Technology Tuesday: Headspace

A big part of the work we do at Daystar is coaching kids on how to calm their brains and bodies.  If a child is struggling with anxiety or anger, ADHD or depression, social struggles or strong emotions, learning to regulate is a foundational skill. We teach kids how to get from their “Dinosaur Brain” back to their thinking brain - the part of the brain that allows us all to manage emotions and think rationally.

Learning this allows kids to navigate test anxiety, homework hurdles, sibling rivalry, friendship struggles, game day jitters…

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Technology Tuesday: Bendy and the Ink Machine

The primary reason we have Technology Tuesday’s is to keep you educated. The kids keep us educated, when it comes to technology. We’re often behind the 8 ball…much to our dismay, and sadly, at times, to the detriment of the kids we love. Just this week, we received an email from a dear friend who is a counselor at a school, to tell us of the latest game she’s been hearing kids talk about at her school.

The name of the game is Bendy and the Ink Machine. It looks harmless enough…as so many of them do. It’s available as a game for almost every platform out there—from iOS to Android to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and, basically, wherever your child…

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Technology Tuesday: The Open Door Sisterhood Podcast - Healthy Parenting

David recently had the privilege of being a guest on The Open Door Sisterhood podcast with “longtime friends and authors” Krista Gilbert and Alexandra Kuykendall. Here’s what they had to say about the episode.

“Is parenting in this day and age difficult? Well, let’s start with the statistic that, currently, in the U.S. we have the highest numbers of anxiety in kids than any other time in history. Anxiety, along with depression are at a peak point. According to the CDC, the suicide rate is triple what it was in 2000. Substance abuse? Loneliness? All on the rise...

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Family Experiment: Cell Phones

Those of you who follow us know we enjoy a good “family experiment” -something you can do together with your kids, that supports connection, generates conversation and develops critical thinking. 

Here’s a short video to watch with your kids who have a cell phone.  Have some conversation after you watch the video, and be sure to listen for what your kids have to say before you share your opinion or observations.   

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Technology Tuesday: A Boy and his Video Games

We love introducing you to our amazing staff at Daystar.  We happen to believe we work with the most talented, invested, passionate group of folks, who have such a heart for kids and families. They are a huge part of why we love the work we do so much.  Getting to work alongside such amazing people (and dogs!) makes the meaningful work we do even more extraordinary. Today we’re excited to introduce you to Alex Hopkins.  Alex does amazing work with boys of all ages. One of his many talents includes integrating play therapy into the work he does with children and families.  He sees boys on an individual basis, and leads some wonderful groups with elementary aged boys all the way through high school.  

Today he shares some needed thoughts on navigating the world of video games, and some insight on what gaming accomplishes for boys…

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Technology Tuesday: Are Teens Who Spend Less Time In Front of Screens Happier?

We’ve long suspected there to be a correlation between screen use and happiness.  We now have our hands on even more data to confirm an adolescent’s psychological well-being decreases the more hours they spend on screens.   The newest findings align with previous studies linking frequent screen use to teenage anxiety and depression.  

We’d strongly recommend you spend a few minutes reading about the findings from this recent study.  Take a close look at…

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Technology Tuesday: Vaping, Juuling and Why Many Schools Have Banned Flash Drives

Vaping and Juuling are some of the more trendy practices in adolescent culture today.  The acceleration of vaping was highlighted in a 2016 report from the US surgeon general, citing a 900% increase in e-cigarette use by high school students from 2011-2015.  Another survey revealed that 1.7 million high school students reported having used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days.  

A teenaged boy recently reported to me “my dad knows teenagers are going to drink and smoke, he just wants me to do it responsibly.”  I was grieved to hear this boy’s father had set the bar so low for him...

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Technology Tuesday: Taming the Technology Monster

For several years now, Sissy Goff has been teaching a class called "Taming the Technology Monster."  She’s been passing along important information to parents about raising digital natives.   Daily we sit with parents who comment that managing, overseeing and safeguarding technology is one of the biggest hurdles they face on a daily basis.

Sissy has put the valuable information from this class into a booklet highlighting 8 important principles for parents to circle around.  You can get this book…

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Technology Tuesday: Doki Doki Literature Club

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Really.  It’s called Doki Doki Literature Club.  It took me three times to get the name right when a girl I was counseling mentioned it to me.  And, even though you might not be familiar with it, either, you want to pay attention if you’re a parent.  Kids watch videos of it on YouTube.  It was nominated for “trending game of the year” at the 2018 SXSW Gaming Awards (which are evidently a big deal in the gaming world).  But, what you really need to know is that, in its first three months of release, it was downloaded over one million times, and exceeded two million downloads about a month later (according to Wikipedia).  And that kids are talking about it.  

At first glance, Doki Doki Literature Club appears to be a lighthearted dating simulator, but is actually a psychological horror game.  The game opens with a warning: “This game is not suitable for children or those who are easily disturbed,” and then has an intro similar to your kids’ favorite cartoon.  The girl characters talk about “valuing happiness”, “finding comfort in the world of books,” and being “deceivingly cute girl with an assertive punch.”  Sounds harmless enough.  It’s about a male high school student who joins the literature club, which is made up of these four female students.  

