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3 Things This Week
1. Lip-Sync Heaven
What it is: After rumors of a ban, President Trump gave TikTok 45 days to leave the U.S. or sell its U.S. operations (Microsoft jumped at the chance). Meanwhile, Instagram launched its copycat Reels, Snapchat announced its own copycat, and Triller (a similar app) topped the iOS App Store this week.
Why it matters: This just means that the teen-beloved lip-syncing video format is going nowhere. It’s safe to say the format has become not only the zeitgeist of this social media age, but also how young people express themselves. So while their preference may be to keep TikTok, they will seek out a new platform if TikTok does cease to exist. As parents, we need to expect that our teens’ and tweens’ desire to participate will only increase, making conversations about the pros and cons, the risks, how to stay safe, and how to represent Christ well even more paramount. (Check out our related Parent Guides on TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram for help!)
2. Content Authenticity Initiative
Why it’s promising: Seeking to create more transparency around digital images, attribution, and manipulation, Adobe wants to create a universal metadata system that allows creators “to claim authorship and empower[s] consumers to assess whether what they are seeing is trustworthy.” They are currently partnering with Twitter, as well as in talks with other social media platforms to ensure widespread adoption of the system. It’s a step in the right direction for helping digital citizens figure out if what they’re looking at is authentic, has been altered or manipulated, and whether it can be believed. Talk to your teens about what they think this will change if it works. Will they utilize it to help them better recognize when a person has altered their body? Will it mitigate the threat of deepfake technology? Why or why not?
3. Seven Ways to Misery
What it is: Psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein illuminates seven harmful thought patterns that children and teens often default to.
Why they’re conquerable: The new school year is upon us, and whether your students will be learning digitally, in person, or some combination thereof, this year presents very unique challenges on top of all the usual ones. Trying to navigate the new technological and social unknowns is difficult enough and can easily take priority over dealing with emotional and mental health, leading to even more stress, anxiety, and burnout. But as Dr. Bernstein points out, it’s that much more important this year to help them recognize these distorted ways of thinking and offer them healthier perspectives and self-talk. Carve out 10 minutes to read his article and assess not only your students’ mindsets, but also your own. Then think about how to implement his suggestions as school starts.
Spotlight: Our brand new book, Engaging Your Teen’s World, is available for preorder! It unpacks principles for strengthening your relationship with your teen despite unique challenges presented by culture, media, and technology. The best part? If you buy the book today, you get 3 months of All Axis Pass membership completely free! Pick up your copy now.
Sunday, August 9th is National Book Lovers Day! Research suggests reading can rewire your brain, building empathy, compassion, and a larger worldview. A great story invites you to see the world with a fresh set of lenses and can even change what you believe from a spiritual perspective. We often create a distinction between sacred and secular works of literature, but a proper understanding of the world helps us see that if a book is good, beautiful, and true, there is no reason why it cannot point us toward the divine.
When you find a book you not only love, but a book that changed your life, you want to share it with others. So we asked our staff to list the works of fiction that impacted their spiritual lives the most. Here’s a list of 10 books our staff recommends your teen read in order to expand their mind, open their heart, and cultivate their love for God and their understanding of the human condition.
For ages 13+, we recommend:
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn By Mark Twain
- Swing by Kwame Alexander
For 16+, we recommend:
- The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
- Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriett Beecher Stowe
- Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
- All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
For very mature young philosophers, we recommend:
- The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
If your children read or have already read one of these books, ask them how the book changed their perspective of the world and their place in it. Which character did they identify with the most and why? One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is a love of learning and a love of reading. Encourage them to grab one of these books in the final days before school starts and simply read something for fun, not because they have to.