Archives For Internet Safety


Like any tool, Facebook should be used in an appropriate manner.  There are correct ways to use certain tools and, obviously, there are incorrect ways to use them.  Of course, from a Christian worldview, the purpose of Facebook may be completely different from someone who is not a Christian.  Since this is my blog and the lens at which I approach the world (or at least try to) is through Jesus Christ that is the way I want to approach Facebook.  I have compiled some general observations that range from Facebook annoyance to serious theological concern.  In no particular order here is my list to help you avoid being THAT girl or THAT guy.  Some of this is a bit sarcastic so please take my humor where it applies and do not be so full of yourself. 

  • The “comment-on-everything” person – There you are with your mobile device or at your laptop with WiFi commenting on this picture, on that statement, or this status.  When I look at your profile and see you have made 35 comments in one day I start to wonder if you are ever going to get out of the house and see the sun.  You know who you are…sitting there commenting on a photo 12 times so that when I get to my computer I have 65 notifications and it is ______________ commented on your photo…12 times!!!  Keep your comments to a minimum. 
  • The “hidden-message-status” person – This person tries to be all sneaky with their statuses as if what they are saying could only be decoded by special operatives in the CIA.  They make inferences, implications and try to be sneaky with their statuses like, “_________ is thinking of him” or, “___________ wonders what may come of this” and, “______________wishes that just did not happen.”  Look, if you want us to ask what happened, who you are thinking about and what may come of whatever it is that you are hiding than tell us otherwise do not make us go through FBI training to decode your weird status update.  If you want us to know then tell us!  But that leaves me to the next person…
  • The “my-life-is-going-to-end-status” person – This is one of the most annoying people out there because they pour out their raw, uncensored (I would add uneducated) emotions into a status update so that everyone can see.  Examples are “___________ is thinking that her life is ruined and there is no help in sight” and, “_____________ has been crying all night over her,” and my personal favorite, “_______________is in so much pain and does not know what to do.”  Look, I get it….you are struggling and you want some help but we do not want to see that.  Get the help you need from a counselor, a minister, a close friend but people on Facebook do not care that your life is ruined.  Most of the time your status the next day is “_____________ is on cloud-9 about him.” 
  • The “deep-quote-status” person – I am guilty of this but cut and pasting from a quote page and putting it on your status does not make you smarter.  Anyone can press CTRL+C and then CTRL+V.  I learned that in 9th grade typing class.  Be original people.  Also don’t plagiarise quotes…tell who and where it is from if you put it on there instead of  passing it off as if you are smart. 

Enough with the statuses…

  • The Farmville/Quiz Takers/Application Person – You annoy me more than anybody.  You sit there and play a weird game on Facebook that really does not matter and invite me and other people to play all the while taking up space on my news feed.  Shame on you…commmunicate with people instead of answering quizzes, building crops and other silly stuff. 
  • The “I-love-Jesus-religion-but-I-am-in-a-picture-at-a-party-with-alcohol” Person – You are the ones who say, “Jesus is my savior” yet you have pictures on your profile of you and others getting your drink on at a college party…not to mention you are underage and I can report you to the authorities if I wanted (I don’t but I could).  Look if Jesus was really your Savior you would not have pictures like that up there nor would you be touting movies like Mean Girls, Sex in the City, The Hangover and Scary Movie as some of your favorites.  Quit being hypocrite…maybe for your religion you should put: “Putting Jesus in the backseat for now,” or, “Sowing my wild oats,” or, “Apathetic at this point,” or, “Maybe later.”  I would believe that and actually think better of you.  Speaking of pictures…
  • The “revealing-but-not-really-picture” person – Facebook does not allow nudity on people’s pictures but there sure are many who are proud of their bodies.  Whether it is girls and their skimpy bathing suits showing everything but or guys taking pictures of themselves of their ripped abs in the mirror it is really annoying.  Really, why did you put that picture on your profile?  Because you are proud of your bod and want everybody to know it.  First of all, your body is not yours to begin with…it’s the Lord’s.  You are living in his temple so treat it as such.  Secondly, as a dad, I do not want people looking at my girls and as a husband I do not want people looking at my wife.  So…cover it up, hide it, tuck it in and be respectful 🙂

Hope you enjoyed this series and have learned how to use Facebook responsibly.  Love you all.


