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Adolescence Can Be a Funny Thing

Conversations, Youth Trends & Issues, Counsel & Commentary

The cartoonists behind Zits discuss their popular comic strip, the teen years and what parents can do to help the sometimes bitter pill of adolescence go down a little easier.

Advertisers Don’t Follow “The Rule”

Counsel & Commentary

It’s easy to relate to parents who—with one hand over a child’s eyes—are shocked when otherwise decent entertainment is interrupted by crass, exploitative commercials.

Are There Cows in Your Living Room?

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Most modern idols aren't fashioned from gold or carved in stone. So what would Moses say about a culture that practically worships entertainment?

Authentic Relationships in an E-Culture

Youth Trends & Issues, Modern Technology, Counsel & Commentary

A minister to teen girls examines the pros and cons of social networking websites, and wonders if Facebook "friends" really qualify as a true sisterhood.

Avatar's Spiritual Roots

Counsel & Commentary, Media Discernment

James Cameron's blockbuster sci-fi epic has been called an "apologia for pantheism." What should families know about Eywa and the Tree of Souls?

Avoiding a Spiritual Wipeout

Counsel & Commentary

There’s nothing quite like the messy stunts and crazy spills of TV’s most popular obstacle course. But have you ever wondered if there’s one right way to reach the finish line?

AXE, TAG Pander to Rutting Instincts

Media Discernment, Modern Technology, Counsel & Commentary

Sexy advertising images are nothing new. But provocative campaigns for body spray are playing dirty by objectifying women and cheapening God’s gift of sexuality.

Band of Brothers

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Catch Nick, Joe and Kevin live! Tag along with a dad/daughter duo as they experience a Jonas Brothers concert and come face-to-face (briefly) with the boys in the band.

Based on a True Story?

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

It's not uncommon for Hollywood biopics to rewrite history. Learn about several blockbusters that have drawn fire for playing a little too fast and loose with the facts.

The Bible: Inspired, Preserved, Timeless

Counsel & Commentary

What sets the Bible apart from the works of William Shakespeare, John Steinbeck, Jane Austen and J.K. Rowling … and why should anyone trust its accuracy?

The Blasphemy Challenge

Youth Trends & Issues, Counsel & Commentary

What does it mean to blaspheme the Holy Spirit? An apologetics expert weighs in, explaining how atheists are using the Internet to provoke teens into the ultimate act of rebellion.

Breaking the Debt Cycle

Counsel & Commentary, Youth Trends & Issues, Conversations

In a scary economy, financial expert Dave Ramsey explains how we can learn from the recession and help teens slay monstrous cultural habits.

Cast Your Vote for the Good Stuff

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

From the movies we attend to the gifts we buy, our media spending sends a powerful message to the creators of entertainment: "Give us more of the same!"

A Chat with Ben Stein

Youth Trends & Issues, Conversations, Counsel & Commentary

We talk with the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off actor about his clever documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, which puts Darwin on trial and argues for intelligent design.

A Chat With Fisher DeBerry

Conversations, Counsel & Commentary

What does it take to impact young people? A life well lived, as proven by former Air Force football coach Fisher DeBerry, who talked about the need for positive role models.

A Chat With Rebecca Hagelin

Media Discernment, Youth Trends & Issues, Conversations, Counsel & Commentary

A columnist/author’s helpful advice for parents struggling to protect their children against "cultural terrorism" as they set boundaries in an out-of-control, relativistic society.

A Chat With Tim Conway

Media Discernment, Conversations, Counsel & Commentary

From roles on McHale’s Navy and The Carol Burnett Show to his role with the Parents Television Council, this funnyman has plenty of opinions about TV.

Chatters Get More Than They Log On For

Media Discernment, Youth Trends & Issues, Modern Technology, Counsel & Commentary

Learn why, despite websites’ best attempts to protect children in chat rooms, online dialogues can rob children's innocence and introduce them to predators.

