and news reports about how kids are getting into trouble using this app. Didn’t know about Snapchat? Here is their official explanation on their app:

“Snapchat is a photo messaging application (“app”) developed by Evan Spiegel and Robert Murphy, then Stanford University students. Using the application, users can take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients.”

The key is “controlled list of recipients”. I can send a picture to someone that I choose. They may or may not want the pic. Then it magically disappears. That’s the “draw” for kids. I can send a weird picture and it disappears. The new draw is that now you can do video, much like Skype or other video chat services. It’s also important to note that the CEO of Snapchat is in hot water because of recently released emails he sent while in college.

Yik Yak
Developed by two guys from Furman University, Yik Yak is the place to sound off anonymously about anything that’s on your mind. Two seconds on the APP and you’ll see why this reminds me of the old bulletin boards that dominated the internet in its early days. Random, filthy and potentially harmful and dangerous to your kids. Enough said! Here is an example:
yikyak

Whisper
Similar to YikYak but with pictures, Whisper allows people to post a graphical version of whatever they’re thinking at the time. While many of these “whispers” appear to be harmless, it only takes one to really freak you out. Example: “I’m alone in the world and I’m only 18. My mom is in prison, I’ve never met my dad. Thinking I should end it all.” I also read “18/M looking to hook up with a Female hottie tonight. Who’s game?” Users can also leave comments and connect on the APP as well. So not only is this a place for people to publicly and anonymously tell their secrets, it’s a place where potential predators could be lurking and wanting to groom your child. Here are a few examples:
whisper2_200whisper3_200

Secret
Very similar to Whisper, Secret allows users to post confessions and secrets anonymously with graphics that are randomly selected or uploaded from the user’s personal pics.

secret

Instagram Direct
Chances are your child has this APP already installed on their device. They probably use it constantly throughout the day. However, there is a new feature that Instagram rarely touts. It’s called Instagram Direct and allows communication and the ability to send a direct message to your child with a picture.

If you don’t know where Instagram Direct is located, then below is where you can find where this feature is located within the Instagram app.
instagram copy
Wait, doesn’t ZABRA monitor Instagram? Yes, we do. However, the API (programing that allows ZABRA to monitor specific accounts on Instagram) doesn’t allow our filters to examine Instagram Direct … at all. Have we asked? Yes. According to Instagram there are no plans to make this available for systems like us to monitor these messages. So what do you do? You should have a discussion with your child about not using this feature on their Instagram account. Also, taking time to spot check this is simple and easy and gives you a great “excuse” to engage and have a discussion with your kids about what they’re doing on social media.

So while this message is geared towards parents, it’s important for anyone who has influence and can speak to kids and/or parents to warn them of the dangers of social media. When I speak with kids and parents, I always says something like this: The best way to prevent a child from getting into trouble online is to keep them off as long as possible. But at some point in time, you will likely get asked about a phone, computer, etc. It’s our responsibility to teach kids the “do’s and don’ts” of the web, mobile devices and applications … just like we do in the real world.


Mark Adkison is Co-founder of ZABRA.com and currently works as VP of Product and Content Development. Mark is 20 year veteran of the music industry working for ForeFront Records and EMI Christian Music Group in promotion, marketing and technology and co-founded the popular music site HearItFirst.com.

Nana vs. Dirt

Cliff Slip and Slide

Don’t you wish you could set this up for next Wednesday night …

How to: Build a giant air cannon

This is a how-to every youth leader needs!

5 Things To Unpack From Camp (Tips For Parents)

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Guest post by Paul Turner, Pleasant Grove Assembly of God in Pleasant Grove, Alabama

Editor’s Note: This article is from the YLO95 Resource Book. Paul has some great guidance for you to share with your parents as they anticipate the end of camp. Feel free to share this link in your newsletter or email to mom and dad as you head off to camp this summer.


Your son or daughter will be coming home from camp soon. In addition to shirts, pants, and underwear they will be unpacking their problems, victories, and emotions. When they arrive home and experience reentry into the reality of life, they will need a little help. Reentry can be a delicate time. Look over these instructions as you help your child unpack from camp.

1. What You Should Unpack Before Your Package Arrives Expectations
Remind yourself that this is a journey and your child will spend the rest of his or her Christian life unpacking what God has put in them – and so will you. Understanding – When your child doesn’t live up to his or her expectations and becomes discouraged, offer a listening ear, not a condemning finger.

A Heart For New Beginnings – Whatever has happened in past should remain there. Your child may be bringing back some new commitments – you could also make some new commitments and join the journey with him or her. Let the arguments and face offs of the past remain in the past. Coming home from camp is a great opportunity to start fresh.

2. Your Package Arrives: Handle With Care
No one will be more excited about camp than your child. If your child has never been to camp before, get ready for a few stories. If they are in junior high grab a seat because they won’t stop talking! Start to unpack slowly. Take all the “big items” out first. They will want to talk about the Blob™ they might have jumped on, all the fun games they played, and the late night shaving cream fight none of the counselors knew about. Rejoice with them over meal times, and maybe when they arrive arrange a special dinner out. Make sure you allow your son or daughter to unpack in their own time, but questions about the big stuff are okay to begin with.

3. Small Pieces May Cause Choking
While unpacking, (which may take a few weeks) look for “small pieces” of the story. Some students are not very talkative about their spiritual moments while others make it the centerpiece of their conversations. They may mention the services at night or the daily devotion. If they like to write, you may want to present them with a journal to record all their moments. (If you are reading this article before they go to camp, buy them a journal and pack it off with them.) Ask them to share their favorite yet not too personal moments with you when they get back. Pick up on the “small pieces” of their camp experience such as a counselor they keep mentioning or a favorite song they learned at camp and now hum around the house. Use that as a catalyst for further discussion about spiritual things.

4. Maintenance For Your New or Refurbished Student
Parents often ask the question, “How do I keep my kid on track?” Post-camp life can be traumatic. The commitments they made will be tested. The devil does not want them to succeed in following God. The feelings of guilt are magnified in the life of a young person. They see themselves as strong people; and when they act in opposition to the commitment they’ve made, they are prone to give up or to believe they just don’t “have it.” A few Scriptures to have handy are Romans 7:15, 1 John 1:9 and Romans 8:1.

5. Call The Shipping Department If You Have Any Problems
If you experience any problems unpacking you package call “shipping” – your youth pastor and youth leaders. What problems might you experience? Extremism – Your child might adopt unbiblical, extreme views about their culture and even toward some lifestyles in their family. They might think to themselves, “They (family, friends, etc) are not living the Christian life like I think they should.” Remind them God’s grace and love for them, and that same grace and love should be given to others. Fascination With End Times – It’s not unusual that the Book of Revelations or the Second Coming of Christ comes up at camp. This can produce an unnatural fear or curiosity about the return of Christ. The antidote for this is to focus on the person of Christ. When the disciples became interested in the time of Christ’s return, Jesus turned their focus to the task at hand – being His witnesses (Acts 1:4-8).

No Change At All? Camp might have no apparent effect. Your student may come back with no new convictions. Remember, camp does not change kids – God does. God will be not give up on all the seeds planted in your student’s heart; they will flourish and grow. If you are committed to your child’s spiritual growth I can guarantee a few things: God is committed to you and your family’s success; your youth pastor cares about your child’s spiritual growth; and you will still have to do lots of laundry when they return! The only thing I cannot guarantee about your “package” is their time of delivery. Enjoy the ride!