Three Things This Week
1. The Kids Have Left the Candy Store
What it is: Research from a UK-based fintech app for kids called RoosterMoney shows that tweens and young teens now spend more of their pocket money on Roblox and Fortnite than previous favorites like candy and books.
Why it’s worth thinking about: Fortnite was released in 2017, and gift cards for in-app purchases in the battle-royale game have topped teens’ wish-lists ever since. Roblox makes fewer big headlines, but the platform for code-based, accessible game design has actually been around since 2006. Users purchase “Robux” to use in the game and, in turn, fund creators—mostly teenagers—who craft different variations of gameplay. As these gaming platforms gobble up your teen’s allowance one dopamine hit at a time, consider how differently your teens may come to view money as they exchange an invisible currency for things they can neither touch nor keep.
2. iScreen, You Screen
What it is: The latest update for iPhone enables a new setting that lets users customize their home screen layout. Screenshots of intricate, retooled home screens are TikTok and Instagram bait for tuned-in teens.
Why it’s so 2020: If spending hours customizing an iPhone home screen strikes you as completely pointless, you’re right, it kind of is! But that’s what makes it fun. Sharing screenshots of a painstakingly created screen layout is a way for teens to inject a little more of their identity into their everyday lives. And since so much of “life” this year is pandemic-restricted or remote, a mobile device’s main screen might be something your teen is seeing a lot of these days. And if you’re in the mood for a laugh, maybe your app-loving teen is down for giving your home screen some design help.
3. Building an Oasis in the Screentime Desert
What it is: Now that school is back in session and (mostly) happening via Google Meet and Zoom, many families are feeling the “burnout” (language) of a life that feels screen-bound. An advice columnist on Mashable suggests that now is the time to do a “screen-time audit” to cut back on how much time kids spend with their tech.
Why it’s important: A “screen-time audit” takes back control of which activities take place in front of a screen, and shifts activities back to analog counterparts whenever possible. If you’ve got a bookworm on your hands, for example, you might redirect them to bury their nose in a paperback instead of a reading app. Storytelling podcasts you’ve vetted and approved could take the place of time spent watching television. Screens aren’t evil, but our tech was created to be habit-forming (as we pointed out in last week’s review of The Social Dilemma documentary). Even short breaks from screens can improve your family dynamic and the mental health of the teens entrusted to your care.
Spotlight: In an exclusive interview with Today, Kelly Clarkson opened up about the freedom that vulnerability has given her, even in her worst moments. Click here to read our take on the interview. We hope this inspires you to encourage openness and vulnerability in your own home!
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Cultural Icon
Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in her Washington, D.C. home on September 18, 2020, at the age of 87. She leaves behind her an impactful legacy as the “Notorious RBG,” the second woman to ever sit on the Supreme Court and 2002 inductee of the National Women’s Hall of Fame. A Brooklyn native, RBG juggled motherhood and Harvard law school, where she was one of nine females in a 500-person class, eventually earning her degree from Columbia Law in 1959. From law clerk to professor, US Court of Appeals judge all the way to Supreme Court justice, she proved the rewards of hard work, persistence, and drive, showing our young men and women that they can accomplish anything they set out to achieve.
You may wonder what interest RBG may hold for Gen Z because after all, she was a government official, not a pop star. But she wasn’t just a Supreme Court justice, she was a cultural icon widely-loved across generations. Not only was she instrumental in monumental cases that affect the younger generation today, but she was also a public figure admired on social media with books, movies, and Halloween costumes (language) to her name. Tweets and TikToks are coming straight from the mouths and hearts of Gen Z as they remember a woman who fought for equal rights throughout her lifetime.
Since her passing, there’s been a sudden shift in the national landscape in answering the question: Who will replace Ginsburg? We encourage you to check-in on your teen and ask how they’re feeling about this wave of national uncertainty. Especially if your teen has reached voting age, they may be feeling pressured by their peers to think, act, and vote a certain way based on recent events. Use this as an opportunity to teach your teen how to make informed decisions, not decisions based on the opinions of their friends, classmates, or even family members.
Mourning the loss of a cultural icon doesn’t indicate agreement with her judicial decisions or political stance, it makes us human. Though the future is uncertain, we must set aside the stress, the politics, and the controversy, and simply remember her as a human being. Having healthy conversations about the impact someone’s life left on the world is always an opportunity to reflect within ourselves and together as families about the kind of legacy we want to leave in this world.