08.21.17

Hi! I am praying for you right now! 
 
I know most of you are super busy right now (training and kicking off your classes…) so please be praying for one another!!!! 

 
Daily Prayer Email: Please send ALL prayer requests for your class to: studentcbsprayer@gmail.com
 
 
Quotes:
The power that raised Christ from the grave is the power that resurrects hope in our hearts. #lucado
 
Without the gospel we hate ourselves instead of our sin. #keller
 
The only way into the presence of God is from where you really are — not from where you wish you were. #furtick
 
Until Jesus is enough for you, no person or thing will ever be. #furtick
 
 
FYI:
4. Six Prayers to Pray for Students as School begins… (below)
 
Here is what I just posted on the blogwww.studentcbsblog.org 
 
How Gen Z is Changing Television as We Know It by Dale Hudson
New Survey: Millennials Learn More from Technology Than from People by Tim Elmore
Real vs. Fake Relationships by Leneita Fix (I have been reading so much about this lately… good for us to help them navigate.)
Four Gifts Every Student Needs From You This Year by Tim Elmore

Here are 2 video links I think you might like to see:

 
 
Here are 2 just for you:
 
God’s Leaders Have a Higher Standard

 

Priests… must be holy to their God and must not profane the name of their God. Because they present the offerings made to the LORD by fire, the food of their God, they are to be holy.   Leviticus 21:6

Ministers of the Gospel submit to a higher standard and answer to a holy authority. There is something special and fearful about being a vocational servant of Jesus Christ. This is not a role to be undertaken lightly or to be chosen casually, as some secular career paths. God places eternal expectations on priests, pastors, and ministry leaders. Leaders in the church have the Lord as their baseline for behavior. Deviant behavior is unacceptable for those who lead on behalf of the Lord. 

The leader’s character is his greatest asset. Someone cannot determine acceptable behavior based on what he wants when the Bible and church history have already defined the standard. How hypocritical and foolish to think leaders can flaunt immoral behavior when church members are disciplined for the same sin. Double standards may be for the uninformed and the unaccountable, but not for faithful and educated followers of Christ. How surreal to need to declare that character in the church matters! A church or ministry leader cannot practice immoral living and still lead the Bride of Christ. They cannot practice homosexuality, adultery, stealing, or lying. They cannot practice unfaithfulness in any of its destructive forms. 

“An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly o the trustworthy message as it has been taught so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:6-9).

There is a holy obligation for leaders to model and teach holy living as defined in God’s Word. Holiness is not a creation of culture but defined by God. Leaders of God’s church and ministry are to be holy as He is holy. Therefore, you can’t say you are a leader on behalf of Jesus Christ if you embrace and endorse the very sin for which He died on the cross. It would be the epitome of hypocrisy to do so. . 

Holy leaders do make people thirsty for God. They shine their light of holy living on the Lord. Embrace His higher standard, and expect the same of your church and ministry leaders. Elect men and women of the cloth who behave biblically, whose character aligns with Christ’s, and who model faithfulness, not perfection. They are not conformed to this world but transformed by God’s truth. 

The Bible is clear: “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:2-3).

The Brave Friendship of God

 

Oh, the bravery of God in trusting us! Do you say, “But He has been unwise to choose me, because there is nothing good in me and I have no value”? That is exactly why He chose you. As long as you think that you are of value to Him He cannot choose you, because you have purposes of your own to serve. But if you will allow Him to take you to the end of your own self-sufficiency, then He can choose you to go with Him “to Jerusalem” (Luke 18:31). And that will mean the fulfillment of purposes which He does not discuss with you.

