Vol. 4 Issue 34 | August 24. 2018

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Three Things This Week

1. New Job of Choice

What it is: Rather than heading out to work at restaurants, retail stores, and landscaping companies this past summer, many teens may instead have opted to post a few pictures on Instagram for quick cash.

Why it’s deceiving: Teen summer jobs are, admittedly, not that great. But they do help teach hard work and perseverance, as well as provide a good lesson that, in the long run, steady work and lifelong learning leads to real gains. Getting rich quick and easy almost always fails or has a hidden cost. It may be tempting for your teens to want to take the easy route on Instagram, but the influencer fad has a lot of potential to become oversaturated and fade. Teen influencers are also easy targets for scams, so make sure you know what kind of work your teens are partaking in and help guide them to paths that have lifelong rewards. And definitely read the above article.

2. Insta-Novels

What it is: The New York Public Library is putting books where the kids are by using Stories (on Instagram, that is) to feature stories (classic ones, that is)

Why it’s innovative: In an effort to “promote reading while adapting to modern trends,” the NYPL has utilized Instagram’s platform to distribute classic literature by turning pages into short videos. A user simply taps on the “story” of a book (currently limited to Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland), then holds their finger on the screen until they’re ready for the next page. The creative agency who helped create them explained why IG works: “From the way you turn the pages, to where you rest your thumb while reading, the experience is already unmistakably like reading a paperback novel.” What do you think: innovative or ridiculous? What do your teens think? Do they think it would actually get the to read more? Or will they stick to the cat Stories they know and love?

3. Tattoos FTW?

What it is: A new study shows that up to 40% of Millennials (b. 1981 to ~1999) now have tattoos and that, for some, tattoos actually offered employment advantages.

Why it’s a shift: Tattoos have long been associated with social outcasts, criminals, and alternative lifestyles. But this new study reveals a paradigm shift: As a society we are much more accepting of tattoos as part of our individual expression. Lead author of the study explained, “The long-held stigmas associated with having tattoos, and particularly visible ones, may be eroding, especially among younger individuals who view body art as a natural and common form of personal expression.” Our “Parent’s Guide to Tattoos” (free for Culture Translator Premium subscribers! Scroll down for download link) helps you understand the history of tattoos, their risk, the biblical arguments for and against them, and conversations to have with your teens about them.

The Rise of the Challenges

A 12-year-old girl in Detroit, MI won’t be starting school as planned. Instead, she’ll be in the hospital, undergoing major surgeries and recovering from severe burns. What happened? The Internet and herself.

You see, she was attempting the “fire challenge”—going back as far as 2012—which involves pouring a small amount of rubbing alcohol on oneself and lighting it on fire because, presumably, the fire will go out quickly since rubbing alcohol burns rapidly. Of course, like all challenges, it must be filmed and subsequently posted to various social media platforms in the hopes it will garner more views, likes, follows, and subscribes. And this, like the “cinnamon challenge” or “Tide Pod challenge” or “condom snorting challenge,” leaves us all wondering: Why?

Why are these challenges (many of which are dangerous, if not life-threatening) so appealing to teens? Don’t they see the danger in lighting oneself on fire or eating dangerous chemicals? And if they do, what’s so compelling that they’re willing to do it anyway? Since we can’t interview everyone who’s ever participated or contemplated doing so, we can only speculate, but we believe there are 3 main contributing factors.

  1. Peer pressure and/or social status. Most of Gen Z wasn’t even born when Facebook was invented, and social media is so ingrained in their lives that it’s normal to want more followers, likes, and views in order to feel validated. So if a challenge will help boost their reach, why not?
  2. “It won’t happen to me.” If teens have watched videos of others’ doing challenges, then they’ve definitely seen the failed attempts. And yet, they continue to participate, bringing us to wonder if the idea that they’re invincible or that they’re young and will live forever subconsciously influences them to believe that others might get hurt, but they won’t.
  3. Street cred. In generations past, the “cool” kids took risks by driving their cars too fast or by smoking or drinking or otherwise breaking the rules. Such risky behavior was seen as proof that the person wasn’t living a “safe” life, that he/she was milking life for all it was worth (YOLO). Maybe that perception has now evolved to include trying dangerous challenges…or at least some of participants hope it has.

Have your teens participated in any of the challenges? Ask them why. Get them to really analyze it (“It was fun” doesn’t suffice; why was it fun?). Though we may not understand “teens these days,” we can enter their world by taking the time to understand it before we judge it or write it off completely. By doing so, we may even earn the right to speak wisdom and perspective into it.

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