What it is: One of teens’ top Christmas list items for 2023 was a $600 hair styling system called the Dyson Airwrap.
What it means: As of this writing, #dysonairwrap has 5.9 billion TikTok views. The tool comes with multiple attachments and claims to help users achieve a range of hairstyles, including the voluminous beach waves that influencers favor. Like many other expensive things that teens favored this year (including Stanley tumblers, White Fox sweats, and Hoka sneakers), owning an Airwrap is seen as a status symbol as much as a useful, high-quality product. Beauty retailers made a hard sell for the Airwrap (and sister products sold by Dyson, the Supersonic hair dryer and the Corrale straightener) starting on Black Friday, with deep discounts on the sought-after item to make it seem like the best time to buy. The Airwrap appears to have been nestled under a surprising number of Christmas trees. For most families, a $600 hair tool would not seem economically feasible, even with a sale. Dyson has announced plans to develop more hair care products, advancing an industry where the technology has been mostly stagnant since the 1950s.
Continue the conversation: Did any of your friends get the Dyson Airwrap for Christmas?
2. Over Yondr
What it is: Public schools in the US have spent at least $2.5 million on individual slipcases called Yondr pouches that make smartphones inaccessible during school hours.
What people are saying: Yondr pouches have been available for almost ten years, and used in schools for eight. But as scrutiny over how device use may impact how young brains develop has continued to increase, so have schools’ orders for Yondr products. School officials interviewed by NBC News noted that the pouches successfully redirected students’ attention in the classroom and enhanced the quality of their social interactions face-to-face. The pouches do have drawbacks, though, as critics have aptly noted. At least 80 petitions that voice student concerns about the safety of Yondr in schools have been started on Change.org. One skeptic who studies brain science noted that the pouches don’t teach students how to self-regulate their tech use, which means they may still struggle with technology addiction later on.
Continue the conversation: Would a pouch that locks students out of their phones be a good idea at your school or church? Why or why not?
3. The Alphas Have Arrived
What it is: The New York Times published 12 predictions for the forces that will shape trends and culture this year, noting that Gen Alpha is poised to influence what’s in style.
What else could be in store? Style forecasters in the Times predict that rosettes will adorn our clothing, athletic prowess will be cool again thanks to Travis Kelce, smartwatches will inundate elementary schools, and more men will be getting their nails done. And the senior members of Gen Alpha, finally old enough to (legally) engage in public social media spaces, may be out in full force to let Gen Z know that old age comes for us all. It’s a powerful turning point when you consider the elements (like COVID-19, YouTube shorts, and ubiquitous iPads) that have already shaped childhood for this group of people. Gen Alpha is currently defined as the people born from 2010 to 2024, and it is estimated that they will number 2 billion—the largest generational cohort in history.
Continue the conversation: What seems different to you about Gen Alpha compared to Gen Z?
Song of the Week
“Stick Season” by Noah Kahan: 2023 was a breakout year for folk singer Noah Kahan. His album “Stick Season” exploded in popularity, and his B-side-style releases with features like Post Malone, Hozier, and Kacey Musgraves helped catapult him to a superstar status. But surprisingly, at the start of 2024, the title track off “Stick Season” is again sitting high on both the Spotify and the Apple Music streaming charts. It makes sense that a song about the pain of drifting away from an ex, feeling like an outsider in the place you grew up, and the ways you’ve changed but your hometown hasn’t would get popular during a time of the year when many college students and young adults journeyed home for winter holidays. The name of the song also alludes to a time of year, especially in the northeastern United States, where the air is cold, the sun is rare, and all the leaves have fallen off the trees—the “season of the sticks.” It might not resonate much with our friends in the southern hemisphere right now, but maybe it will in June. For lyrics, click here.
A New Language for the New Year
Even at the best of times, teens can seem like a total mystery to their parents. So what happens when it feels like they’re speaking a whole new language? Teens in 2024 are reaching maturity in what can feel like a totally new-to-us world, and they’re knee-deep in the chaos that adolescence historically brings. As if that wasn’t enough, now they’re talking about girl dinners and situationships, and for some reason, the Roman Empire. It’s enough to make some parents feel like giving up on real conversations.
It’s understandable to feel helpless when your kid walks into a room and says something that might as well be an alien language, but it’s also something of a parental rite of passage. At some point when you were young, you probably mystified your own parents, and someday your children’s children will mystify them. You’re not alone, and this isn’t an insurmountable obstacle.
After Jesus ascended into heaven following his death and resurrection, His disciples met together at Pentecost and experienced the powerful anointing of the Holy Spirit. The very first miracle the Spirit empowered them to perform was one of communication and relationship. The disciples began to share the gospel in the many different languages of the friends and neighbors around them.
When we talk about “culture translation,” defining slang and diving deep into trends and media, it’s this kind of connection we’re striving for. In the book of Acts, the people were drawn to the message of the disciples because they heard them “declaring the wonders of God in [their] own tongues.” God’s truth and light exist in every corner of our world, and as parents it’s our commission (and our great joy) to guide our children to walk with Christ. Talking with our kids about Fortnite or Harry Styles or TikTok might feel shallow, but you never know when the Spirit might move and use those conversations, creating space for your children to hear the gospel in their own language.
With that in mind, here are some questions to help kick off conversations with your teens:
- What’s something about being a teen today that you wish I understood?
- Is there anything that people younger than you say or do that confuses you?
- What is one thing you think that your generation and my generation have in common?