Vol. 4 Issue 13 | March 30, 2018
Three Things This Week
1. Amino Apps
What it is: A newer “ecosystem of apps” that allows users to find community around common interests.
Why it's kinda dangerous: Ever argued with a teen about something—something you’re objectively right about—only to have them tell you that their friends or “support group” says you’re wrong? Talk about frustrating! Not only does this delve into how truth is determined, it also makes you wonder who those people are. Enter Amino, a place to find “authentic mobile community for whatever you’re into.” Anorexic? Connect with others who are, too! Into witchcraft? Find “your people.” Many of the communities on Amino are based around harmless things (e.g. Minecraft, My Little Pony, musical artists, etc.), but all of them are built on one idea: connecting with “like minded people.” Welcome to the echo chamber! For more info on the app, check out our new parent guide. In the meantime, apps like this highlight the need to help teens find authentic community—not just community in which everyone is the same, but community that embodies unity in the midst of diversity while constructively challenging their presuppositions.
2. Everything Sucks!
What it is: Netflix’s throwback high school drama set in 1996 Oregon details teen life at the beginning of the internet age.
Why it can be mutually beneficial: Similar to the movie Love, Simon, the series centers around the protagonist’s process of dealing with her same-sex attraction. Students will empathize with the storyline because they filter their beliefs about LGBT+ issues through the lens of personal relationships, while older generations filter their beliefs about the same issue through the lens of abstract truth. Maybe we need each other to balance the equation. Our kids need a scriptural understanding of godly sexuality, while we need their empathy and love for people with whom we strongly disagree. What would it look like for your family to model this tension correctly—to develop deep relationships across boundaries, leaving everyone changed in Christ-like ways?
3. Shame On Us
What it is: Imagine Dragons’ lead singer recently opened up about the shame he experienced from the LDS church after having premarital sex.
Why it's convicting: The LDS church’s response to his sin is no different from many orthodox Christian church’s responses to things like premarital sex, pregnancy out of wedlock, and abortion: shunning and shame. Yes, we are called to holiness. Jesus commanded the woman caught in adultery to “go, and sin no more”—but He didn’t condemn her. “The seemingly rigid legalism of some Christians conveys a sense that we need to be perfect—almost without sin—to be part of a Christian community.” In fact, 40% of abortions are performed on women in the church who fear being judged, shamed, and gossiped about. Whoa. But forgiveness, not shame, is the true path toward freedom and reconciliation. As Brene Brown says, “Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.”
7 Tips for Surviving the Surveillance Age
Mark Zuckerberg admitted to a “breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us,” and it’s just the tip of the iceberg. What’s becoming clear is just how much info both Facebook and Google collect about us. It’s astounding, especially if you tend to simply agree to any and all new features. Which, btw, is most teens. Why? Because these features offer new conveniences (e.g. “enable your location to use Snap Maps and see what others in your area are saying!”), so it may not be clear at face value exactly what else they’re agreeing to (“We know everywhere you’ve been and duration at each place since you began using Snap Maps!”).
It’s essential to help Gen Z discern whether the conveniences they receive are worth the data they’re giving up. Here are 7 tips (of 18) The Guardian recommends for protecting ourselves (and for teaching our kids to do the instant they get an internet-connected device).
- Download all the info Google has on you...and your teens.
This is a great place to start the conversation because it’s mind-blowing just how much information they have on us.
- Turn off notifications for anything that’s not another person speaking directly to you.
We’ve become so used to notifications that this will feel weird, but “if you would be annoyed by a robot calling you up to tell you something, why are you letting it interrupt your thought process in another way?”
- Never put your kids on the public internet.Imagine if our parents had had the internet when we were kids.
What fallout would we be dealing with from what they posted about us? That’s what our kids may very well face in the near future. “If it’s public, Google can find it. And if Google can find it, it’s never going away.”
- Sometimes it’s worth just wiping everything and starting over.
Again, sounds strange. But let’s stop being digital hoarders and realize that most of what we post on the internet isn’t worth keeping anyway. It will also help us to recognize which apps we need vs. those we never use. You could have an annual “Family Phone Wipe Day” each year!
- Don’t let the algorithms pick what you do.
Autoplay? Disable it! Don’t let it tell you what to watch. Suggested reading? Dig a little deeper than what a robot thinks you should read. And teach your kids to do the same.
- Do what you want with your info, but guard your friends’ (or kids’) info with your life.
Yes, we can do what we want with our own data, but our friends’ and kids’ data isn’t ours; it’s theirs. So authorizing access to your contacts? Bad idea.
- Remember your privacy (and your kids’) is worth protecting.
The Guardian put it so well, we’re just going to quote them:
Increasingly, our inner lives are being reduced to a series of data points; every little thing we do is for sale. As we’re starting to see, this nonstop surveillance changes us. It influences the things we buy and the ideas we buy into. Being more mindful of our online behaviour, then, isn’t just important when it comes to protecting our information, it’s essential to protecting our individuality.
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