Tag 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.

What Parents of Teenagers Need To Know

Disclaimer: This post includes R-rated topics from the often X-rated world of today’s teen culture.

‘Like a kid in a candy store’ seems to apply to how some boys I’ve talked to view the accessibility of girls on their phones. And this increased availability of options… seems to be causing… boys to undervalue the importance of any particular girl, and to treat girls overall with less respect…

…Naked images of…girls (are) equivalent to baseball cards or Pokemon cards…a kind of ‘social currency‘”

“…girls said they didn’t think most girls who posted provactive photos…were trying to elicit sexual encounters…They’re just trying to get more likes…”

I asked them (girls being interviewed) if boys and girls ever went out on dates…They laughed ‘Noooooo…That’s too awkward… Dating now is just to hook up and take selfies…

51A22xo1YHL._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_These snippets off the pages of the most significant book I read this summer: American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers are not nearly as explicit or shocking as much of the research and interviews author Nancy Jo Sales conducted with thousands of teen girls and guys across the country for this book. The vulgar language, real-life descriptions and forthright conversations regarding body image, social media, desire for fame, sexting, pornography, the hook-up culture, and more made the book hard to digest even though most of what I read wasn’t totally new news to me.

For nearly fifteen years I have had a front row seat into the lives of teenagers. Eight of those years were spent ministering to college students alongside my husband in his role as a campus minister. By the time we transitioned into church-planting, we were also shifting into our season of parenting teens, which is where we are still with one in college, one in high school and one in middle school. That is why I’m not easily surprised by what I hear about teenagers – but I am grieved.

Saddened over the reality of:

  • Sixth grade boys already contending with girls’ forward advances.
  • The prevalence of pornography, crass conversations about girls, and vapes in the locker rooms, starting in middle school.
  • Drugs so common even my youngest is aware of users.
  • The exorbitant number of high school girls sending nude/semi nude photos to guys who then share them.
  • The embraced normalcy of promiscuity and the pervasiveness of college students and young professionals using apps like Tinder for easy access to hook-up partners.
  • College girls, passed out at parties, being carried off by guys without anyone stepping in to make sure they don’t become the 1-in-5 rape statistic.

While these issues may have been present when we were teens, the degree and widespread acceptance of what’s happening now is very different. And apart from locking our kids inside, inescapable. Therefore, as parents it is crucial we aren’t naive to what is going on at middle schools, high schools and college campuses everywhere. Our teenagers need us to help them navigate what they are being exposed to. 

We must get our heads out of the sand and we must also not throw our arms up in despair, believing ‘teens will be teens’ and there is nothing we can do. I know talking about these things with our kids feels awkward, but it has to become part of our ongoing conversation.

What I see though as the most important component to preventing our kids from living as the culture is not addressed in the book, since it is written simply from an observation and research perspective. But I believe our talking must extend to giving our kids the biblical lenses to view the culture and themselves in it.

It’s not enough to educate our kids about right and wrong behavior. And laying down the law will only serve to make them more secretive. *What our kids need most is help seeing the idols of their heart – those things they must have at all cost, whether it be attention, affirmation, popularity, beauty, fame, etc. From there they need to understand how their idols drive their behavior (the why behind what they do) in order to deal honestly with their sin*. It takes seeing their sin to know their need for Jesus. And until they know how desperately they need Jesus, the appeal of this culture will always shine brighter. Parenting teens is a tough job, but it is imperative we enter into the muck and the mess of this teenage culture with our teens.

*Note: If you are unsure how to move forward in addressing such things, I would love to hear from you. I am always happy to offer reading recommendations, to speak to groups or consider leading a local Bible study. 

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