We tend to say that because a person has natural ability, he will make a good Christian. It is not a matter of our equipment, but a matter of our poverty; not of what we bring with us, but of what God puts into us; not a matter of natural virtues, of strength of character, of knowledge, or of experience— all of that is of no avail in this concern. The only thing of value is being taken into the compelling purpose of God and being made His friends (see 1 Corinthians 1:26-31). God’s friendship is with people who know their poverty. He can accomplish nothing with the person who thinks that he is of use to God. As Christians we are not here for our own purpose at all— we are here for the purpose of God, and the two are not the same. We do not know what God’s compelling purpose is, but whatever happens, we must maintain our relationship with Him. We must never allow anything to damage our relationship with God, but if something does damage it, we must take the time to make it right again. The most important aspect of Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the surrounding influence and qualities produced by that relationship. That is all God asks us to give our attention to, and it is the one thing that is continually under attack.

Six Prayers to Pray for Students as School Begins

Like many other families, we are trudging back into school this week after a great summer. For our part, our kids seem neither despondent nor over the moon, but somewhere in the middle. They’ve had a great summer, but they’re also ready for a change, and ready to get onto the new possibilities this year in school will bring. So here they come – a rising 7th grader, 5th grader, and 2nd grader.

Here are some of the prayers we are praying for them as they begin this year:

1. Free these children from the idol of popularity.

Oh, how seductive is this idol. I still feel the pain of knowing when someone doesn’t think well of me for some reason, and even as an adult I feel the tug toward compromise if it means being well-liked. Even while feeling that temptation, I remember well the intense desire to be invited to the right lunch table or the best birthday party. I’m praying that our kids would, by God’s grace, find their worth and identity in Jesus rather than in the “likes” they receive from others.

2. Guard their hearts from materialism.

It’s inevitable that kids are going to come in contact with others who have different brands of clothing, whose parents drive different cars, and who live in different sized houses. The love of money is fostered and nurtured from a very young age, most of the time through comparison with others. We are praying that the Lord would guard these growing hearts from this and instead would help them to learn a sense of gospel-centered contentment in any situation.

3. Help them see our home as a safe place.

In classes, on the court, in the band, and most other places the kids will encounter a spirit of competition in which they will not only be tempted, but encouraged to be the best, whatever that means in that particular environment. But, please Lord, may our home be a safe place. Help them to see that at home, they can be themselves, with all their insecurities, fears, and hurts they could never show somewhere else lest they be considered weak.

4. Create in them a desire to communicate.

“Fine.” That’s the dreaded, but common, answer that often comes when a parent asks their children about their day. We continue to pray that our kids would go past this stock answer – that they would communicate honestly with us about the real things that are going on in their lives. We continue to pray that, because our home is safe, our children will confide in us the things they aren’t willing or able to say anywhere else.

5. Teach them perseverance through their studies.

With each grade jump, the homework seems to grow more and more intense. While I’m still able to help our second grader with his math, our seventh grader has moved beyond my capacity. That’s a difficult thing for me, but it’s an opportunity for them to learn a greater lesson for life. The perseverance to keep at it, though it means hard work, will prove (I think) even more valuable in the years to come than their mastery of the quadratic formula.

6. Help them understand more deeply the greater purpose of education.

I remember the tunnel-vision of the teenage years, how you can only focus on what is immediately relevant to you at a given moment. Those were the days when life seemed to begin and end with each test or game or whatever. But in education, as with all things, there is a greater purpose for those who know Jesus. That greater purpose is to honor God through stewarding the resources He’s given us, including our brainpower. Education is a means to love the Lord our God in yet another way and glorify Him through the effort we bring to the task in front of us. We are praying that God would, by His grace, begin to expand our children’s vision for this greater purpose.

These are not the only prayers to pray as this school year begins, but it’s a start. And while we’re on the subject of prayer, here’s an extra one that I’m praying for myself and my wife as we get going in another fall:

Help us, Lord, to represent your kindness, compassion, discipline, and forgiveness that you perfectly display in the gospel through the way we parent our children.

May it be so, Lord.

