Resources for Parents on Social Media, Apps & Phones

photo credit: Iker Merodio | Photography Shadows in a Sunny Day via photopin (license)

Conversations about phone use and social media are happening all over the place. I saw a piece on the news about how Saturday Night Live cast member Pete Davidson has been a victim of online bullying. He was engaged to Ariana Grande and their break up kept them in the spotlight. On top of that he recently apologized for a sketch on SNL that brought a lot of criticism.

In the NBC news piece, Davidson spoke about the messages and comments he has received, the dangers of social media and how he has deleted photos from his Instagram in response to all of it.

While social media and the connection we have through our devices has many positive aspects, there are some pretty dark and disturbing things as well. How do parents help their students navigate this ever changing world? There are some good resources available that can equip parents to keep the conversation going.

In a recent post on the Growing Leaders blog, Tim Elmore offers some suggestions as to why parents should reduce social media use. He points to the constant pings and notifications that come with many social media apps. Those continual notifications can be distractions and even create a sense of needing to respond immediately to what we receive. It could even lead to a level of addiction. Elmore’s insights are worth considering if your student is constantly tied to his/her device. Read the whole article here : One Great Reason to Reduce Social Media Use

In a more recent blog post (published Dec. 4) Elmore shares about five apps that are potentially dangerous for teens. He lists these five ::

  1. Yubo
  2. Calculator%
  3. Marco Polo
  4. Wishbone
  5. Whisper

He describes what each app does and how it could be unhealthy for our students.

More than just those specific apps, I think this article underscores the responsibility parents should have to know what is on the phones of our students.  As Elmore says at one point this post, “an adolescent brain can quickly spot the potential benefits of this app, but they do no see the likely consequences.”  We need to help our students think through the consequences of choices they make (both good and bad) and we can’t really do that if we don’t know what they are doing.

Want to talk to your student about cell phone use and even come to agreement on it?

Parent Ministry offers various resources including an article called Top 10 Ways to Tame the Cell Phone Beast. In it they offer suggestions about where teens charge their phones at night, texting and driving and even using a cell phone contract.

You can download the Top 10 Ways on the website and they even offer a free Cell Phone Contract. You can use the contract as it is or use it as a discussion point with your student to talk about devices, social media and so much more.

While there are many good resources out there, these are just a few to help parents have the conversations about these important topics.

#WorldAdoptionDay @daytonmomsblog

It’s hard to believe how much has changed since this picture was taken. Max is now 5 and is in his second year of preschool. Eli wasn’t even a blip on our radar, yet we can’t imagine our family without him. Adoption has changed so many people and so many families and we are excited to once again celebrate it through World Adoption Day.

World Adoption Day is a world-wide celebration of adoption. It is designed to celebrate family and to raise awareness for adoption.

The concept is so simple and so beautiful. Grab a sharpie, draw a smiley face on your hand and then post it on World Adoption Day, Nov. 9.

My wife has written an article on Dayton Moms Blog sharing more about the day. Go check it out and be involved!

How has adoption changed you? We’d love to hear your stories.

Come be a part of World Adoption Day.

Have You Heard about Offline October

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So, have you heard about Offline October? Today was the first I heard about it.

Knowing that teens spend an average of 9 hours a day on their phones, they check their phones 157 times a day, send out more than 208 Snapchats, spend nearly an hour on Instagram, a movement has started to unplug. I don’t know much about the movement other than hearing the news story and visiting the website, but it seems like a good idea.

According to the website, after a number of teen suicides in the Littleton, Colorado community, a group of 25 students got together to come up with a solution to state that enough was enough. The challenge is meant for people to realize the importance of human relationships and the happiness that can come from direct human interaction. The goal of the movement is this: Don’t Post A Story, Live One.

If you are a parent this would be a good conversation to have with your student. What would it be like to go offline for the month of October, or even a week in October, or even 24 hours? Perhaps you could ask your student what kind of influence social media has had on their peers or even him/her. It’s an interesting challenge to consider and talk about.

There are resources and ideas for taking the challenge on the Offline October website.

Below is one of their promo videos.

Interesting Info on Gen Z

photo credit: AdamCohn Sharing a Mobile Phone via photopin (license)

This week I’ve read a few interesting things about Gen Z.

Generation Z is made up of those who were born 1999 to 2015; they are today’s preteens and teenagers.