This is the post I did not want to write.  This is the post that will probably make you upset and want to click the little “X” icon at the top of your browser to close the blog and never return.  I don’t want you to do that but I understand why you would do that.  When an addict is confronted about their addiction their first response is anger and denial.  “I have everything under control” or, “I can quit any time I want to” are typical assertions by those who are, ironically, not in control and not able to quit.  So when you get mad at me I understand and your reaction is typical so I will not take offense to it.  I estimate that 50% of Main Street (congregation where I minister) uses Facebook (most of them are 25 and under) and roughly 25% of those are addicted to it.  There is no hard data that I make my observations from other than noticing the time spent on Facebook and the amount of activity based on their profile.  Before we begin with identifying if you are addicted and offering some help I want to first define what an addiction is:

An addiction is “the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma” (Source).

Please pay attention to the definition itself…key words are “enslaved, habit, practice, cessation and trauma.”  Let me define it in a way that a teenager would understand it: “anything that you can’t stop thinking about doing.  If you were to stop doing this activity then you would have severe withdrawals.”  There is no hard-fast way to prove that you are addicted (click here and click here for two articles about “signs that you are addicted”).  Below are some things that I want you to consider and then I will offer some suggestions for help.

  1. How much time are you on Facebook per week?  (click on survey below to see results)  No compare that with how much time you spend reading Scripture, praying, serving the community and worshiping.  Remember Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 6:24 where he stated that no man (and woman) can serve two masters?  That applies to anything and everything that evacuates your time and energy to the neglect and dismay of God Almighty!
  2. When you are on Facebook what are you doing?  I know people who spend 4-5 hours a week on Facebook but they are writing messages of encouragement and checking on people who have fallen away.  I would say that those 4-5 hours are spent wisely.  Most of us who spend 6+ hours on Facebook are doing one of the following: Facebook stalking, checking pictures, chating, checking updates, responding to comments or looking for friends.  Is that the best way to spend your time?
  3. How often do you check Facebook?  You can set your mobile device to receive updates from comments, statuses and messages.  Many of you have mobile Facebook where you can check from your cell phone.  How often do you do that?  When you wake up in the morning?  Right as you get out of school? During a down period at work?  Right before you go to bed?  Maybe you wake up at night and  can’t sleep so you check Facebook?
  4. If you were told not to check Facebook would that bother you?  Pay attention to how you answer the question because it is crucial to understanding if you are addicted.  You might say “Of course not,” then go without a day or so but in the back of your mind if you are wondering what is happening at Facebook then you are addicted.

By now you know if you struggle or not but I want to offer some advice…

  1. Write down how much time you use on Facebook.  Write down when, where and how you check Facebook.  This is crucial because it will show you how much time you spend so you can jump to…
  2. Admit that you have a problem.  Facebook is not wrong but when it takes away from family, homework, spiritual formation and work then it becomes an issue.
  3. Give yourself a set time to look at Facebook and be realistic.  “I will spend 8-10pm on Facebook” is a bit ridiculous.  Start by saying I will only spend 30 minutes from 4:00-4:30pm looking at Facebook and that is only to encourage people.  Gossip is easy on Facebook so try to avoid it.
  4. When you have withdrawal symptoms meditate on a favorite verse.  I recommend Proverbs 3:5-6.  When you think about Facebook just divert your thoughts to “trust in the Lord with all of your heart…”
  5. If you are really bold deactivate your Facebook account.  This will let you keep all of your data where as deleting your account will permanently destroy all of your pictures and what not.
  6. Block Facebook on your computer.  Of course you can unblock it but blocking it will let you know how serious you are.
  7. If you MUST use Facebook remember to use it in a way that gives God the glory.

