The Christian Calling to Rescue Cultures: Saving Our Kids
- Thursday, July 26, 2012
Editor's Note: This is the third installment in a series of articles about Christians who rescue cultures. The first installment was The Servant; the second, The Courageous Coach. We hope that through this series you will be persuaded of God’s call for you to rescue the cultures you are in, that you will get ideas from the examples of others and that you will be encouraged to take action in rescuing the cultures around you.
James E. Holmes’ murderous rampage last week in Aurora, Colorado shows that intellectual growth and moral growth are not synonymous. Holmes was a highly intelligent student who graduated with an honors degree in neuroscience, won a prestigious grant from the National Institutes of Health and yet went on to methodically plan the events leading up to opening fire on a theater full of adults and children that killed 12 people and wounded 58 others.
What is so astounding about Holmes is that he appeared to be a normal young man who grew up in affluent suburban America. News reports paint a picture of Holmes as academically gifted and shy. That’s not unusual. In recent years, however, there were signs he began to struggle. He was living alone and appeared to have no close confidants. He dropped out of a Ph.D. program, couldn’t find a good job, and established a profile on a website used to find sexual partners. These signs point to a lonely individual who was looking to connect with women, and, lacking success in connecting, was most likely becoming increasingly frustrated. This is a combustible mix. Could something have been done to prevent Holmes from exploding in violence?
To begin, we want to point out that every human being is unique and we will never know for certain what was going on inside Holmes. Furthermore, factors in his life that may have contributed to his mental state do not relieve him from the responsibility of his actions should the court find that he was not criminally insane. That said, there are general observations we can make about the apparent patterns in his life that were unhealthy and unwise. To understand this, we need to view what we know about Holmes from a spiritual perspective and from a mental health perspective (because all truth is God’s truth and research often helps illuminate problems and guide us to find potential solutions).
News reports indicate that Holmes may have spent a considerable amount of time playing video games and seeking female sexual partners online. Research by Norman Nie at Stanford and others has shown that increased time spent online contributes to loneliness. Nie’s research concluded that an hour spent on the Internet reduces face-to-face contact with friends/co-workers/family by 23.5 minutes.
Today’s kids are at an increased risk for loneliness. Two decades ago, the average child under 18 spent about 15-20 hours/week digesting media content whereas today it has nearly tripled to almost 60 hours/week. Kids now devote more time to media than to any activity other than sleep.
Philip Zimbardo, former president of the American Psychological Association, has expressed his concern that adolescent boys’ brains are being physically rewired from excessive time spent online. He states that the average guy watches 10,000 hours of video games by the time he is 21 and the average adolescent male watches 50 porn video clips a week. Zimbardo describes an “arousal addiction” that boys are developing and says the one of the results is that it’s impairing their ability to connect with girls their age. He cites a recent Centers for Disease Control study that stated:
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