Blessings, Kendall

08.21.17

New Survey: Millennials Learn More from Technology Than from People by Tim Elmore

growingleaders.com

In June of 2017, our organization, Growing Leaders, collaborated with Harris Poll to conduct a survey and discover the perspectives of various generations in the U.S. The survey looked at how different generations feel prepared for adult life; whether they had/have an adult mentor preparing them for adulthood; how overwhelmed they are by daily life and the role technology plays in learning.

The survey was conducted online by Harris Poll from June 28-30, 2017 among 2,264 U.S. adults, ages 18 and older. Some of the results were quite profound.

  • 70% of U.S. adults say children growing up today will not be ready for adult life (i.e., life after graduation from school).
  • 2 in 3 U.S. adults (66%) say that when they were in their teens, they had an older adult (other than a parent) who positively impacted their life. Baby Boomers age 65+ (59%) are significantly less likely to agree with this than all other age groups, but particularly Millennials age 18-34 (71%).
  • Nearly 3 in 5 U.S. adults (58%) say they learn more information from technology than from people. Millennials age 18-34 (69%) are significantly more likely to agree with this than those ages 45+ (50%).

So, let’s interpret what these numbers seem to be telling us.

First, while all generations agree that we need adult mentors to help us prepare for life and leadership, the youngest generation surveyed says they learn more from technology than they do from people. So, seasoned veterans either need to:

a. Find a way to connect with the younger generation online and invest in them via a screen—since it is their natural habitat. In this option, we discover ways to redeem social media for constructive purposes.

b. Encourage them to meet face to face, believing some skills or qualities are better cultivated that way than on a screen. Hence, we give them what they need—not necessarily what they want.

If we believe there are soft skills (employability skills) that cannot genuinely be learned and practiced on a screen, we must engage our young adults in meaningful conversation and experiences that convince them of this as well. This means we have to be more than “talking heads” downloading information to students. We must create environments that magnetically attract the young and coach them. While 7 in 10 Millennials say they have an adult in their life, screen time still prevails, and they don’t feel ready for the leap from backpack to briefcase.

Here is another takeaway from the survey.

A large percentage of respondents regularly feel overwhelmed with everything going on in their daily life. However, the generational difference is substantial with 59 percent of Millennials significantly more likely to agree with this statement than those age 45+, at 32 percent. In short, the younger the person, the more likely they are to feel overwhelmed by everyday life.

As I dug through the findings, a conclusion came to light. At least so far, content on a screen has failed to prevent a person from angst, or feeling overwhelmed. In fact, quite the opposite. The more time we spend on screens, the more likely we are to feel overwhelmed by the information. There is a direct parallel between the rise in social media and the rise in anxiety among adolescents and twenty-somethings.

My Conclusions

The findings indicate to me that the need of the hour is face-to-face mentors. Real-life experiences, not virtual ones. Genuine relationships, not social media connections. Authentic conversations full of transparency and trust, not Tweets or Snapchat videos condensed to a few sentences. We need depth—not breadth.

Emory professor and author Mark Bauerlein recently said something that may explain a phenomenon in America today: “Students spend less discretionary time with adults than in former generations. They have never been so present with each other (online) than they are today.”

In times past, one chief element that prepared students to move from graduation to their career was the time they spent with adults who, in many ways, apprenticed them for adulthood. This would include educators, family members, coaches and employers. This survey indicates many Americans wonder if that’s working anymore.

Today almost one-half of the world’s population is 21 years old or younger, and they’re poised to lead our world into the future. This survey tells us we, as a society, have progressed into a new reality. Most of us don’t believe kids will be ready for adulthood when it arrives. Our young people don’t need us for information, but they need us for interpretation. Adults must find a way to pass on timeless values and principles our young will need, regardless of the complex world in which they live.

08.14.17

The One Thing That is More Important Than Your Reputation by Tim Elmore

growingleaders.com

For years, educators, employers and parents have told our young adults to build their personal brand. Now that folks can do this on-line, it’s become the pursuit of millions of 20-something Millennials and teens from Generation Z. Every young person wants people to recognize and follow their “brand.”

