“It’s this app that basically tells you how pretty you are.” Ugh. Here we go again. The Technology Monster is rearing its ugly, critical head. Several of the high school girls in my group recently started talking about an app that rates their attractiveness. They’re honestly all over app stores. They’re called everything from Beauty Score to Ugly Meter, and, of course, they’ve caught on with adolescent girls. They basically use an algorithm that bases on attractiveness on a mathematical equation called the “golden ratio” that defines perfect proportions. It scans a user’s face or photo, and then rates that person based on the proportion and placement of…Read More
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…Read More
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.
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…Read More
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…Read More
Are you doing your best to keep up with your kids’ texts, but only able to understand a word or two inserted in between cryptic emojis? Welcome to the world of teenagers today. They use Acronyms and Emojis to communicate more than words these days. And, as typically happens, we’re often behind the 🎱
So, I sat with some teenage girls recently to decode their codes. I asked them about the slang words they’re using lately, the acronyms, and the emojis. Buckle up for their answers…Read More
Welcome to a house party in a whole new way! It’s the new app teenagers have been talking about in my counseling office. Basically, it’s an app where you can video chat with up to 8 friends at once. As a side note, while video chatting 8 friends, you can text one (or several) friends in particular. It’s enough to make your over-30 year-old head spin…but not theirs!
House Party can be an innocent way to connect with multiple friends at once. But, as always, we want to be educated, as adults, and help the kids we love be informed. The primary concerns about the House Party app...Read More
Technology Tuesday’s are our commitment to let you know the latest trends affecting the kids we love as soon as we hear—particularly, those apps we believe you should be concerned about. The latest of those is “Yellow.” It’s referred to as “Tinder for teenagers,” which is currently one of the most popular dating apps, designed for adults (but, of course, now being used by teenagers, too).
On the App Store, Yellow boasts “more than 7 million users are making new friends everyday on Yellow! Join the community right now. Yellow is an easy and free way to make new friends and chat with them.” Yellow offers the ability...Read More
“I only have like 10 streaks going, but a lot of my friends have 30.”
A middle school girl went on to describe a Snapchat “streak” to me in my office this week. By her definition, a streak is when you snapchat each other every day for a given number of days.
“Some people have streaks with 100 days. I know a girl who has a streak for 600 days with someone. Basically, if you don’t have a streak going with someone, it means you don’t like them...”Read More
“I walked out of my bathroom yesterday, wrapped in a towel, only to hear my ten year-old yell, ‘I’m going live!’”.
“Going live” is now evidently the thing. This ten year-old was “going live” on Musical.ly, only to show her latest “slime” to her five followers, including grandparents and an aunt. “Going live” basically means live-streaming a video of you—doing whatever you want to do. People who follow you can click to watch and comment, unless you turn off the commenting feature. (And slime, by the way, is exactly what it sounds like). Facebook has a live component, as well as Instagram. In fact, TeenVogue recently did an article called “6 Tips for Instagram Live.” The article went on to say...Read More
Have you heard your child use the word “Finsta?” (I think regularly, if our grandparents were to sit in on a conversation with teenagers, they would be as confused as if someone were speaking a foreign language. Finsta…tweets…snaps…what are we talking about, anyway?).
So, here’s the story on finstas. A finsta is what it sounds like—or what it sounds like if you’re 15 and thinking this way—a fake Instagram account. (Get it…fake Insta?) I hear about them weekly now in my counseling office. Middle school girls tell me they have finstas with their very closest friends. “You know, there are pictures you only want your best friends to see—like things you think are funny...Read More
It’s amazing how easily our kids can find their way to content we don’t want them to see. We can’t say enough how important it is that we check out what they’re wanting to install on their phones and gadgets…and not just glance at, but really explore.
A mom came up to me at a recent conference warning me about an app called Monogram Lite. She said her daughter downloaded it and it appeared harmless. Basically, it’s an app that lets you put your monogram on different designs and images…Read More
“I wasn’t sure how I could help, but what I really wanted to do was hug him.”
But not just hug—it was more like *hug*.
“What does the asterisk mean?”
“It’s when the role play starts. I wanted to hug him, so when I typed asterisks, it was like I virtually hugged him. And then things took a bad turn from there..."Read More
Tumblr. It’s pronounced tumbler…and it’s a website/now app that I hear of weekly in my office. Tumblr is an online blogging platform, and it’s one that many girls (and boys) use regularly. They post photos. They share about their lives, feelings, experiences. Sadly, they even share about their desire or experience with self-harm. Just a month ago, we received a call from a teenager telling us that she had read on another teenager’s Tumblr that he was having suicidal thoughts.
For many kids, Tumblr gives them a much-needed creative outlet. I counsel one high school girl who is writing her own devotionals and inspirational stories on her Tumblr, for her followers to read. I went on her site to check it out and was inspired myself. But, I am more often hearing stories like the call we received about the suicidal boy...Read More
A lot of attention has been given by the media recently for what are referred to as secret mobile apps. They’re apps like Snapchat and Whatsapp, where pictures and texts disappear after being seen. But they’re also apps in which users can hide photos and messages. And they’re tricky to find.
One such app is called Private Photo (Calculator%). According to the iTunes store, “Private Photo (Calculator%) app is private photos and videos hidden behind calculator...Read More
Wherever adolescents are, there’s going to be drama. Let’s be careful not to add to the drama. Check out this great reminder from the wise folks at Common Sense Media on 3 Kinds of Apps that Sir up Drama in Schools.
If your kid is among the 73% of teens who have access to a smartphone, you're well aware of the app obsession that can take over a brain and body in seconds. Multiply that by the average student population at your middle or high school, and you see the problem many schools are facing this back-to-school season. For teens, smartphones + apps = social networking. And where there's social networking, there's sure to be drama...
Regardless of how tech-savvy we are, there is no doubt that technology plays a large role in our lives – and in our children’s lives. Whole new vistas of knowledge, understanding, and ideas are open to them via quality sites on the Internet. But all this potential and wonder also comes with a necessary responsibility on the part of the technology user. We parents play the most pivotal role...Read More
“It’s a horror game.”
I have to admit that I’ve never heard of a horror game. I didn’t even know they existed, but I have increasingly been hearing kids talk about a game called Five Nights at Freddy’s.
The ten year-old girl who told me and showed me some of the graphics from the game went on to say, “At the end, you start having hallucinations cause you don’t have the frontal lobe of your brain anymore.” I asked her how she learned what a frontal lobe was and her quick response was, “from the game, of course..."Read More
When should I give my child a cell phone?
How do I teach my child to honor my rules at a friend's house?
How do I give my older kids more freedom but keep them safe?
On this episode of The Chat, Sissy & David join their friend, Priscilla Shirer, again to talk about anxiety, technology, and to answer parenting questions from the studio audience. Join them…and join Priscilla for her powerful new movie, The War Room!
“It’s the ultimate going out on the dock.” When our summer staff went to see the movie Paper Towns after our last camp, two of them whispered these words to me.
“Going out on the dock” is a phrase I use regularly with the girls at Daystar. It originated from a friend who told me a story about her own growing up. In high school, she went on several lake retreats with her youth group. At night, they’d be meeting in the house or just sitting around talking. Any time she felt a little lost or lonely, she’d wander out onto the dock. Secretly, she was hoping someone would notice and follow her out, to see if she was okay.
That action…and feeling has become our buzzword for someone who pulls away trying to draw others in…to put it a little more bluntly, to get attention.