I know this was a long post but I wanted to be honest with a problem I see among many teens, young adults and even older adults.  Tomorrow we delve into using Facebook appropriately by not being that guy or that girl.  Take the survey below.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, MAKING THE BEST USE OF THE TIME, (why Paul?) because the days are evil.  (Eph. 5:15-16).


We should not think that Facebook is an evil, diabolical vehicle maintained and operated by Satan himself.  Like most technology, it is not evil in-and-of itself but it always contains the potential to become evil when used for the wrong reasons.  Having said that, Facebook can be used for so much good that many churches, organizations, and individuals have been able to give God glory because of Facebook. 

On an individual level we can encourage people on Facebook. 

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.”  (1 Thess. 5:11)

We have a group on Facebook  called MAIN STREET MINISTRY and when people join this group I can send every member an e-mail about a person who recently passed away or a person who is having surgery.  When they receive that e-mail (message) they can either write on the person’s wall or send them a message that offers words of comfort or let’s the person know that prayers are offered on their behalf. 

Also events can be created for important congregational days.  Say your church is having a Family and Friends Day and you want to invite people to this then you can send invitations to all of your friends and your friends can send invitations and so on and so forth.  Here’s another evangelistic tool…you can also purchase FACEBOOK ADS  which target people in your area and a certain age bracket.  The ads appear on the right hand screen and when people click them it will send them to your event page.  You can do it for a few days or a whole month depending on your budget. 

Facebook can also be good to help reunite those who we thought were long gone.  I have rekindled old friendships and made contact with people who I never thought I would if it were not for Facebook.  Nostalgia can be harmful in some ways as some want to relive the glory days but it is great for people who want to let others know that they are praying for them.  I have been able to minister to old friends because of Facebook where as I would not have been able to do so.  Facebook is good because it allows us to be accountable to each other in a public manner.  If someone is clearly struggling then we have an opportunity to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2) in a quick and accessible way.  When we see people who are clearly doing things they should not we have a way to reprove those who need correction.   

There is plenty of good and righteous aspects in Facebook that could (and should) be used for the glory of God. What ideas have you had?  Share those in the comments section.


To let you knowhow much Facebook has taken over I want you to look at the picture to the right.  It is the bottom of a Wal-Mart receipt I received after shopping for some groceries last night.  Facebook is everywhere and has truly become part of society’s daily living.  We have learned the basics of Facebook and how to navigate through the Facebook interface.  Today’s blog post is perhaps the most important one as it deals with the issue of privacy.

Before we begin I want to first give you two sets of statistics.  The first deals with parents and how they monitor their child’s internet usage.  The second statistic deals with the reality of cyber-predators.[1]

  • 93% of parents say they have established rules for their child’s Internet activity.
  • 37% of students report being given no rules from their parents on using the Internet.
  • 47% of parents feel their ability to monitor and shelter their children from inappropriate material is limited.
  • 95% of parents say they know “some” or “a lot” about where their children go or what their children do on the Internet.
  • 41% of students do not share where they go or what they do on the Internet with their parents.
  • 26% of students believe their parents would be concerned if they knew what they did on the Internet.