However, because our personal brand can be constructed through an inaccurate persona we post on social media platforms, I am concerned our students have received the wrong message. They are in a hunt to build a “reputation,” but they are building it on an insecure foundation.

This is a subtle shift from the past, but an important one.

While I believe our reputation is vital in a community (a school campus, a club, a company or with our social media followers), it is an outcome that can be achieved artificially with little or no substance. I have never seen so many young people pursue “image management” as I do today. Unfortunately, our young people have learned this from their elders. After all, most of the outcomes we’ve put on them are external (like grades, behavior, or athletic performance), not internal.

Our Culture’s Push to Create a Reputation

Coach John Wooden always said, “Your reputation is who people think you are; your character is who you really are.”

I have seen this quote illustrated countless times. It takes the form of a college student who works tirelessly on his or her reputation but has very questionable character. When people discover who they really are (which eventually happens in time), the truth is a letdown and their social media reputation eventually catches up to reality. The resume they padded, the Instagram account they set up, the website they built, the social media messages they sent—all lose meaning. In short, people discover our true integrity via intimacy. When our integrity is sketchy, intimacy is lost and reputation sinks.

Once again, it’s a let down.

Author Donald Miller echoes this when he says, “People don’t judge who we are, they judge who we’ve led them to believe we are. The more time and effort we put into making ourselves look great, the longer and harder the fall when the truth comes out. And eventually the truth comes out.”

My Resolve to Change Pursuits

Over the years, I have decided to ditch working on my “reputation” and work on my “reality.” In other words, my integrity is the key to solidify how others view me. Remember, the term “integrity” simply means “one” or “whole.” In math, an integer is a single digit. When I have integrity it doesn’t mean I’m a perfect leader. It means what I say and what I do are the same. I am transparent about who I am. It’s the opposite of hypocrisy. As I work on my character my reputation takes care of itself, because I am not pretending to be anyone other than who I really am.

At Growing Leaders, I air much of my dirty laundry to my team and we laugh at my humanity. As a Type 1 diabetic, they’ve all seen my vulnerabilities, when my blood sugars go low and I can’t think straight for a bit. They’ve seen my weaknesses because I disclose them. I ask for help. I don’t merely hide behind my strengths. We talk through the glaring mistakes we all make so there are no “elephants in the room.” The phrase I often use with our team is: Let’s take our mission seriously, but let’s not take ourselves too seriously. This doesn’t mean I am not serious about building my character, it simply means I am authentic in the process.

Integrity beats image. Character beats reputation.

So, let’s allow our reputation be an outcome, not a pursuit. Let’s work on our character and not on our image. When others judge us, let’s not react, but stay steady, developing a robust character that will cause others to not believe any gossip about us and hence, maintain our solid reputation.

Consider this statement Donald Miller makes: “People only judge those who claim to be better than others…more righteous, more moral. When I’m ethical, I just look good. When somebody who works on their reputation isn’t ethical, they find themselves in social court. Working on our reputation is just a dumb move.”

Axioms to Live By:

1. To the degree I pretend, I lose a proportionate amount of intimacy. I can’t be close to someone if there is pretense. Intimacy demands transparency.

2. When I focus on reputation, I turn life into a game or contest and keep others at arm’s length. I wear myself out keeping score on both me and others.

3. When I’m caught up in my image, I must remember all the white lies I’ve told, which becomes laborious in relationships. We can forget who we really are.

4. When my pursuit is an amazing reputation, I can be prone to distort, deceive, or exaggerate my stories or descriptions. The end justifies the means.

5. When I am proactive about my lifestyle, and live by principles, most of my reputation and image issues take care of themselves.

Abraham Lincoln said, “Character is like a tree and reputation is like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it, the tree is the real thing.”

08.07.17

Hi! Happy August!! I am praying for you right now! 

