Vol. 5 Issue 1 | January 4, 2019

Three Things This Week

1. Sex Education

What it is: On January 11, Netflix’s new series Sex Education will be available to binge.

Why it’s a wake-up call: Sadly, most of Christian culture has been very tight-lipped on the subjects of sex and sexuality over the last few decades, except to tout abstinence and get teens to make purity pledges. Which is why a show about teenagers called “Sex Education” may be very intriguing. As the trailer makes clear, they have lots of questions about sex and their changing bodies, but have we made our kids feel comfortable enough to broach the topics with us? Or are they going to their peers for advice? If you haven’t yet started having the sex talks (yes, plural!) with your kids (check out our Parent Guide for help), it’s quite possible that their views of sex, sexuality, p*rnography, and more are already being shaped by myriad other voices.

2. Depression & Social Media

What it is: A large study out of the UK has found a link between increased use of social media and depression, especially in girls.

Why it’s a reminder: This is yet another study with bad news for social media. But it makes something else clear: Girls are not only using social media more than boys, they are also much more negatively affected by it. Social media may not cause poor mental health, but it’s definitive that it’s not good for it, even in small amounts. So what does this mean? As much as teens are dependent on and will defend social media, they still need our guidance to know how to use it well and to recognize when it’s become too important or altogether unhealthy. Check out our new Social Media Conversation Kit and Parent Guide for conversation starters and practical tips.

3. Ninja’s Best Year

What it is: Popular Fortnite streamer and professional gamer Ninja reportedly made nearly $10 million dollars in 2018, thanks largely due to income from YouTube and Twitch.

Why it’s misleading: What a dream, right? Make millions by doing something you love and would do even if you weren’t earning money from it. Even Ninja (aka Tyler Blevins) said it was the best year of his life. But before you and your gamers sign up for the Fortnite World Cup, it’s important to look at the whole picture. He spends 12 hours a day every day streaming and hasn’t been on a vacation since his honeymoon over 8 years ago. When he’s not online, he and his wife/manager are thinking about how many subscribers and money they’re losing. As with many “alternative” vocations that exist in our influencer age, there are always trade offs, many of which we might not be willing to make if we understood what exactly was involved.

Family Night Will Save the World!

As mentioned above, mental health is increasingly deteriorating. Just this week alone, we came across 8 new articles talking about, chronicling, or seeking to explain and improve mental health. Is it worse now than in generations past? Or are we just talking about it more? Are we worse at coping than other generations? What’s causing it? What improves it? How can we be there for those who are struggling? How can we get better at admitting when we’re struggling? All things we need to consider and seek answers to.

But one thing has bubbled to the surface as true: Real, human interaction cannot be replaced by modern technology. Sure, texting, emailing, social networking, and the like can be quite useful and part of our interactions with others. But as soon as we begin outright substituting it for face-to-face, heart-to-heart, messy interactions, we begin losing part of ourselves. We were made for relationship and community, and it’s through community (the Church) that God is bringing about His glory and the renewal of all things.

Don’t get us wrong—online communities can be positive influences and even fill voids when physical community can’t be found. But if we and our kids continue to interact solely via screens, not only do we lose practice and get worse at face-to-face interaction, creating a downward spiral, we also will experience more and more of the negative side effects.

This means that being for family, community, and physical interaction may be much more powerful than being against phones, the internet, chat apps, and social media. So as hard as it might be to carve out time for family night, it may be the best thing we could do for our teenagers. By designating a place and time for conversation, non-screen activities, and being together (which admittedly won’t always be pleasant, and that’s ok!), we model the community their hearts long for and hope to find elsewhere. Yes, it’s harder and more demanding to cultivate this kind of community, but it’s infinitely more rewarding. (Need ideas for livening up family night? Check out our Parent Guide!)

Keep the Faith!

The Axis Team

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