Choosing Their Religion

Youth Trends & Issues, Modern Technology, Counsel & Commentary

Rather than rejecting spiritual truth outright, many young people are naively trying to tailor those absolutes to accommodate individualistic, consumer-oriented, iPod lifestyles.

A Closer Look at Christian Music

Counsel & Commentary

In late 1996, three CCM veterans talked with us about their art and their industry, addressing many issues that are still up for debate 15 years later.

A Closer Look at Hinduism

Counsel & Commentary, Youth Trends & Issues

Despite Hinduism's idolatry, belief in multiple gods and self-deification, your teen's Christian faith may resemble this Eastern religion more than you realize.

A Closer Look at Satan … From a Safe Distance

Counsel & Commentary, Youth Trends & Issues

Children's natural curiosity about the devil is often fueled by pop culture's own dark fascinations, making it critical to have a biblical understanding of our adversary.

A Conversation With Brent Bozell

Media Discernment, Conversations, Counsel & Commentary

The founder of the Parents Television Council talks about a la carte cable, TV’s evolution in the Internet age, and how families can hold the industry accountable.

Crucifying a Lustful Thought Life

Media Discernment, Youth Trends & Issues, Counsel & Commentary

Back on track with a renewed passion for purity, Dove Award-winning artist Clay Crosse explains how sensual entertainment shaped him at a young age.

Defenders of Truth Always Look a Little Different

Counsel & Commentary, Media Discernment

From comic books to the big screen, defenders of truth have always looked a little different. So why are old-school superheroes still so popular in our postmodern age?

The Divisive World of Pop Music

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary, Youth Trends & Issues

Understanding children’s ties to their favorite music can help parents build bridges rather than walls, leading to better communication and stronger families.

Doctoring Teens’ Brokenness

Counsel & Commentary

Is "comfort" overrated in the healing process? Now you can avoid a key mistake that even the most caring parents often make when an adolescent is hurting inside.

Drag Me to Heaven

Counsel & Commentary

People often ask how a loving God could send people to hell. Another question might be, "Why would a holy, just God go so far to save us from it?"

Emphasis on “Felt Needs” Hurts Teens

Youth Trends & Issues, Counsel & Commentary

Actor Kirk Cameron shares his concern that youth groups are becoming cool, cozy hangouts rather than a place of spiritual transformation where iron sharpens iron.

Encouraging the Uncool

Counsel & Commentary, Youth Trends & Issues

Based upon his self-deprecating ode to awkwardness "I’m Not Cool," Christian singer/songwriter Scott Krippayne offers hope to parents of disenfranchised adolescents.

Energy Drinks: Chasing the Best Boost

Youth Trends & Issues, Counsel & Commentary

As daily deadlines and life’s pressures mount, many teens are turning to canned, hyper-caffeinated pick-me-ups without understanding the health risks.

Enough is Enough

Counsel & Commentary

Women have been speaking out against musical misogyny. They¹ve heard the music. They've seen the videos. And they want it to stop.

Faith and Film Converge at Sundance

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Among the film buffs flocking to Park City, Utah, are Christians hoping to build a bridge between independent cinema and the greatest story ever told.

Falling Stars

Youth Trends & Issues, Counsel & Commentary

It’s the rare tween icon who doesn’t do something shocking in order to shed the "child star" label. So what can parents do when their children’s favorite role model stumbles?

Family Worship? Sweet!

Conversations, Counsel & Commentary

Through his live Taste Worship events, Christian singer and songwriter Peder Eide is changing the way families connect with God … and each other.

A Father’s Greatest Treasure

Counsel & Commentary

For every diaper-changing dad who's ever wished he could trade places with a famous entertainer, just wait until you see how these celebrities described their "role of a lifetime."

Forgiving When It Hurts

Counsel & Commentary, Youth Trends & Issues

American Idol judge Simon Cowell spent years humiliating contestants on prime-time TV. Find out what happened when one of them took the hit and fired back … with grace.

Getting Teens Ready for Summer

Counsel & Commentary, Youth Trends & Issues

From jobs and friends to dating and time management, our counselors answer parents' burning questions about helping teenagers make the most of summer vacation.

