Vol. 2 Issue 44 | November 4, 2016
Three Things This Week
1. Are Middle Schoolers Immune?
What it is: After 9 years of ministry to Christian students, parents, teachers, and faith leaders, we’ve recognized a misconception in Christian circles: Middle schoolers haven’t yet seen porn, so if we talk about its dangers with them, we’ll cause them to get curious and seek it out.
Why it's wrong: Stats show that, because of Internet-enabled devices, 51% of male and 32% of female students first view explicit content before they turn 13. In fact, there are many stories of children who are addicted well before they hit high school. Here are five signs your child might be looking at porn. Our children need us to be proactive in talking with them about God’s life-giving design for sexuality while teaching them about the destructive, long-term consequences of pornography. We’ve developed a Virtual Training to help you in this endeavor. Click here to learn more.
2. The Jen Hatmaker Controversy
What it is: Religion News released an interview with Christian celeb Jen Hatmaker in which she revealed, among other things, that her support of same-sex marriage is based on lots of prayer, Scripture reading, and research.
Why it's misleading: As Rosaria Butterfield points out in her excellent response to Hatmaker, “The cross symbolizes what it means to die to self. We die so that we can be born again in and through Jesus, by repenting of our sin (even the unchosen ones) and putting our faith in Jesus, the author and finisher of our salvation.” Yet acceptance of homosexuality is trending up in almost all Christian groups. If you or your students are confused about a Christian response to homosexuality and how to love those who identify with the LGBT community, we understand. This controversy is a great way to open the discussion and begin to research together.
3. Goodbye, Sexy Peach
What it is: Apple released iOS 10.2 beta to the public this week, revealing lots of new emojis (#facepalm) and a redesigned peach emoji. The changes will come to an iPhone near you soon.
Why it's important: Emojis, memes, and GIFs are the language of millennials and post-millennials, so we not only need to use them well in our communications with them, we also need to know their hidden meanings. The peach has long been used to symbolize someone’s derrière, but the new design looks much less like one, which most likely means a new emoji will replace it soon. We’ll keep you updated!.
What would The Twilight Zone 2016 look like? Probably a lot like Black Mirror, a British TV show that recently released its third season on Netflix. Built around the idea that technology is mastering our lives, the show’s Twitter description is spot on: “Our job is to explain what’s happening to you as best we can.”
Though set in the future, Black Mirror is realistic enough that it could easily become a reality within the next few years. We commend it for unwaveringly questioning social constructs, and our mindless addiction to our devices. But, it’s very bleak and hopeless. The show offers hardly any solutions to the problems it presents.
It’s also filled with graphic content that few adults, let alone teens, should ever see. After screening the show, we were disturbed by what takes place in a mere 50 minutes in some episodes. Yet it seems to be self-aware, testing how far media can go before we draw the line. With graphic bludgeonings in multiple shows last week (e.g. The Walking Dead and American Horror Story), how extreme do we let a show become before we say enough is enough and stop watching?
If you have students who watch Black Mirror, ask them why they’re intrigued by it, then ask them to be honest about how the content has impacted them. Open the dialogue for them to ask questions about other issues it brings up. This is not a show we can recommend families watch together, but in cases where your students have already seen it, it may be wise to familiarize yourself with a few episodes to understand the questions it asks and the way in which it asks them so as to better direct discussion. Without your guidance, teens could feel lost, hopeless, depressed, and unable to see good in mankind anymore.
Black Mirror may be an incredible allegory for the human condition, but it comes with severe consequences (which seems like its own ironic lesson in and of itself).