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Youth Culture Window

May I?
The Question That Gives You a Glimpse into Their World
An article from Jonathan McKee at

A week ago I was hanging out with some of my friends and I noticed their youngest son sitting by the pool with his iPod on. I went over and struck up a conversation with this young tween, asking him what he was listening to. He answered honestly, "Umbrella" (a fairly catchy Rihanna song that rode Billboard's number one spot for months).

So I asked him the question I ask a lot of kids to get to know them better: "May I?" (asking to see his iPod)

An iPod will tell you plenty. I immediately navigated to his playlists, looking over his 'On-the-Go' lists that he had created for quick listening. I peeked at his 'Recently Played' and 'Top 25 Most Played.' These speak volumes. For this young man, some of the 'Top 25 Most Played' were Akon's Smack That, 50 Cent's Candy Shop, the Shop Boyz single Party Like a Rock Star and Fergie's Big Girls Don't Cry.

I asked him, "Wow, do you own all these?"

He blushed a little and then leaned in close. "Well, my friend has them. I just go to his house and set his iTunes on 'manual' when we sinc it." (Mental note: ask this kid for help when I need assistance tricking out my iPod.)

You can learn a lot about a kid from his or her iPod. In this case, I learned what kind of lyrics this 11 year old was putting in his head daily as well as the source of the music.

But the iPod wouldn't have told me a thing had I not been aware of youth culture today. And one of the best sources to keep you current about today's youth culture is happening in the next few weekends on your TV set.

Three times a year I'll tell you to put the kids to bed, turn on the TV sets and get ready to get a peek into the porthole of youth culture today. One of those times is this Sunday, August 26, on FOX at 8/7c for the 'Teen Choice Awards.'

Let me quickly summarize what Fox's 'Teen Choice Awards' looks like every year: a bunch of adults are allowed to talk and sing about stuff that we wouldn't want our kids to hear... and we televise it.

It's kind of funny to even think about. If you were in the grocery store with your kids and you wandered past an isle where two adults were discussing sex... you probably would do the same thing I would-grab my kids, hang a quick U-turn and head out the door. Yet somehow, millions of parents let their teens and tweens watch or even attend Fox's televised Teen Choice Awards where last year Nelly Furtado and Timbaland sang the song "Promiscuous," spewing lyrics like:

"Wait! I don't mean no harm
I can see you with my t-shirt on

I can see you with nothing on
feeling on me before you bring that on

I think a lot of parents aren't aware of the meaning of lyrics like "let me hit it." (If you don't know, go ahead and look up "hit it" in our slang dictionary.) After all... the song doesn't have any curse words. So if it doesn't have the explicit lyrics logo, it must be clean. Right?

You might want to watch it and judge for yourself.

And two weeks later on September 9th, MTV brings us their annual VMAs (Video Music Awards). Count on MTV to give you a true glimpse into the depravity of what our kids are filling their iPods with each day. Don't take my word for it-watch these upcoming VMA's... after all, most the kids you work with will be watching it too.

I'll be sharing my "2 cents" with you shortly after these two shows like I did last year and the year prior.

So set your VCR's, DVRs and TiVo's to record these shows. Or check out some of my past articles about youth culture and these portholes:

Jonathan McKee Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices, If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, and You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

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