Give the Gift of Wisdom

Counsel & Commentary

Imagine being told that you could have only one gift this Christmas. One present to open. One package to rattle. Just one. Now here's the fun part: It can be anything your heart desires! What would it be?

God of the Fairy Tale

Conversations, Counsel & Commentary

Author Jim Ware examines the power of myths, revealing spiritual truths hidden within classic fairy tales that point back to the true story of the Gospel.

The Guitar Hero Craze

Youth Trends & Issues, Modern Technology, Counsel & Commentary

Kids don’t need music lessons to rock like a pro, but what are parents supposed to think about popular rhythm video games such as Rock Band and Guitar Hero?

Hollywood in Da Vinci Mode

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

You’ve heard about the controversy. Now find out how Dan Brown’s best-selling novel—and the box-office hit it inspired—are changing how people think of the Savior.

Horror Trend Absolute Torture

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

After growing up with slasher films, cynical audiences desensitized to gory violence have discovered a new cinematic obsession that’s just plain scary.

How Do We Know God Exists?

Counsel & Commentary

Does God exist? Atheists say no. Agnostics aren’t so sure. But the gospel truth is out there … and it’s clearer than most people realize.

I Can Quit Anytime I Want To

Modern Technology, Counsel & Commentary

A video game junkie confesses to a lifelong addiction that has led to his current obsession with … computer Scrabble? Apparently, even innocent games can leave us hooked.

The Inconvenient Truth About Documentaries

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

By definition, a documentary should be fair, reasonable, dispassionate. Learn how filmmakers’ biases and hidden agendas can twist facts and mislead viewers.

Interacting With Hollywood

Media Discernment, Modern Technology, Counsel & Commentary

Thanks to fansites and blogs, buzz-hungry studios can anticipate audience reaction and make changes while a movie is still in production. But should fans be getting the final cut?

Is Average the New Ugly?

Media Discernment, Youth Trends & Issues, Counsel & Commentary

Learn how entertainment is shaping how young people perceive their value and attractiveness, as well as how parents can counter messages from our image-obsessed culture.

Is the MPAA Just Blowing Smoke?

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

The people who rate movies say they’ll be taking tobacco use more seriously. So why are they so soft on the rising levels of cinematic violence?

Is Your Teen Keeping Strange Company?

Media Discernment, Youth Trends & Issues, Counsel & Commentary

Young Christians may not realize it, but who they hang out with speaks volumes about their values. That includes the companions they choose in the form of entertainment.

It’s What’s Inside That Counts

Counsel & Commentary

A time-honored truth. So why does our culture strive to convince young people that having a certain look or chugging the right energy drink trumps inner beauty?

Keep Cults From Recruiting Your Kids

Counsel & Commentary, Youth Trends & Issues

A father who lost his son to a Bible-based cult warns parents of the dangers, offers helpful advice, and even exposes some of the tactics cultists use to recruit teens.

Let’s Build Bridges, Not Walls, Between Generations

Youth Trends & Issues, Counsel & Commentary

One of Christian music’s most poetic songwriters worries that natural obstacles and media stereotypes are causing a rift between teens and their elders.

Life Lessons From Middle-earth

Conversations, Counsel & Commentary

We asked the Lord of the Rings cast, "While working on these films, did you learn a life lesson that would be valuable for teenagers today?" Here's what they said...

Like Father, Like Son

Conversations, Counsel & Commentary, Media Discernment, Youth Trends & Issues

We sit down with apologetics experts Josh and Sean McDowell to discuss parenting, the power of media and a particular movie that changed their relationship.

Looking for Answers in the Stars

Counsel & Commentary

Who were those gift-bearing magi we sing about at Christmastime, and how was their stargazing any different from astrologers’ study of celestial bodies today?

The Many “Carols” of Charles Dickens

Counsel & Commentary

No yuletide tale has been remade more often than A Christmas Carol, and it seems every decade or so, Hollywood gives Dickens’ timeless story a unique twist.

