Vol. 4 Issue 19 | May 11, 2018

Three Things This Week

1. The Deodorant Challenge

What it is: The latest viral internet challenge has teens spraying deodorant on someone else for as long as possible, leading to severe burns.

Why it’s all about the FOMO: Like the Tide Pod Challenge, the Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge, or the Blue Whale Challenge, teens are especially susceptible to the newest, craziest fad. Because of social media, what used to be an isolated “double-dog dare” is now a global sensation. The best way to protect them from the next craze (and, in this case, hurting themselves) is to stay informed, talk about it, acknowledge the realities of peer pressure, and help them process cause and effect. Ask your son or daughter if they’ve ever participated in an internet challenge, and if so, why? What was the result?

2. This Is America

What it is: Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, released a troubling music video that became an “overnight cultural phenomenon.”

Why it’s provocative: The song and the video especially are a social commentary on gun violence, racism, and entertainment as a form of escapism. In the video, Gambino plays “the complex role of America herself”, personifying a violent culture that uses entertainment as an opiate for the masses. Beyond the hidden meanings and symbolism, the song expresses a “millennial mindset that demands social responsibility.” Often, art forces us to talk about taboo subjects we’d rather just ignore. Although the video is shocking and uncomfortable, we encourage you to watch it and discuss it with your teen if they’ve seen it. What is Glover trying to get the viewer to see and feel? What was good, missing, or confusing about video? What was convicting? What can you and your family do to engage in this global conversation?

3. All Night

What it is: Hulu’s timely new show “in which a group of new grads will do whatever it takes to make their remaining high school dreams come true.”

Why it’s shallow: Premiering today and set in 2018, it’s a modern take on classic storylines (Dazed and Confused, Can’t Hardly Wait), but it offers nothing of real substance, reinforcing the do-or-die mentality: “This is my last chance to…” “I’ll never see these people again!” “Grad party will be everything!” The show features some YouTube stars, and it’s rife with teen hopes, dreams, stereotypes/tropes, and drama, appealing to teens who also feel anxiously nostalgic about their own grad nights. Though not without some positives, a quick review of the first few episodes left us wondering, “Is this all we expect of our teens? Is this all we’ve shown them life is about?” Even if you don’t let your teens watch it, it’s an eye-opening look at teen culture, expectations, and how big (or small) their worlds might be.

Ninja or LeBron?

Who’s the best? Who has the most fans? The epic rivalry may never be resolved.

In today’s world, one of the most hotly contended and important rivalries is sports vs. esports. Are esports even sports? Are its players really athletes? Who’s more popular: LeBron or Ninja? Fans of each are passionate about the topic, and stats like this only serve to reignite the argument.

Regardless of our opinions, it’s important to know what our kids think. If we have gamers in our homes, then Ninja, PewDiePie, and TSM Myth are just as important and influential to them as LeBron, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant might be to a basketball fan.

Esports are quickly gaining in prominence and popularity (though stats comparing esports to traditional sports might be highly inflated), thanks to things like esports teams and scholarships coming to universities and even high schools (a 13-year-old Fortnite player was recently signed to a professional team!), as well as traditional sports teams buying esports franchises. But what makes them even more appealing is the new world of streamers, professional esports athletes, and the rise of Let’s Play videos, all of which make the stars more accessible and often more relatable than traditional pro athletes. Even if a teen doesn’t game much, they probably have seen YouTube videos, watched a stream on Twitch, or followed a gamer on social media.

This means two things for us. First, we need to know and spend time learning about the things our kids care about, even if it’s something as foreign (or maybe as ridiculous seeming?) as esports. Perhaps we need to watch a livestream or play their favorite game? Or, if that’s too invasive for them, we can at least ask them about what’s going on in their world and listen attentively to their responses. When we do that, we show we love them in ways our words often can’t.

And second, we need to support them in their interests and ambitions while still enforcing healthy boundaries and habits. These pro gamers have tremendous influence—sometimes good, sometimes not—so we need to regularly have conversations with them about it. In addition, becoming a pro gamer could happen with enough practice and determination. But just like we shouldn’t let traditional sports become an obsession, we can’t let esports take over, either. And because esports are quite sedentary compared to their traditional predecessors, it’s important we help them stay physically active.

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