Consider these statistics on predators…

  • 20% of high-school students (grades 9 through 12) have met face to face with someone they first met online.
  • 19% of middle-school students (grades 5 through 8) have met face to face with someone they first met online.
  • 10% of middle- and high-school students have met face to face with a stranger from the Internet who was not their own age.
  • 7% of middle- and high-school students have been asked by Internet strangers to keep their relationship a secret.
  • 13% of middle- and high-school students know they have been fooled about the age of someone they met on the Internet.
  • 27% of middle- and high-school students know someone who has made friends with a much older (at least 5 years older) person on the Internet.
  • 29% of middle- and high-school students have chatted or used IM with someone on the Internet they have never met face to face.
So what can we do in regards to Facebook?  First of all, as a parent and a user everyone needs to read Facebook’s privacy  policy at  (http://www.facebook.com/policy.php).
The policy states that if you are under 13 you are not allowed to use Facebook.  So if your child registered for Facebook and they were under 13 then they lied about their age.  Secondly, parents you need to check your child’s privacy settings.  Simply log in to their Facebook account and click the upper right-hand tab that says “Account” and scroll down to privacy settings.   It is here where you can click on who is allowed to see your photos, your location, your status, and things people can comment on and so on and so forth.  You can also click on “applications and settings” and set what applications you may use but also what information of YOU is available through your friends.  Also on the privacy setting page is a little tab called “Block lists.”  It is here where you can block users, events and invites from certain types of people.  For a full explanation of the privacy settings I recommend you go to the following website: http://www.facebook.com/privacy/explanation.php.
At the end of the day the only way you can fully be safe is to trust that your children are not befriending people they have never met.  Also making sure your children do not put revealing pictures of themselves or pictures that would put them in a negative light with the church.  I have actually heard of employees getting fired because of inappropriate Facebook pictures.  You must be completely aware of what your child is up to but that is not realistic and not possible.  What needs to happen is sound teaching mixed with appropriate internet surfing.  There are too many losers/creepers out there who do nothing but prey on innocent people.  That is why a parent must always have access to their children’s Facebook accounts…ALWAYS!!!  Just the knowledge of you having the passwords is enough for them to be responsible.
Tomorrow we will look at how Facebook can be used for good.

[1] From ISafe.org.  Check out the full report at http://www.isafe.org/imgs/pdf/mediakit/i-SAFE_Stats.pdf


In this post we will briefly look at some remaining major components of Facebook and then tomorrow we will look at some practical applications concerning Facebook.  These first few posts are probably dull to many of you as you already know how Facebook works but the purpose is for parents to have information who would not otherwise know.

MESSAGING – (See picture to the right) This function allows you to send and receive messages much like e-mail.  It almost appears like a thread of conversations (which Hotmail has coincidently started doing) when you send e-mails to the same person.  You can send a message to yourself or up to 20 people.  This function cannot be seen by the public since it only works in a person’s “inbox.” 

NEWS FEED – This is a function that simply displays news as soon as a person sign’s on to Facebook.  It displays news of people you are in most contact with or it can display news for particular groups of interest. 

CHAT – (See Picture to the left) This function works much like instant messaging does.  If a person is online (the picture to the left shows online friends and they online if a green dot is to the right of their name) then you can click on their name and chat with them (picture to the left and box to the left).  This function is not seen by the public either as it is live chat between you and another person.  Sometimes you may chat with numerous people at one time.  I am not aware of a chat room function for Facebook where you and a group of people can talk at one time like the old AOL had. 

GROUPS – This is simply a group that is started for a particular organization.  For example, Main Street Church of Christ has a group called Main Street Ministry.  You can have discussions on the group page, post videos, pictures and even send out mass messages to everyone in the group. 

CAUSES AND EVENTS – Often there is a particular cause that comes up like “Support AIDS Awareness” in which people join.  Some are serious and others are, well, inappropriate.  For example, I saw a cause that said, “If you hope Obama is assassinated” cause.  Technically that is a capital offence but there are other inappropriate causes.  Events are specific opportunities for parties, campaigns, retreats, or anything a person sets up for an event.  For example, I set up an event for Parent’s night Out where people could join and find out specifics on time, place and activities.   

Those are just a few functions and this is the basics of Facebook.  Tomorrow I want to discuss the need for privacy settings and what parents, youth ministers and teenagers can do to remain safe from danger.


If you have not done so read my previous post about Facebook by clicking here.

