(Header image via Happy Mag.)
3 Things This Week
1. A Very Corporate Battle Royale
What it is: Epic Games, makers of Fortnite, created a way for Fortnite players to give money directly to Epic, cutting Apple and Google out of the handsome royalty they typically get from every purchase made through their app stores. In retaliation, both companies took Fortnite out of their app stores.
Why you might be forced to care: As of now, Fortnite still works with no issue on any device where it’s already being played. But on August 27, Fortnite’s new “season” will release and users will need to install a “patch” from their device’s app store to update the game and make sure it keeps working. Teens who have been playing on Apple and Google devices may be on the hunt for a new device to use. The hashtag #freefortnite has been trending as Epic works to win users over to “their side,” just in case all of this isn’t resolved by the new season’s release. Expect to hear more about this over the next few days.
2. Pasta Takes a Dark Turn
What it is: Statements like “I had pasta tonight” and “I finished my shampoo and conditioner at the same time” have become coded language on TikTok that mean the poster is depressed and may be thinking of self-harm.
Why there’s light, even in the darkness: For the most part, TikTok captions have never been written with adult viewers in mind, but for the app’s mostly teen audience. These cries for help are frightening, especially when you consider how easily they might fly under a parent’s radar. But at least these teens are asking for help. Posts captioned “I had pasta tonight” are typically love-bombed by friends, acquaintances, and even strangers leaving words of encouragement, resource links, and “reasons to stay.” If you’d like help on how to address mental health issues with your teens, check out our Parent’s Guide to Suicide & Self-Harm Prevention.
3. Instagram Is a Political PowerPoint Now
What it is: Gen Zers have started using Instagram Stories as the latest tool for spreading political and cultural information in a format that’s easy on the eyes and simple to share.
Why it’s definitely not harmless: As some observers are pointing out, the vibrant and engaging appearance of these “story slides” have made them the perfect vector for misinformation and conspiracy theories to breed and multiply. Facebook and Twitter updated their policies to remove accounts linked to extremist groups, but that won’t necessarily stop the spread of this kind of content. Your teen has most likely been trained to consume media in a way that involves internalizing what they see and making it personal. When accounts they trust share “news” that’s actually not, it can be hard for them to disengage their personal feelings about who shared it from what was actually shared. Help your teens understand that just because someone they like posted something, that doesn’t make what was posted true.
Spotlight: Have you checked out our new book Engaging Your Teen’s World yet? After a little over a week it’s already #24 in Christian Family & Relationship on Amazon! Get practical help on setting boundaries with devices, and having crucial conversations about sexting, video games, gender, and so much more.
As we wrote a few weeks ago, Kanye West is everywhere these days. He’s making albums, running for President, signing clothing deals, and even creating cartoon characters. But apparently, the self-made man has a new vision: Jesus Tok. While watching TikTok videos with his daughter, Ye was “disturbed by a lot of the content” on the platform, but fascinated by the technology. He went on to say, “We pray we can collaborate with TikTok to make a Christian monitored version that feels safer for young children and the world in Jesus name.”
Critics were quick to point out that if Ye wants to rid the world of disturbing content, he might start by putting his own house in order. One pointed out how his wife Kim Kardashian continues to post sexually explicit content on her Instagram account. Another drew attention to Ye’s 2018 song “I Love It,” which includes the line, “You’re such a f***in ho, I love it.” Others responded by saying that that was just the old Kanye, and that now, in Christ, he is a new creation.
There are aspects of West’s vision for a cleaned up TikTok that we appreciate. We admire his desire to create safe spaces online for children, free from tempting content. Maybe for younger kids, this is the best answer; but simply redirecting the next generation to the “Jesus version” of content isn’t a sustainable long-term strategy. As they grow up, they also need to be shown what it means to be in the world, but not of it. They need to be offered a deeper vision for human flourishing than just the Christian version of whatever’s already on TikTok. Unfortunately, when Christian companies have tried this kind of thing in the past, the result has often only felt like a cheap knock-off.
So instead of taking the easy route with yet another Christian entertainment bubble that will one day burst, help your kids to love that which is good and hate that which is evil, equipping them to resist disturbing content on their own. Our goal as parents isn’t to permanently insulate our children from the world, it’s to train them up in the way they should go. We do this by preparing the child for the path, not preparing the path for the child.
For more on this, check out this podcast by our friend Tim Elmore, as he provides deeper insight into what it takes for parents to prepare Gen Z for the path of life!