ICE BREAKER ACTIVITY
Introduction – The Brain
The brain is the seat of behavior and personality. Many organizations and companies know this, and for this reason, many seek to control and manipulate our behaviors. We will spend some time learning about the brain and how it can be hijacked by media. This ultimately affects our spending habits, our spiritual, personal and family lives.
The Frontal lobe is the biggest portion of the brain. It is involved in cognitive processes, such as “executive function, attention, memory, and language” also “mood, personality, self-awareness, as well as social and moral reasoning” 
That would include morality, prayer, religion. Scriptures referring to the activity of the ‘frontal lobe’ – Isaiah 1:18 and Galatians 5:23
The Limbic system is made up of a number of structures deep within the midbrain. “The limbic system…[governs] emotions and behavior. The limbic system, and in particular the hippocampus and amygdala, is involved in the formation of long-term memory, and is closely associated with the olfactory structures (having to do with the sense of smell)” [2, 3]
Scriptures referring to the activity of the limbic system – Phil 3:19, Gal 5:17, Romans 8:6-7
The reason we are mentioning these portions of the brain is because they have been purposely targeted by companies and organizations to control how you think, feel and what you purchase. In this study, we will be looking at 2 media types: television and social media.
A television is an “electronic delivery of moving images and sound from a source to a receiver” (Encyclopedia Britannica).
It is a powerful tool of communication. The Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Anan back in 2003 called it “the world’s most powerful medium of communication” 
Television has the power to change minds, change behaviors and control our impulses. As we let television programming do this, it affects our morality, and steals from family and personal devotion time.
By beholding, we become changed.
In the book Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, Jerry Mander (who worked for fifteen years as a public relations and advertising executive) said “During that time, I learned that it is possible to speak through media directly into people’s heads and then, like some otherworldly magician, leave images inside that can cause people to do what they might otherwise never have thought to do.” Mander, pg 14
Edward Bernays (nephew of the Sigmund Freud, American publicist public relations counselor) in his 1928 book Propaganda, he writes, “The American motion picture is the greatest unconscious carrier of propaganda in the world to-day. It is a great distributor for ideas and opinions. The motion picture can standardize the ideas and habits of a nation. Because pictures are made to meet market demands, they reflect, emphasize and even exaggerate broad popular tendencies, rather than stimulate new ideas and opinions. The motion picture avails itself only of ideas and facts which are in vogue or fashionable.” Bernays pg 156 
In “Propaganda” Bernays hypothesized that by understanding the group mind, it would be possible to manipulate people’s behavior without their even realizing it. Using psychological principles from his uncle Freud, he ran 2 campaigns that are still popular today: getting American women to smoke, and popularizing eating bacon and eggs for breakfast. 
Bertrand Russell (the British philosopher, social critic and Nobel laureate) in his book The Scientific Outlook writes “The great majority of young people in almost all civilized countries derive their ideas of love, of honour, of the way to make money, and of the importance of good clothes, from the evenings spent in seeing what Hollywood thinks good for them. I doubt whether all the schools and churches combined have as much influence as the cinema upon the opinions of the young in regard to such intimate matters as love and marriage and money-making. The producers of Hollywood are the high-priests of a new religion.” Russell, pg 200. 
Do you know how much television watching is permitted for children?
The North American daily guidelines for parents are “not more than 1 hour of screen media exposure from ages 2–5 and not more than 2 hours for school age children, assuming that the content is developmentally appropriate”… “Parents are encouraged to keep bedrooms free of screens” — American Academy of Pediatrics. Media and young minds. J. Pediatr. 138, e20162591 (2016),Canadian Paediatric Society, Digital Health Task Force. Screen time and young children: promoting health and development in a digital world. J. Paediatr. Child Health 22, 461–468 (2017), American Academy of Pediatrics. Media use in school-aged children and adolescents. J. Pediatr. 138, e20162592 (2016).
Evidence-Based Research on The Effects of Television
1. Prospective associations between television in the preschool bedroom and later bio-psycho-social risks — Showed children who had a bedroom television at age 4 onward showed a higher body mass index at age 12, more unhealthy eating habits at 13, higher emotional distress, depressive symptoms, victimization and physical aggression and lower levels of sociability at age 12 above and beyond their pre-existing individual and family factors. 
2. Background media use is negatively related to language and literacy skills — Television left on, in the background (with entertainment programming) is detrimental for language and literacy for children ages 3 to 7. The study suggests parents turn off screen-based devices when no one is watching and be mindful of types of content children are watching. 
3. Watching television is associated with childhood obesity: but is it clinically important? — Study confirmed that watching television in childhood is associated with an increase in body mass index (BMI). The associations were stronger and consistently more statistically significant in girls. 
4. Television viewing and cognitive decline in older age: findings from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging — Watching more than 3.5 hours a day (for adults aged 50+) is associated with a cognitive decline in verbal memory over the 6 year span, independent of confounding variables. 
Social media is another mass communication tool that has power for good, but the foundation and overuse of the media has presented the opposite.
Sean Parker (one of the co-founders of Facebook) has said the online service will mess with your mind in serious ways. And he added they have known all along that it would. He also declared that they knew that they were creating something addictive that “exploited a vulnerability in human psychology.”
The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them, … was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?'” “And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever. And that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you … more likes and comments.” “It’s a social-validation feedback loop … — Axios.com
Another former VP from Facebook, Chamath Palihapitiya, while speaking to the Washington Post said:
“It literally is a point now where I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works. That is truly where we are,” he said. “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works: no civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth. And it’s not an American problem. This is not about Russian ads. This is a global problem.”
“Everybody else has to soul-search a little bit more about what you’re willing to do,” he said. “Because your behaviors, you don’t realize it, but you are being programmed. It was unintentional, but now you gotta decide how much you’re willing to give up, how much of your intellectual independence.” —- The Washington Post
The final point he made was how quickly misinformation and hoaxes can spread on social media. It went so far, that in India, a widespread hoax spread through WhatsApp that led to the lynching of several men.
Misinformation and lies led to the actual killing of real men, but we are encouraged to know and seek truth
In John 10:10, Jesus says “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
In another article, “Facebook admits it poses mental health risk” but it also says that using their site more may actually help. 
Evidence-Based Research on The Effects of Social Media
1.Media use and brain development during adolescence — “Adolescents are highly sensitive to acceptance and rejection through social media, and that their heightened emotional sensitivity and protracted development of reflective processing and cognitive control may make them specifically reactive to emotional-arousing media” They also spend about 6-9 hours indulging in social media activities. 
2. Social Screens and Mainstream Segments and Physical Activity — In this study, students were separated into two groups: the Social Screen group and the Mainstream group. The Social Screen group were less likely to engage in physical activity and had more pronounced use of texting, emailing and social media use. This suggests this group may be at a higher risk of inactivity during adulthood 
3. Psychological Impact on Screen Time and Green Time For Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Scoping Review — “While moderate Screen Time can be beneficial for young people in a connected world, it is widely speculated that the concomitant trends of increasing Screen Time and decreasing Green Time (time spent out in nature) among children and adolescents may be social determinants of trends in youth mental health problems” 
The Bible And Our Minds
Here are some Bible texts that help us to guard our minds:
- Romans 1:28-32
- Proverbs 4:32
- Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
While we can use media devices for good and to spread the gospel, we must use responsibly and make sure they are not stealing our time and minds.
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health News Article – Social Media Can Be Positive (In Routine Use)
Psychology Today Article – Your Unhappy Brain on Television
Psychology Today Article – Social Media is Harmful to Your Health and Relationships