The Most Reliable Filtering Device Is Still a Parent

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary, Modern Technology

With video games evolving and migrating online, it’s even more critical that moms and dads keep track of what the kids are playing … and where.

Mr. Monk and the Resurrection

Counsel & Commentary

Did Jesus really rise from the dead? Short of a savant-like explanation by an obsessive-compulsive homicide detective, how confident can we be about what actually happened?

The New Narcissism

Counsel & Commentary, Youth Trends & Issues

Find out how our culture and our children have become increasingly self-absorbed, and what parents can do to solve this spiritual problem.

On Parenting and Pinball

Counsel & Commentary

Control is overrated. The frantic echo of bells, bumpers and flippers reminds us that despite a parent's best efforts, it's up to our children to make good choices.

One Link in a Chain of Brutality

Counsel & Commentary

It appalled most Americans that quarterback Michael Vick engaged in brutal dogfighting. But to one observer, the greater shock is our culture's selective outrage over violence.

Opportunity in the Eye of the Storm

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Trying to change bad media habits? While it’s preferable to train a child in the way he should go, a new window of opportunity could arrive in the midst of present conflict.

Our Favorite Christmas Albums

Counsel & Commentary, Conversations

With so many seasonal CDs vying for our attention—and new ones flooding the market every year—which holiday discs do Plugged In's editors never get tired of?

Peace, Happiness and a Nifty Helmet Cam

Modern Technology, Counsel & Commentary

With high-tech gadget gifts all the rage at Christmas, the owner of a brand-new video recorder straps it on and ponders its broader implications.

PI20 Reflections: Movies

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

VHS or Betamax? This third installment in our 20th anniversary series examines technological advances that have revolutionized how we've brought cinema home.

PI20 Reflections: Social Media

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Our final 20th anniversary feature (part 5 of 5) recalls a time before e-mail, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. How have we and our "friends" changed over the past two decades?

PI20 Reflections: Video Games

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

From joysticks to Wii controllers, this fourth of five 20th anniversary articles deals exclusively with the games people played during the Plugged In era, some of which we liked!

PI20 Reflections: Music

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Part two of our five-part 20th anniversary series considers sonic trends that have come and gone since 1990 … as well as truths about teens and music that never change.

PI20 Reflections: Television

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

The first article in our five-part 20th anniversary series looks back at the changing face of prime-time TV during the Plugged In era. Now that's an extreme makeover!

The Politics of Entertainment

Counsel & Commentary, Media Discernment, Youth Trends & Issues

Late-night monologues and sketch comedy can pique teens’ interest in the political process. So how can parents help their children see that voting is no laughing matter?

Preparing for the Knock at the Door

Counsel & Commentary

Apologetics 101: What does the Watchtower Society believe, and how should Christians respond when Jehovah's Witnesses appear on their doorstep?

Preparing Teens for Life's Second-Biggest Decision

Counsel & Commentary, Youth Trends & Issues

In a society (and entertainment culture) often dismissive of lifelong commitment, how can we help adolescents value marriage as much as God does?

Prescription Drug Abuse

Media Discernment, Youth Trends & Issues, Counsel & Commentary

The tragic death of actor Heath Ledger raises critical questions about teens’ (not to mention Hollywood’s) casual attitude toward prescription drug abuse.

Purity: Looking for Moral Loopholes

Youth Trends & Issues, Counsel & Commentary

How does your teen define abstinence? Discover how Christian young people committed to delaying intercourse until marriage are still giving in to sexual pressure.

A Question of Ethics

Youth Trends & Issues, Counsel & Commentary

A rise in cheating—onscreen and off—signals that this generation is experiencing a significant ethical crisis. Can your motives pass our series of tests?

Raising Savvy, Secure Consumers

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Dissecting commercials during the Super Bowl is one thing. But doing it with children throughout the year will help them develop lifelong skills for processing sales pitches.

Reaching Out to Muslims

Counsel & Commentary

In our post-9/11 society, it's easy to dismiss Islam and its followers with a mixture of fear and contempt. But as A.J.'s story proves, some Muslims just need to hear the truth.

