Posts belonging to Category Internet



The Nativity Meets the Internet

What the birth of Jesus might have looked like if Joseph and Mary had Facebook and the Internet:

The Digital Story of Nativity (Video length: 2:58)

Click here for more Christmas posts.

Teens and Time Spent Online

If your kids are awake, they’re probably online. So reads the headline to a story in yesterday’s New York Times about today’s teens and how much time they spend online. The article highlights a new study on the online lives of children and teenagers by the Kaiser Family Foundation. As the report states:

Eight-to-eighteen-year-olds spend more time with media than in any other activity besides (maybe) sleeping — an average of more than 7 1/2 hours a day, seven days a week. The TV shows they watch, video games they play, songs they listen to, books they read and websites they visit are an enormous part of their lives, offering a constant stream of messages about families, peers, relationships, gender roles, sex, violence, food, values, clothes, an abundance of other topics too long to list.

These numbers are up from an average of nearly 6 1/2 hours a day measured five years ago. The study attributes the higher numbers to increased use of mobile devices such as cell phones and iPods.

It also cites a lack of parental supervision. According to the report, most youth say they have no rules about how much time they can spend with tv, video games, or computers. But when parents do set limits, children spend less time with media: those with any media rules consume nearly 3 hours less media per day than those with no rules.

“The amount of time young people spend with media has grown to where it’s even more than a full-time work week,” said Drew Altman, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation. “When children are spending this much time doing anything, we need to understand how it’s affecting them – for good and bad.”

If you would like some tips on managing media consumption in the home, let me recommend an earlier series from this blog on the subject: Taming Technology in the Home. What are your thoughts about teens and time spent online?

Online Church

A friend sent me a link to this article about online church and asked what I thought. I think online church can be great for evangelism and as a supplement to the local church, but not as a substitute for the local church. Probably the closest thing we find to online church in the Bible is in 1 Corinthians where Paul writes:

“Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 5:3-5)

Here Paul sees himself as with the church in spirit even though he is not physically present. However, this would seem to be the exception rather than the rule. Notice also that Paul is joining in spirit with a church that is actually gathering together physically.

The apostle John certainly felt that physical presence with each other was important for true fellowship:

I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete. (1 John 12)

Pastor/author John Stott wrote these rather prophetic words back in 1982:

It is difficult to imagine the world in the year A.D. 2000, by which time versatile micro-processors are likely to be as common as simple calculators are today. We should certaily welcome the fact that the silicon chip will transcend human brain-power, as the machine has transcended human muscle-power. Much less welcome will be the probable reduction of human contact as the new electronic network renders personal relationships ever less necessary. In such a dehumanized society the fellowship of the local church will become increasingly important, whose members meet one another, and talk and listen to one another in person rather than on screen. In this human context of mutual love the speaking and hearing of the Word of God is also likely to become more necessary for the preservation of our humanness, not less.
    — John Stott, I Believe in Preaching, p. 69. (HT: Luke)

Back to the article, here are a couple things that bugged me in it:

    “On one site, viewers can click on a tab during worship to accept Christ as their savior.” I don’t know that asking someone simply to raise his or her hand to accept Christ is much better, but I think we are moving in the wrong direction here.

    “[One church] buys Google ad words so that a person searching for ‘sex’ or ‘naked ladies’ sees an ad inviting them to a live worship service instead.” I’m all for reaching people for Christ, but I’m not sure how this squares with 2 Corinthians 4:2 (“We have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception”) or 1 Thessalonians 2:3 (“The appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you.”) Different contexts, but the principle of no deception still applies.

So, I don’t like the idea of virtual church replacing actual church. And I am a little leery of some of the methods being used. But I don’t want to nitpick either. “The important thing is that … Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” (Philippians 1:18) What do you think about online church?

Further reading:
    • Is Online Church Really Church? (Mark Roberts)
    • Churches Reaching Less Than One Percent of Virtual World (MMI)

5 Fun Facts about the Internet in 1996

Slate had an interesting article last month about the Internet back in 1996. Here are five facts that jumped out at me.

