Category Archives: Social Media

Why a Homeschool Podcast interviewed a Public School Mom

About a month ago I had the privilege of being the guest on an unexpected podcast. Unexpected because it was the Homeschooling In Real Life podcast and I am not a homeschooling mom. But hosts Kendra & Fletch understand that homeschool (and Christian private school kids) are not insulated from struggles and sin which is why they wanted to bring me on to discuss the research behind my new book Face Time.

As I learned through the responses to my teen survey, teens of all types of school environments, geographic locations and churched and non-churched backgrounds face similar insecurities and temptations. This is because no amount of sheltering can protect our teens from the sin in their own hearts. As I often quote, “There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him (Mark 7:15).” In otherwords, it is what is inside that ultimately causes us to sin.

Does this mean we don’t work to keep our kids from evil? By no means! But as I’ve recently written in my parenting posts, if we don’t deal honestly with the false sources our kids turn to looking for identity and worth, we are glossing over the real problems of the heart.  Additionally, if we think a safe-guarded environment will keep the “bad” out, we are living with our heads in the sand. So we must not be naive and work diligently to get to our kids’ hearts no matter what their environment.

So regardless of your schooling choice, I invite you to listen in to the discussion on this podcast. I think you will then want to take note thast the “big surprise” Kendra and Fletch mention in our episode has now been revealed as the end of their podcast because of something new to come. Knowing they speak my same language of grace and growth in the gospel I know I will be interested in whatever comes next. You can follow Kendra on Facebook and be sure to check out her book Lost & Found.

http://www.homeschoolingirl.com/episodes/episode-152-facetime-kristen-hatton

Free homeschool podcast about Facetime a new book by Kristen Hatton about girls and identity.

 

 

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ABC’s 20/20 “Digital Addiction” Review

Who are we without our cell phones?  I know I’m as guilty of cell phone addiction as my teenagers at times! Like for many, my phone is my calendar, to do list, reminder, notes, contacts, music, photos and a plethora of other apps, including of course social media. And while it is convenient, I admit, my phone often distracts me from fully-focused face time interaction!

In addition to cell phones and social media, an abundance of other electronics – in particular obsessive gaming among adult men – are contributing to our disconnected, disengaged selfie-society. To this end,  ABC’s 20/20 aired a “Digitial Addiction” special highlighting the seriousness of technology’s effect on individuals and families.  Reporter Elizabeth Vargas followed three families’ intervention stories with their family member so addicted to a device it was destroying their daily lives. Through interviews and video diaries, we the viewers were given the behind the scenes look at the individuals’ obsessive behaviors.

Considering my own research on technology use among teens, I’m rarely surprised by statistics on the topic. However, I was quite surprised by the dad so addicted to his video games that he had checked out from his family.  It actually gave me a scary glimpse of possible future realities for a generation of kids whose day-long and into the night playing is something we passively accept. For this dad, it was his unwinding time; his de-stressor. Well, that’s fine in its proper place, but he was leaving his wife to solely tend to their four young children all evening, every evening before she retreated off to bed alone.

In another family the teenage son’s gaming addiction kept him holed up in his room. He got angry and was disrespectful to his parents whenever they asked him to get off.  This in itself signaled another alarming trend with detrimental future consequences, and that is: entitlement. The 20/20 special didn’t hit on entitlement, but in not telling our kids “no” or laying down/enforcing rules we have allowed them to take the reigns of control that leads to a path of being controlled by their idols. (As I’ve fequently written, when anything is elevated to a place in our lives that rules or controls us, it is an idol.)

The third featured family was dealing with a teenage daughter’s phone addiction that included sexting strangers.  While sending inappropriate pictures is happening waaaay more frequently than most of us realize, the constant checking her phone, fear of missing out, staying on her phone well into the night and anxiety without her phone that could describe amost any teenager today. So it struck me  that what was dubbed as “extreme”  behavior has actually been accepted as normal.

None of these individuals realized (or cared) how self-centered and disconnected from their families they had become. So to help them re-engage relationally and sever dependence, a device detox was ordered. Many times this is absolutely necessary. My own daughter at times has deleted her social media. And quite frankly I think it’s needed for more parents to enforce limitations and restrictions on devices for their good and the good of the family.

But at the same time for true heart change, we must address the root behind the ruling idols and addictions. On the surface a cell phone or play station (money or material possessions) may appear to be the problem, but eliminating it from our lives doesn’t change the underneath desires that point to what really rules a heart.

