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1. Not Kidding

What it is: Gen Z is complaining on TikTok that kids thirteen and under are poorly behaved—and they think parents who enable too much screen time are to blame. #ipadkids has 833 million views. 
What their problem is: “iPad kid” is a term used for a child who has long been coddled instead of disciplined, and ignored at an age when they should have been deeply engaged. Their level of entitlement holds their millennial parents in an iron grip of emotional tyranny. Another thing in their grip is iPads. At this point, we’ve probably all encountered an “iPad kid” in their natural habitat (Applebee’s), but Gen Z is past annoyed and full-out irate about iPad kids. They see the millennial generation of parents as negligent, suggesting they are stunting the development of their little cousins, younger siblings, and future co-workers, and they’re mad at what they see as gross moral failures. The big takeaway here is that while Gen Z has already given up on their elders being better parents, they are determined (language) not to repeat the same mistakes.
Start the conversation: What do you think about “iPad kids”? Why?

2. Welcome to Sound Town

What it is: Spotify’s annual “Wrapped” dropped this week, and as usual, the listening report amused and informed as people shared screenshots of their results.
What’s new this year: According to Spotify’s data, Gen Z’s listening habits this year closely mirrored the top of the pop charts. Solo artists were the biggest winners, with Bad Bunny, Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, Peso Pluma, Miley Cyrus, Harry Styles, The Weeknd, and SZA owning the top ten. A new feature this year was something called “Sound Town,” which involved Spotify matching listeners with a geographic location that seemed to align with their listening tastes. (Many lovers of indie pop like boygenius found themselves sound-towned to Burlington, Vermont).
Start the conversation: Who were some of your favorite artists this year?

3. Watermelon Activism

What it is: The watermelon emoji is being used as a symbol of the pro-Palestinian cause, primarily because the red, black, and green colors of a watermelon are the same as the Palestinian flag.
What is going on: Many across the world breathed a prayer of gratitude this week when a temporary ceasefire in the West Bank reunited families in the Middle East. But this did little to quell the conversation on TikTok about Palestinian/Israeli relations. As we’ve discussed previously in this newsletter, much of Gen Z feels morally obligated to support what they see as Palestinian efforts for self-determination. These young people simply don’t view this conflict the way older people do; they get their news alongside their social media entertainment, mashed up and blended back together in a personalized feed that is governed by a bloodless algorithm. The use of coded language (also called “algospeak”) like the watermelon emoji is ostensibly meant to evade bot-automated content moderators. (Another example: an alternate spelling of the word “Zionist” is being used as an anti-Semitic slur). If your teen has a distinctly different view of October 7, what preceded it, and what has happened since, it is still possible that they are paying just as much attention (or more) to the conflict as you are.
Start the conversation: Do you feel like you mainly hear one perspective about the Israel-Hamas war online?

Resource of the Week

A Parent’s Guide to Manifesting: Manifesting is the spiritual practice of asking or calling out to the universe with the belief that it will respond and reward your request. It’s an appealing concept to many, and #manifesting is rapidly approaching 10 billion views on TikTok. Manifesting influencers often present the practice as low investment for a high-reward, promising results ranging from the benign (you’ll manifest a good day) to the ridiculous (you’ll manifest a new nose on your face and a billion dollars). Most young people have at least heard of manifesting, and many are sure to have tried it. But is it really just a God-less prayer or is something deeper at play here? Our Parent’s Guide to Manifesting seeks to answer that question, explaining the philosophical and spiritual origins of the practice, and showing how they compare with the truths we find in the Bible. We hope this resource will help you have rich conversations with the teens in your life.

How “The One Conversation” Changed My Parenting Forever

If you’ve been around Axis for any length of time, you’ve probably heard us talk about the concept of “One Conversation.” It’s a communication model between teens and their parents that’s meant to take place over a lifetime. Instead of making sure we check off “the sex talk,” “the gender talk,” and whatever other talk we have on our list, the One Conversation is about demonstrating an interest in what our teens care about, and leveraging the relational clout that comes from that to talk about important issues when they come up organically.

Toben Heim is the Chief Operations Officer at Axis. He joined our organization in part because of how The One Conversation transformed how he parented his own kids. As he puts it in this week’s podcast interview, “The idea behind the One Conversation is just like, start a conversation, keep it going, and then the opportunity to talk about the important stuff will come up. And when you get to that important stuff, it’ll just be part of the natural ebb and flow of the conversation.”

Dr. Tina Schermer Sellers once wrote that “…children and adolescents do not need one 100-minute (awkward and painful) sexual health conversation; they need 100 one-minute conversations. They need sexual and relational education delivered in many, many sound bites, weekly, across their entire childhood and teen years.” The One Conversation is about applying this mindset to everything, including sexual health but also music, mental health, faith, doubt, video games, the gospel, social media, and prayer.

It’s also about a willingness to listen, and to talk with our kids rather than at our kids. “[My daughter] would not want me talking to her, or at her—she wants me to talk with her,” Toben says. “So what’s the easiest way to talk with somebody? Ask great questions, be an active listener. There’s just certain communication principles that breed conversation. Talking at somebody is not that.”

The full conversation with Toben is well worth your time, and the principles we discuss are at the heart of why we do what we do at Axis. To listen, check out the Wednesday episode of our Culture Translator podcast this week. In the meantime, here are three questions that we hope can help set you and your families up for better conversation:

  • When was the last time you felt like someone really heard or understood you?
  • How do you feel like conversation usually goes in our family?
  • What can I as a parent do to show you that I care about what you care about?