As a player, you interact with the other characters, with the feeling that you’re controlling the action.  But, in reality, you aren’t.  And things turn very dark fairly quickly.  There are themes of depression, rape, abuse, and suicide.  A website called kotaku.com, discusses the plotline and the evolution of a character named Sayori.  “By the time Sayori tells the player character that she’s severely depressed, she’s clearly teetering on the edge of a breakdown, tearfully confessing her love for the player character. Even if you say that you love her back, her mood doesn’t improve. In fact, her inability to be happy that her crush is reciprocated makes her even sadder.”  

The game contains optional endings.  In one ending, one of the members stabs herself to death, and another finishes the game sitting beside her dead body.  In another ending, another member takes her life.  And, even adult game reviewers talk about how frightening and disturbing the game is.  On Polygon.com, a reviewers says, “As I crawled into this “second run,” I wasn’t just horrified; I was mentally trapped in the game's world and its antics. But I still wanted to dive back in, and I spent time with myself to understand what I had to overcome in order to continue the game. In the process, I realized how Doki Doki Literature Club utilizes an underrated aspect of the horror experience: control, or the lack thereof.”

And this is a game the kids we love are playing.  As always, we want to safeguard our kids online.  We want to play the games they’re downloading first.  Make sure we have parental controls set up, so we know what they’re watching.  And we want to have conversations about the dangers of even seemingly innocent content.  

I read one website that said that The First Rule of Doki Doki Literature Club is not to talk about Doki Doki Literature Club.  We don’t want the kids we love to have that rule about this game, or any other trend that catches their technologically hungry eyes.  For more information on how to help, you can grab a copy of Taming the Technology Monster.  And follow along with us for more information on Technology Tuesday’s about what kids are watching (and playing and posting) and what we can do to help.

Technology Tuesday: YouTube, Logan Paul, and the Allure of Suicide

Suicide has become an increasingly popular topic in our counseling offices.  More kids than ever are talking about it, in one way or another.  Tragically, exponentially more kids are talking about ending their lives.  Many of these kids are genuinely contemplating suicide as an option.  And, as always, if you ever hear your child mention it or seen any reference your child has written about suicide, in person or on social media, our recommendation is always the same:  take them directly to the hospital…

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Technology Tuesday: Safeguarding Your Kids on YouTube

Every time we speak on technology, we’re asked about YouTube.  Kids of all ages are investing significant amounts of time and energy on this platform, watching everything from cartoons to comedy sketches to vlogs to other kids playing video games.  It’s hard to know how to protect kids…and sometimes hard to know what you might be protecting them from.

Thankfully, there is a version of YouTube called YouTube kids, with built in protections.  But we wanted to give you a little more information on some additional ways you can safeguard your little ones.  And, in a couple of weeks, we’ll be posting some important information regarding YouTube and the teenagers you love…

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Happy Summer!

Happy Summer!  

For this Technology Tuesday, we’re wanting to let you in on where we’re heading these days with Raising Boys and Girls' technology! You may have noticed that we’re purposefully trying not to flood your inbox with emails.  But, we’re also trying to put out as much helpful information as we can on social media these days.  We put up activities we think might help you and your kiddos, quotes we think might inspire you, and try to lighten…

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Technology Tuesday: 13 Reasons Why All Over Again

Season 2 was just announced.  It will be released on Netflix on May 18.  The preview is every bit as provocative looking as the past season, shrouded in mystery and Polaroid photos.  These folks know how to bring their A game with all of the best teenage-angst/alluring/trendy means possible to build hype for this show that took the teenage world by storm last spring.  

In case you missed it, 13 Reasons Why was the television show we heard more kids talking about in our offices than any other show in 2017…

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Technology Tuesday: Fortnite: Your Son’s Latest Obsession

A day doesn’t go by where I don’t hear something about Fortnite.  It’s the game the majority of boys (of all ages) seem to be talking about these days.  It was something completely different a year ago, and chances are good it will be something completely different a year from now.  But for today, it’s Fortnite.  Though it’s rated “T” for Teen, many parents of younger boys are allowing boys to explore it.  

Many parents have compromised because of it’s cartoonish nature, or the lack of profanity or blood.   There are sites and commentaries arguing the advantages of strategic thinking, teamwork and creativity.  Equally so, there are sites and commentaries arguing...

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Technology Tuesday: Spring Break Technology Sabbath

Whenever we speak about technology to parents, we stress the importance of taking Technology Sabbaths...  If we’re going to teach the kids we love to unplug, we need to do so, as well.  We have families at Daystar who are taking technology-free spring breaks…or even a day or two technology-free on their spring breaks.  We also have parents who purposely go on trips where WiFi isn’t available or doesn’t work so well…might just be a thought for future family trips!

I was with a group of high school girls this week talking about their spring breaks, and the subject of social media came up.  They quickly started talking about how hard it can be, seeing all the photos of friends in glamorous locations, often together, and looking perfectly...

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