In 1996:

  • Only 20 million American adults had access to the Internet, about as many as subscribe to satellite radio today. (Internet World Stats reports nearly 250 million Internet users in North America today.)
  • Americans with Internet access spent fewer than 30 minutes a month surfing the Web. (Today, we spend about 27 hours a month online.)
  • You accessed the Internet by dial-up modem, tied up your phone line, and paid by the hour. Plus, it took about 30 seconds to load each page.
  • There was not a whole lot to do online. There was no YouTube, Digg, Google, Twitter, Facebook, or Wikipedia. There was no instant messaging or online MP3’s. Amazon was just getting started and only sold books. You mostly checked news, weather and email.
  • Yahoo produced its search directory using actual human beings who reviewed new sites and cataloged them. Obviously, this model was unable to keep pace with the growth of the Web.

What do you remember about those early internet days? How do you think the Internet may change in the next decade?

HT: Christ and Pop Culture

Related posts:

Online Missions Trip

Online Missions Trip

Multiple churches from around the world recently completed an Online Missions Trip with the purpose of sharing the gospel on popular social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter. You can track the follow-up to the event here.

This sounds like a great idea if approached with wisdom and sensitivity. What do you think about reaching out with the gospel online? What would you recommend, and what cautions would you offer?

Climate Change Bias at Wikipedia?

Lawrence Solomon at the Financial Post:

As I’m writing this column for the Financial Post, I am simultaneously editing a page on Wikipedia. I am confident that just about everything I write for my column will be available for you to read. I am equally confident that you will be able to read just about nothing that I write for the page on Wikipedia.

Solomon goes on to explain how every time he corrects certain information relating to climate change in Wikipedia, another editor immediately undoes his changes. It is not only a fascinating look at possible climate change bias at Wikipedia, but also a good reminder why Wikipedia is not always a reliable source of information. (HT: Instapundit)

Click here for more posts on the Environment.

Taming the Internet in the Home

Taming Technology in the Home series:
    ● Taming Television in the Home
    ● Taming Video Games in the Home
    ● Taming the Internet in the Home

Today’s is the last post in the Taming Technology series. We have looked at television and video games. Now it is time to look at the internet. The internet poses more dangers for children than television and video games combined. A short list of dangers would include inappropriate content, online predators and internet addiction. Just about everything good or bad you can find in the world, you can also find online. Sometimes it finds you — even when you are not looking for it! I would no sooner turn my child loose on the internet unprotected or unsupervised than I would drop him off in the back streets of the city at night. How do you protect your child from the dangers of the internet? Here are some pointers.

  • Educate yourself: First, educate yourself on the dangers of the internet. If you don’t know what’s out there, how can you protect your child? The FBI Parent’s Guide is a good place to start. Then educate yourself on basic internet safety. Children’s Partnership has a great guide that you can access here: Internet Safety Guide.
  • Talk with your children: Talk with your children about potential dangers on the internet. Don’t just warn them about the dangers. Share real life examples when you hear about them on the news. Sharing about an actual teen who had an online predator show up at her home is far more effective than just warning about things that might happen.
  • Keep it public: As with the TV, keep the computer in a public place in the home. The screen should be visible to anyone who happens to enter the room. Visibility adds accountability and is a great protective measure.
  • Monitor activity: Monitor your children’s online activities. You don’t have to snoop. Just let your children know that for their safety you will monitor all activity online. Share your child’s email account and password. Check history reports from time to time. Approve any chat rooms in advance. Find safe places and forums where your child may interact online.
  • No personal information: This cannot be emphasized enough. Your child should never give out their personal information to strangers or in a public forum. This would especially include name, address, phone number or school name.

And then, in keeping with our fighting technology with technology theme:

  • Use filtering software: Filtering software will not only protect your children from going to bad sites. It will also protect them from accidentally accessing or being exposed to inappropriate materials. There is some horrific stuff out there, and you cannot simply erase a shocking image from your child’s memory. There are a number of good filtering programs available. This site compares ten of the top programs on one page: Internet Filter Software Review 2008.