To get there we need to ask probing questions. For instance…

  • Why did the girl have to have her  phone? Because of her fear of missing out and not wanting to feel disconnected.
  • Why was she so afraid of missing out? Perhaps it was a fear of looking bad, experiencing rejection, or not getting the attention she craved.
  • Could it be the reason she wanted attention – to make a name for herself – was in order to feel her worth? What she needed was to hear who Jesus is for her. In him she is perfectly accepted, valued and loved.

For the two consumed with the video games, one sought to escape from life, not wanting to deal with the chaos and responsibility of his household; basically an unwillingness to die to himself. He was looking for “life” in his own pleasure. For the other, he turned to his games as an escape to a virtual world, perhaps out of fear of engaging in real world relationships, or being known.

So we can take away social media or a game console (again, at times necessary), but whatever it is at the core will likely resurface in a new or more extreme way later if we don’t deal with the heart – whatever the ruling desires driving the behavior.  Otherwise, we will only be putting bandaids on the real issues.

Uncovering the sin beneath the sin is not easy, but it is good.  It takes seeing our sin as the idolatry it is in order to see our deep need of the One who rescues us from slavery and sets us free. Only living dependent on him (and nothing else) will we find the true life we seek.

Face Time: Your Identity in a Selfie World comes out Monday! To receive it next week, click: here. Link to 20/20 Digital Addiction special here.

Attention, Please!

Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” Ann Voskamp

As with every time I read Ann Voskamp, many of the lines in her new book, The Broken Way, have fueled my thoughts. Certain sentences, I have read and reread, and then still continue to ponder- such as with the line above.

If our time is a gift more valuable than a monetary object than it makes sense that the giving of our attention would be the most virtuous form of generosity. Considering how frequently our attention is caught up in Self, it is not surprising though the giving of it is rare.

When Self is all we see, we miss being the gift of attention to another.

I’ve noticed this in myself, and see it all around me, which is why this particular line jumped out at me.  I mean, how can I generously, and genuinely, give attention to my son if my to-do list is taking precedence (even in my mind and not functionally) over whatever he is saying to me?

We certainly can’t give attention generously when we are consumed in our phones or tuned into our headsets? And what does that communicate to those in our midst?

Recently I listened to a video: On Millenials in the Workplace that  mentioned when young professionals today enter a conference room for a meeting they sit silently, each on their own phones, until the meeting begins. When the meeting adjourns they instinctually grab for their phones and depart. What’s missing in this type of culture is connection, interaction, attention to their co-workers. When this is the case they never hear from the women in the next cubicle about her sick parent she is caring for, or even learn what makes the guy down the hall tick. In this isolating, individualistic (self-centered) environment, attention is rare.

The precursor to what’s happening in the workplace is happening at our kids’ school lunch table, in carpools and even at social gatherings. As parents we need to help them see that their phone addiction is a self-obsession and also detremental to building right relationships.

But we too are guilty! Not just with our phones, self-living and the lack of attention to others surface in too many ways to count. We need to be willing, though, to see our selfishness for the sin that is. For starters…

  • Do we devote ourselves to jobs, hobbies, charitable work, Bible studies even, to a level that makes our spouse or kids feel like they lack our attention? If so, are we willing to sacrifice self for their good?
  • Do we care so much about what our house looks like that we fail to show hospitality? Or, are we too consumed with our own life to even think to extend an invitation to another?
  • Are we so preoccupied over how we look that when we are with others we don’t give them our full attention because we are too busy comparing ourselves?
  • Are we so into our own worlds that when we are with others we dominate the conversation with our stuff without ever entering in to their lives?
  • Are we so self-focused we don’t see the needs around us: the newcomer longing for a friend, the struggling neighbor, the depressed co-worker, or the exhausted young mom?

We aren’t present for the people in our presence – in our homes, workplace, churches, schools and other communities – when we are consumed with self.

The cure for our selfish, sinful hearts is to fix our eyes on another – the One who experienced his own Father’s back (attention withdrawn) at the cross so we could always know the love, attention and mercy of the Father. Jesus gave up heaven to come down to a world set on self in order to free us from the bondage of Self.

Seeing who Jesus is for us – full of grace and mercy for self-centered people – should move us to be people full of grace and mercy. People who know their need of compassion have compassion for others.

So this Christmas as we spend time with others may we be fully present.  May we generously give the gift of attention for the good of others and to the glory of God. And may a self-giving lifestyle be what characterizes us into the New Year, as we set resolutions more focused on selflessness than self-seeking.

In the same way, the Son of Man did not come for other people to serve him. But the Son of Man came to serve other people. The Son of Man came to give his life to save many people.” Mark 10:45

A few past blog posts regarding teens & technology and identity issues you may find helpful:

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