Let’s start with the basic and move towards the complex when it comes to Facebook.  When you begin the process of a Facebook account they will ask you for your e-mail and a password.  Then you will fill out information about who you are and what your likes and dislikes.  All of this is designed to be viewed as your PROFILE (see picture above).  What people will see is your relationship status (married, single, engaged, it’s complicated, etc.), your birthday, your political views, where you work, where you graduated from and even more information.  Once you enter your education it automatically attaches you to a network (mine is Freed-Hardeman) that links you to other people.  You can upload a photo that serves as your profile “pic” (see above) that allows others to see what you look like. 

Another basic function of Facebook is what is known as a WALL.  A wall is the place where the person posts their STATUS UPDATE  (e.g. Robbie Mackenzie is annoyed; look beside David Chartier on the right) but also it lets you know whether they have commented on another person’s wall, picture or status update.  All of your activity can be seen on your wall.  If someone changes anything (relationship status, picture, movies, etc.) it is posted on the wall so that other people can see. 

A third basic component of Facebook are the PHOTOS and VIDEOS function.  This is where a person can upload pictures (from a camera or saved file) and post them on their account under the tab “photos” (see picture above).  Albums can be created to show when and where a selected group of pictures were taken.  Videos can either be uploaded or recorded on Facebook (depending on the user’s capabilities) and put on their account under the “videos” tab.  In pictures there is a function called TAGGING where users tag individuals in the picture which is automatically posted on a person’s wall and photo tab.  For example, in a Main Street camp photo there were a number of campers who had Facebook accounts so we tagged every individual and that same picture is in each person’s Facebook account. 

These are some of the basic functions of Facebook and tomorrow we will discuss things like: MESSAGING, NEWS FEED, CHAT, GROUPS, CAUSES AND EVENTS.  Stay tuned.

Facebook 101 (Part 1)

October 11, 2010 — 3 Comments

Whether you are a parent, minister or just a user no doubt you have encountered the multi-billion dollar industry known as Facebook.  Facebook.com advocates that there are over 500 million users who spend an average of 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook.  People meet other people on Facebook, companies network other companies on Facebook, and then there is the personal one-on-one message, chatting, and wall-posting that occurs on individual accounts.  There are groups, advocacies, likes, dislikes, pictures, videos, campaigns, ads and everything you could possibly imagine at your computer or in the palm of your hands with your cell phone.  Facebook has taken over the jargon of our day with unique phrases like: “messaging,” “facebook stalking,” “poke” , “wall” and a host of others.  Parents must be at a loss as their teenagers (and sometimes themselves) spend hours a day on Facebook not knowing what little Johnny our little Susie is posting on their profile.  I am doing a series of posts on Facebook for parents and ministers to help develop a health approach to Facebook and discuss some positives and negatives about this network but also help parents be able to monitor what their children are doing on the internet.

First things first though and that is this: if your child is going to use Facebook you must have their username and password.  It is as simple as that.  They may respond with the following:

  • You are invading my privacy!
  • It is none of your business!
  • You are a creeper!
  • How can I do anything in life if you do not trust me?

This may seem like a harsh thing to do but keep in mind that they are posting things for public viewing.  you are not invading their privacy if everything they do is public knowledge anyways.  You are not reading their diary because that would be something that is secret and not public knowledge but this is something different.  Another thing to keep in mind is that if they are so defensive at your request then they are defensive for a reason…they may be hiding something.  Food for thought.  Trust is not the issue here as it’s not that you do not trust your child but you do not trust the people that are out there.  So here is my plan for the next few posts:

  • Part 2 – The Nuts and Bolts of Facebook 1
  • Part 3 – The Nuts and Bolts of Facebook 2
  • Part 4 – Privacy Settings
  • Part 5 – Using Facebook for Good
  • Part 6 – Getting help for Addiction…Seriously
  • Part 7 – Facebook Etiquette – How to not be that guy or girl

For now…enjoy this song  that will make you smile!