3 Things This Week
1. Does This Text Make Me Look Angry?
What it is: For teens, “full stops” (i.e. sentences that end with a period) are seen as “intimidating,” and are assumed to convey a tone of anger or frustration.
Why it's wrecking your text threads with your teen: “Pistaphobia,” or fear of the period punctuation mark, is definitely a thing amongst teens. Since teens see each individual text as a full thought, adding a period can seem unnecessary and even passive-aggressive. Of course, for those of us who aren’t digital natives, skipping the period at the end of a text isn’t exactly second nature. But when your teen pings you with team practice times or a quick message to say they’ll be a little late, be aware that your quick response of “Okay.” could be interpreted as terse or foreboding.
2.YouTube Welcomes Its Robot Overlords
What it is: After enlisting the help of AI bots to moderate content and make its platform more kid-friendly, over 11 million videos were taken down in Q2 (which is 2 million more than Q2 in 2019).
Why it’s good… and bad: So much content is uploaded to YouTube every day that it’s nearly impossible for human moderators to comb through everything and enforce the site’s ever-evolving “standards.” Add coronavirus staffing restrictions, and YouTube just wasn’t keeping up. Meanwhile, YouTube remains the number one platform for teens, so it’s likely that every day, your teen streams something that an independent creator slapped onto the platform without any outside editors or oversight. So an increase in moderation is a good thing. But moderation by bots always carries the biases of the bot programmers, meaning that these steps might only make YouTube safer from certain types of content – and not necessarily the type you would’ve screened out. As always, the best “moderation” is open conversation with your teens.
3. Who Censors the Censors?
What it is: Pew data released this week showed that many Americans believe that the tech giants are actively censoring what they see on social media. A majority of participants across party lines said that it is at least somewhat likely that social media sites censor the views that their parent companies find most objectionable.
Why it’s complicated: Most people seem to agree that this type of censorship is happening, but viewpoints differ widely on if this censorship is good or bad. If someone is of the mindset that their particular viewpoints are being censored, they would see this censorship as politically motivated and poisonous. If someone is of the mindset that the views being censored are harmful anyway, they would tend to support this type of censorship. For some reason, Gen Z seems to have a much different view of censorship and free speech than previous generations (maybe because they have had a front row seat to the damage a social media free-for-all can cause), but take this awareness into your conversations with your teen about how tech platform censorship works and what it means in the long run.
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"We're gonna need a bigger faith..."
45 years ago this summer, Jaws hit the big screen, and those images of a great white shark roaming the shores of New England and preying on helpless swimmers have terrorized beachgoers ever since. Like the residents of Amity Island, we all just want to return to life as usual—but just when we thought (hoped, prayed) that it might be safe to get back in the water, COVID-19 still won’t let us. And the angst, anxiety, and frustration are reaching a boiling point.
Recently we surveyed our readers and asked how you were coping as parents during this unique time in human history. The results were not surprising. When asked to select the top thing your family is struggling with, 42% of you said anxiety. With the start of school, those anxiety levels are now even higher. So what can we do to lower anxiety levels in our homes and ease the frustration that will certainly rise when rites of passages like high school sports, in-seat classes, school dances, and even SAT tests are potentially canceled?
For starters, we can be thankful for what we do have. All over the world right now people are experiencing real suffering and true trauma. Do we have food on the table, warm beds, and a roof over our heads? Then let’s thank God for the gifts we have received. Second, we should intentionally build time outside into our new routines. Studies show that simply being in God’s good creation reduces stress and anxiety, making us aware of all the goodness and beauty surrounding us all. And finally, let’s cherish our time together. One day soon our kids will be grown and out of the house. Be thankful for these extra hours together, knowing that someday soon the demands of life in the modern world will separate us once again.
We might not be able to get back in the water any time soon, but maybe that’s okay. If our families can come together each day and share a meal or a walk, if we can remember to be thankful for what we do have, and if we can see all the goodness that still remains, then we all just might make it to the other side of this global crisis more healthy, more balanced, and more mentally prepared to face the challenges that lie ahead.