    We used Safe Eyes (#7 on the list) for awhile but recently switched to Net Nanny from Content Watch (#1 on the list). I like Net Nanny much better. It is only $30 and features multiple user accounts, editable filter lists, time controls, history reports, notification alerts, plus monitoring tools for web browsing, email and chat rooms. I also found it very easy to set up and configure.

So, what things have you done to help tame the internet in your home? Please feel free to share in the comments below.

I hope you have enjoyed this series! Please pass the links on to any families you know who would benefit from the information.

Taming Technology in the Home

Taming Technology in the Home series:
    ● Taming Television in the Home
    ● Taming Video Games in the Home
    ● Taming the Internet in the Home

This series of posts will deal with three particular forms of technology in the home — television, video games and the internet. All three of these have the potential both for good and for harm. So how do you enjoy the positive aspects while guarding against the negative? This question becomes especially important if you have children in the home. You want your children to enjoy the benefits of technology, but you also have a responsibility to protect them from any possible dangers.

Some parents embrace technology in the home with little or no discernment. Ignoring the dangers, they allow an unbroken stream of media to flood their homes at all times. Other parents choose to eliminate technology from the home — no TV, video games or internet. This may take care of the problem in the short run, but it also cuts their children off from the potential benefits of these technologies. Most parents fall somewhere in between these two extremes and look for ways to tame technology in the home.

Like it or not, TV, video games and the internet are a part of life in the twenty-first century. We should protect our children from any negative aspects while teaching them to make wise decisions concerning technology and media in their lives. In this series I will be sharing some of the tools we have used with our children to help tame technology in our home. I invite you to come back and visit the series during the week and share your thoughts on any of these areas. You can also click here to subscribe to this blog by email or feed reader.

Click here for next post in series: Taming Television in the Home

Fall Church Shopping over the Internet

Note: that’s “church shopping,” not “church hopping,” although both seem to be frequent occurrences nowadays. USA Today reports:

Across the country, fall is high season for “church shopping,” as people in search of a new faith community to call home set about the task of finding one. But that doesn’t mean they’re showing up, singing hymns, shaking hands and sampling doughnuts at a different church each week. Instead, observers say, they’re visiting church websites and evaluating congregations — often without having actually met anyone at the church …

Church shoppers “used to have to go to the service, sit in the back row and watch,” says Tom Bandy, president of EasumBandy & Associates, a church consultancy. “The website has just replaced that. The color schemes, the formatting, the language, the music — those things powerfully reveal who they (in the church) want to come there and who’s going to be accepted there.”

Says Mark Sorensen, who oversees the site [at Community Church of Joy in Glendale, Arizona]: “Just like people do a lot of car shopping and major purchase shopping online, they see what they can find out about the church online before their decision to come for the first time.”

Large churches, especially evangelical ones, are most inclined to use the Web for outreach. Eighty-two percent of churches with more than 200 worship attendees have websites, compared with only 29% of those with fewer than 100, according to a 2006 Ellison Research survey of 871 Protestant congregations nationwide.

Church shopping in the fall? Who would have thunk it? I know a lot of people start their Christmas shopping in the fall. Perhaps people are looking for a church home in time for the holidays.

Have you been “church shopping” recently? If so, how big a role did the internet play in your search? Or, even if you haven’t been church shopping, how important are church websites to you? Does your church have a website? Do you use it? Feel free to share your thoughts on churches and websites in the comments section.

Note: Here is our church’s website: Agawam Church of the Bible
(HT: MMI)

Media Access for the Next Generation (4)

Media Access for the Next Generation:
    1. Introduction
    2. Immediate Access
    3. Localized Storage
    4. Subscription Services

Immediate access to the internet will lead to localized storage of media. The next logical step is a shift away from ownership of media to subscription services.

Why do we buy MP3s and CDs instead of waiting for the song to play on the radio, or DVDs instead of waiting for the movie to play on TV? Because we want to be able to play the song or movie whenever we want. Purchasing the media means we can access the media at any time.

But once you have immediate access to the internet, subscription services will also allow you to access various media whenever you want. Cable On-Demand is an example of a subscription service with a limited number of movie options. What if you could subscribe to a media service that allowed you an unlimited number of media options with immediate access wherever you went? Pick any movie or song and play it wherever and whenever you want.