Reality TV’s Dirty Little Secrets

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Networks want the audience to think that their unscripted shows are raw, real and unfiltered. Here’s an inside look at how unreal reality TV often is.

Redirecting Cupid’s Arrow

Counsel & Commentary

Do your children have a hard time loving the way Jesus loves? See how one little boy's unselfish love can give Valentine's Day new meaning.

Remembering Why We Give Thanks

Counsel & Commentary

Turkey. Football. A Charlie Brown special. Sadly that’s all Thanksgiving means to some families, which is why it never hurts to revisit America’s rich spiritual heritage.

Roses Among Thorns

Media Discernment, Conversations, Counsel & Commentary

Mom and former record executive Darlene Brock talks about the media, challenges facing girls today, and what it means to raise daughters with grit and grace.

Setting a Family Standard for Entertainment

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Discover practical ways to help your children become more sensitive to the power of media and embrace biblically based standards for the entertainment they consume.

Six Keys to a Healthy Entertainment Diet

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Insights from an Olympic nutritionist can help families bring home the gold as they try to establish reasonable, godly standards for consuming entertainment.

Some Films Are Unsafe at Any Altitude

Modern Technology, Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

In the air, you're a captive audience. So what's a parent to do when your family has a turbulent encounter due to the airline's lack of media discernment?

Speak No Evil vs. The First Amendment

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

It’s hardly fair, but when it comes to freedom of speech, some public figures pay a steep price for irresponsible comments while musicians get away with murder.

Stallone’s Shot at Redemption

Conversations, Counsel & Commentary

As Rocky and Rambo, screen actor Sylvester Stallone adrenalized the 1980s. Here, he alludes to his religious faith while describing his cinematic comeback, Rocky Balboa.

The Stress-Free Way to Seek God's Will

Counsel & Commentary

Christian teens want to follow Jesus. They know God's plan is best. But with so many voices vying for their attention, how can we help them relax as they listen for God's?

Take Me Out to the Movies

Counsel & Commentary, Media Discernment

See which diamond gems one Plugged In editor recommends to people who can't decide which smells better, movie theater popcorn or a freshly oiled fielder's glove.

Teens Are Buying Now, Paying Later

Youth Trends & Issues, Counsel & Commentary

Discover how credit cards nearly ruined a college student's life, and why she desperately wants your children to learn from her mistakes.

Teens Choose to Avoid the Media Mud

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Some of the most encouraging letters we’ve received over the years have come from Christian teenagers challenging the notion that popular culture has all the answers.

They Can't Handle the Truth

Counsel & Commentary

Discover how the most famous trial in human history has caused problems for more than a few "good" men in our relativistic culture.

Unmasking the Bat and the Cat

Counsel & Commentary

Discover some of the moral and spiritual lessons we can glean from the love-hate relationship shared by two emotionally conflicted comic book figures.

Unmasking the White Witch

Youth Trends & Issues, Counsel & Commentary

A young woman who dabbled in the occult explains how Jesus pulled her out of darkness and inspired her to teach young people to recognize evil in entertainment.

Video Gambling Is a Bad Bet

Youth Trends & Issues, Modern Technology, Counsel & Commentary

With online gambling just a mouse click away, dealers and slot machines are as close as the nearest computer. And it’s even more addictive than casino gaming.

War of the Worldviews

Counsel & Commentary

We shed some light on Scientology and Kabbalah, two celebrity-friendly religions soliciting new recruits from entertainment's bully pulpit.

What Hath Broadband Wrought?

Media Discernment, Modern Technology, Counsel & Commentary

Increased bandwidth means more video content streaming onto our computers. What new challenges is this technological boon creating for parents?

What I Learned From Cassie Bernall

Youth Trends & Issues, Counsel & Commentary

Youth pastor Dave McPherson remembers the courageous teen he lost during the Columbine tragedy … and how it changed his approach to ministry.

What Is a Worldview?