A lot has been written about Millenials (born 1984 to 1998) as they are the largest generation in the US workforce (35% of today’s labor force).

There were two different sources for the information and they give two different snapshots of this generation.  The first is a podcast by Pro Church Tools, which focused on how Gen Z interacts with through social media.  The second source is the Barna Group, which has done some research on the beliefs of Gen Z.

Pro Church Tools talked about how Gen Z uses social media differently than previous generations.  The main distinction they made was that  Gen Z uses social media for one to one interactionswhere previous generations use social media for one to many interactions.

So, where previous generations will post something to Facebook for everyone to see (and to generate more friends), Gen Z will use Messaging Apps, including Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Instagram DMs, along with others.

After I heard the podcast, I sent a message to over a dozen of the high school students in our student ministry.  I asked which Messaging App they used most frequently.  In the quick survey I took, Snapchat seemed to be the most used, along with Instagram and texting.  How Gen Z communicates is a little different from other generations and it is helpful to know if we want to communicate effectively.

The Barna Group study focused on what Gen Z believes.  While there were a number of stats shared, these two were highlighted:

  • 24% of Gen Z strongly agrees that what is morally right and wrong changes over time based on society
  • 21% of Gen Z strongly believes sex before marriage is wrong – though they are mostly on par with other generations, with Gen X being the most conservative (26%)

While there is much more in the Barna study, I think those stats give an interesting look into Gen Z.  The fact that nearly one-quarter of the generation thinks that what is right and wrong changes based on society should create some interesting conversations.  If right and wrong is a sliding scale, it could have some pretty unique implications.

While I think we need to be careful not to stereotype people based on their age and not everyone who was born in a certain generation reflects those characteristics, it is good to have a sense of where our students are.

Barna does note that they only included teens 13 to 18 in their study.

Click on the links above to read all the information that Pro Church Tools and Barna provide.  If you work with students or are a parent of Gen Z, it is helpful information to have.

Teens Talk Social Media – Part 2

Last week I posted some information about a recent Common Sense Media report where teens shared how much time they spend on social media and their phones.  A few days ago, the TODAY show did a special series sharing the same information.

TODAY interviewed a family with three teenagers and talked to them about their social media habits.  They also talked to the mother and got her thoughts on how she managed her children’s time on their devices.

The students featured were then challenged to go 48 hours without their smartphones and without using social media.  They took the challenge and then share about their experiences.  They used words like “disconnected” and “distractions,” but also seemed grateful for time away from the devices.

The news piece is just over five minutes long and is pretty interesting in light of the Common Sense Media study.  You can watch it on the TODAY Show site.

Teens Talk Social Media

Common Sense Media just released a report on teens and how they use social media. They asked more than 1,100 teenagers (13- to 17-year-olds) to find out their thoughts and how they use social media. Here are a few highlights:

  • 89% of teens have a smartphone
  • Snapchat is their main social media site
  • 57% of all teens agree that social media distracts them when they should be doing homework
  • 29% of teen smartphone owners say they have been woken up by their phones during the night
  • 70% teens use social media multiple times a day (up from 34% in 2012)

There is more interesting information about how teens not only use social media, but some of their perceptions as well.  For example, 72% of teens think technology companies manipulate users to spend more time on their devices.  And, many admit that social media can be a distraction.

Common Sense Media also has a link for parents with some thoughts and suggestions on addressing the social media issue.  Some pretty common sense stuff that many parents are already utilizing, but helpful nonetheless.

There is no doubt that smartphones, technology and social media have impacted our culture and how we communicate.  This article provides some good talking points for parents and teens.

 

#WORLDADOPTIONDAY is Nov 9

You are invited to join us in celebrating #WorldAdoptionDay this year. It is a day to globally celebrate families created through adoption and all those who are touched by adoption.

For the past 4 years, people around the world have put a smiley face on their hand and posted it on social media with #WorldAdoptionDay.

We’ve seen people participate from multiple countries, host events all around the world, and influencers like Ellen DeGeneres, Shaquille O’Neal, Ernie Johnson Jr, Shonda Rhimes, Connie Britton and more participate.

I’d like to personally invite you to join us this year! Draw a smiley face on your hand and post a selfie on your social media account with #WorldAdoptionDay.

It’s easy, kind of fun and a great way to support a growing movement of celebrate the beauty of adoption. So, grab your sharpie and plan to post your smiley hand for #WorldAdoptionDay.