Immediate access to a variety of media will take away much of the mystique of personal ownership. Why invest hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on DVDs that you may only watch once or twice, when you can watch them anytime you want for a regular subscription fee? The same applies for music and books. Some people have already chosen this option through mail-order subscription services like Netflix, but once you have the option of immediate access, more and more people will move to subscription-based services rather than direct ownership of media.

So, those are some of the ways that I think media access will be different for the next generation. Many of these changes are already taking place, and I expect they will be fully implemented by the time the next generation starts accessing media. Anybody want to make some guesses as to what changes will take place for two generations down the road?

Action points:

  • Do you have an idea on this topic? Share it in the comments!
  • Did you enjoy this post? Subscribe to this blog by email or feed reader.

Links to other posts in the series:   Part 1,   Part 2,   Part 3,   Part 4

Media Access for the Next Generation (3)

Media Access for the Next Generation:
    1. Introduction
    2. Immediate Access
    3. Localized Storage
    4. Subscription Services

Immediate access to the internet at all times and in all places will change the way we store and access information. Right now we store our files, music and movies in various places and on various media. We have files at work and files at home, as well as files on a handheld or laptop, all of which constantly need synchronizing. We have MP3s on our computers and iPods, as well as CDs and DVDs on the shelf.

Think of how all this will change when you have immediate access to the internet. You will no longer need to store your files in separate locations. Whether you store them at home or some place online, you will be able to access them wherever you go.

What if your iPod was no longer a storage device, but merely an access device? What if all your files, programs, music, movies and even books were stored digitally in one place, and you merely used your handheld or laptop to access them whenever you wanted? What if you could access your media from any television, computer or handheld device in the world?

You would no longer have to worry about the storage capacity of your portable device. You would no longer need shelf space for CDs and DVDs. You would no longer have to synchronize different sets of files, because you would only be working with one set of files from a single location. (Of course, regular back-ups would still be essential.)

For me the ideal, portable access device would be about the size of a small book, maybe 6 x 9 inches, small enough to carry around, yet with a large enough screen for reading books, browsing information, or working with files.

So, immediate access to the internet will lead to localized storage – which will lead to devices that focus on access rather than storage. This will lead to yet another big change: the shift away from ownership of media to subscription services. (continued tomorrow)

Action points:

  • Do you have an idea on this topic? Share it in the comments!
  • Did you enjoy this post? Subscribe to this blog by email or feed reader.

Links to other posts in the series:   Part 1,   Part 2,   Part 3,   Part 4

Media Access for the Next Generation (2)

Media Access for the Next Generation:
    1. Introduction
    2. Immediate Access
    3. Localized Storage
    4. Subscription Services

The major difference in media consumption for the next generation will be immediate access to the internet at all times and in all places. This will transform the way we use the internet just as cell phones have changed the way we use the telephone.

Thus far, the internet has largely been a “fixed” experience. Yes, you can access almost anything in the world, but only from specific locations. Most of us still access the internet from two primary locations: the home computer and the office computer. But with the advent of wireless, hot spots, Blackberries and iPhones, that is all beginning to change.

Just as this generation cannot fathom life without the internet, the next generation will strain at the thought of having to go to specific locations to access the internet. “You mean, you had to go home or to the office to check the weather, the movie reviews, Google maps, etc.? That doesn’t make any sense! The whole point of the internet is that you can access information anywhere at any time.” Or, at least, that’s the way the new generation will see it.

So, my generation grew up with no internet access at all. The present generation grew up with internet access from specific locations. The next generation will grow up with immediate access to the internet wherever they go. And that will effect startling changes in the way the next generation will access their media, such as music, movies and books.

Tomorrow we will look at one of those changes – the shift from storing media in multiple locations to localized storage.

Action points:

  • Do you have an idea on this topic? Share it in the comments!
  • Did you enjoy this post? Subscribe to this blog by email or feed reader.

Links to other posts in the series:   Part 1,   Part 2,   Part 3,   Part 4