Counsel & Commentary

We hear the term all the time, but what exactly does it mean? And why is it so important for children to develop a biblical worldview in today's culture?

What Is Christian Apologetics?

Counsel & Commentary

More than a trendy term, it's the key to teens explaining and defending their faith with love, logic and sound reasoning. Welcome to Apologetics 101.

What Should We Do With Halloween?

Counsel & Commentary

Author and evangelist Steve Russo examines the spooky holiday’s origins, how it has evolved over the years, and reasonable ways for Christian families to handle Oct. 31.

What We Thought Then, What We Know Now

Modern Technology, Counsel & Commentary, Media Discernment

In 1971, LIFE magazine looked back at television’s first 25 years. What did its writers say, and how do those reflections and predictions look 40 years later?

What’s Behind Bahá'í

Counsel & Commentary

Learn the facts about a trendy, growing Islamic belief system reaching out to teens, and discover which Midwestern city has become its base of operations.

What’s Wrong With Homosexuality?

Counsel & Commentary, Youth Trends & Issues

What's Wrong With Homosexuality? ­ With the entertainment industry treating same-sex attraction as a civil rights issue, why should our children see it any differently in the age of tolerance?

When Bullying Hits Home

Youth Trends & Issues, Counsel & Commentary

Discovering that a bully is targeting your child can create painful, helpless feelings. Learn how to help young victims weather the storm, and maybe even turn the tide.

When Kids Stray Out of Bounds

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Our children can frustrate us by crossing a line and paying a price. (But at least you’ve never gotten an unexpected wake-up call from the Ukranian coast guard.)

When Other Families Lack Discernment

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Even if you and your children choose media wisely, friends and neighbors may not be as careful. What should we do when the lax standards of others hit home?

When You Can’t Tune It Out, Try Teaching

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Somewhere between the pepperoni and mushrooms, one family’s visit to a local pizza parlor turns into an impromptu lesson about lousy lyrics.

Which Role Will You Be Remembered For?

Counsel & Commentary

You play multiple parts every day. But if you had to choose one role to define you, which would it be … and how can you ensure that others will remember you that way?

Who Does Your Teen Wannabe?

Conversations, Counsel & Commentary, Media Discernment, Youth Trends & Issues

This generation faces an identity crisis. Discover how Royal Tailor's music—and lead singer—square off against a culture that wants our kids to settle for less than God's best.

Who Rates the Movies ... and How?

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Much like learning what’s in a hot dog, this brief history of Hollywood’s rating system will inspire parents to think twice before trusting their children to the MPAA.

Why Intelligent Design Makes Sense

Counsel & Commentary

As scientists learn more about the building blocks of life, parents have even more evidence to help children see Darwinian evolution as the “faith” it really is.

Why Jesus Came

Counsel & Commentary

Give Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke credit: In addition to capturing the eternal struggle between vampires and werewolves, she understands the true meaning of Christmas.

Why Kids Beg … and What You Can Do About It

Counsel & Commentary, Youth Trends & Issues

Our materialistic culture sows seeds of discontent in children, blurring the line between "wants" and "needs." Tired of greedy pestering? Here's how to make it stop.

Why Television Will Never Be the Same

Media Discernment, Modern Technology, Counsel & Commentary

Heralded as a socially responsible development sure to assist and inform families, the V-Chip was high-tech Trojan Horse destined to coarsen TV. Here’s why…

Why We Celebrate Life

Counsel & Commentary, Youth Trends & Issues

With their entertainment culture quick to celebrate death—from horror films and dark music to gory point-and-shoot video games—children need to know why life is precious.

Why We Love Superheroes

Counsel & Commentary

If these comic book champions seem oddly familiar, it may be because we've met them before … in the Bible. Find out why we're naturally inclined to embrace them.

World of Warcraft: One Family’s Battle

Media Discernment, Modern Technology, Counsel & Commentary

A concerned mother recalls how her son’s video game habits paved the way for a life-altering addiction to the multiplayer online challenge World of Warcraft.