Daily Prayer Email: Please send ALL prayer requests for your class to: studentcbsprayer@gmail.com
 
Quotes:
Complaining is like throwing up. Afterwards, you feel better but then everyone around you feels sick. #gordon
 
A happy person is not a person with a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes. #Downs
 
When the enemy points to everything I’m not, I point to everything God is. #furtick
 
God’s grace is not just an addition to our life. It’s a contradiction to our life. #keller
 
As leaders, we are never responsible for filling anyone else’s cup. Our responsibility is to empty ours. #Stanley
 
 
FYI:
 
1. Top Questions to ask college students before they head to school… https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/blog/questions-college-students?utm_source=E-Journal+%2F+Parent+Update&utm_campaign=67215008f2-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_07_27&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e88a54a953-67215008f2-312895925&mc_cid=67215008f2&mc_eid=4cf06de2c7
 
2. Gen Z most diverse media users… http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2017/youth-movement-gen-z-boasts-the-largest-most-diverse-media-users-yet.html

3. How Living Counter-Culturally Can Lead to Your Kids’ Resentment of Christianity… http://christianmomthoughts.com/how-living-counter-culturally-can-lead-to-your-kids-resentment-of-christianity/

Here is what I just posted on the blogwww.studentcbsblog.org 
 
Addressing Sexuality With Teenagers by Michael Guyer
6 Tech Habits Changing the American Home  by Barca Group  
Do Christian Teens Really Believe in Jesus? by Group Magazine
One Act That Improves Kids’ Emotional Health by Tim Elmore
 

Here are 2 video links I think you might like to see:

I may have posted this years ago but it is absolutely awesome! Totally worth your time!!
 
 
 
Here are 2 just for you:
 
God’s Timing 
 
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.  Ecclesiastes 3:1
God’s timing can be frustrating, but it eventually leads to freedom. Perhaps you strongly desire something or someone. It is right at your fingertips but you can’t have it now and that frustrates you. The timing is not right, for whatever reason. It may not be right for you and/or it may not be right for the other person. However, you can allow this frustration to lead you to freedom.  
God may be protecting you from failure because you are not ready for the grueling responsibility that lies ahead. There are still valuable lessons to learn where you are. It’s like your last semester of school. You are way past ready for graduation, but there are still final exams to study for and pass. You need to do your best where you are before moving on to God’s next assignment.  
“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days”  (John 11:5-6).
Timing is everything. Your son really needs you right now during this challenging stage of his life. The insecurities of his teenage years are eating him alive. He needs extra attention and time from you to navigate through this uncertainty. This is a season, a season that will not be repeated. Your career can wait; children can’t. Yes, children are resilient and may not even say anything during difficult times, but you can rest assured that they will never forget that you were there for them. The security and confidence you sow into your children will stay with them for a lifetime. Your absence will stick with them as well. Fearful and insecure adults were once fearful and insecure children. So, allow this season of life to build bridges rather than barriers between you and your children. It is just for a moment in time. In the blink of an eye, they will be gone. 
 
Learn to celebrate various seasons of life. Do not resist them; embrace them. Join the wonder of their realities. The marriage of your adult child is imminent, so celebrate the occasion. Do not let the stress of the details and the outlay of cash rob you of the joy connected to this momentous occasion. You can rest in the fact that He has brought these two together. This is what you have prayed for concerning your child. You have prayed for a marriage into a God-fearing and Christ-honoring family. You have prepared them the best way you know how.
Ultimately it is in God’s hands. As the father and the mother of the bride or groom, learn how to let go and allow them to become one flesh. Your relationship will look different going forward. This is a new stage of life. So, do not try to control them. Let go of them and leave them in God’s hands. Your ability to adapt and adjust to new seasons of life has a direct correlation to your joy and happiness. God’s timing can be a surprise.  It is rarely early and never late.
Jesus understood this when He said to His mother, “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come” (John 2:4).
 
Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me the patience to wait on Your best and the humility to glorify You in the process, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
 

Why It’s Worth It

Ministry–let’s be real shall we–it isn’t always glorious. It isn’t always rewarding. It isn’t always easy.

You don’t usually hear that right out of Bible college or seminary. You hear just the opposite: You’re equipped! Thousands like you have gone before. Take the world by storm. Be Jesus to the masses.

Ministry is Hard

The reality is this: ministry is difficult, messy, full of broken people, and not about you. This can lead us to some very hard places. Places of doubt and anxiety. Feelings of am I good enough? We may question our calling and if it’s time to move on. 

I’ve been there. In fact, if I were completely honest, I’ve been there more times than I care to admit. I just walked through a period exactly like I described. Feelings of doubt. Questions of calling. Hurt. Depression. Worthlessness. Asking God why…

The truth is I questioned if I was to be in ministry after a very, very hard season. A season that saw much pain and grief. A season marked by a lack of affirmation, being moved without understanding why and wondering why we were leaving good students who we loved and cared for.

“God,” I cried out, “Why does it hurt?! Did You not call me to this? Why is there so much pain? Such heartache? Do you have a plan? Am I washed up?”

Many of you are or have been there. You question why. You wonder if you’re called. You take a break from ministry to heal and consider not going back. You cry…for hours, days, months…you’ve been there. I have too. 

But It’s Worth It

But in walking through this I have seen that it is worth it. That God has a plan. That ministry can and will get better. That there is light at the end of the very long tunnel. That we are called. That the enemy will try to use doubt, inadequacies, hurtful comments, critical natures, and rough patches to try to turn you from being God’s faithful servant.

Brothers and sisters hear me: we are CALLED according to God’s purpose, by the One who foreknew us, and is using us to accomplish His WORKMANSHIP! Ministry was never meant to be easy. We are called to a life of difficulty in ministering to a world that has turned its back on its Savior. There will be moments of SUFFERING, moments of FRACTURING, but also moments of GREAT JOY!

We do not do this for our own affirmation. We do not do this for notoriety. We do not do this to be the best friend of students or to be the most popular youth pastor. We do not do this to be liked or given gifts. We do not do this to be the center. We do this to point to the Center: our Savior.

My friends. My co-laborers. Know that ministry is hard, but it is worth it! We may not always see it on this side of eternity, but know that you can continue to serve because our rest and OUR REWARD IS IN HIM AND HIM ALONE. The author and perfecter of all things! It will get better, God will use you, lives will be changed, and God will say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” Ministry is worth it!

08.07.17

One Act That Improves Kids’ Emotional Health by Tim Elmore

growingleaders.com

This year, both parents and educators can do something about their students’ well-being and future success. The suggestion may sound so simple, we can miss it. After surveys in a variety of countries, however, one act (on the part of an adult) can move the needle for our kids’ emotional health. Are you ready for this?

“Spending time just talking,” the students said.

Hold on. Are you serious?

Yes, I am. A substantial amount of young people in industrialized nations around the world report that they feel “alone” as they face the pressure of exams, relational conflicts, bullying and other sources of angst. But ARE they alone? Most of us would swear they’re not alone, as we watch them spend the same number of hours online with peers as a full-time job would require. Yet—perception is reality.

Screens do not accomplish the same goals as face-to-face conversations.

According to a report from the BBC on Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, “about 11% of teenagers reported they were frequently mocked, 7% were ‘left out of things’, 8% were the subject of hurtful rumors and about 4 %—that is still roughly one per class—were being hit or pushed around.” In summary, the OECD report said, “A substantial number of young people feel isolated, humiliated, feel like an outsider at school or are physically assaulted.”

What Are They Worried About?

In fact, when we asked teens in our 2016 focus groups, the biggest sources of stress for students are likely predictable, but worthy of our notice:

  • Academic pressure (make the grades so I’ll be accepted at the right college)
  • Social angst (FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out; friends doing things without me)
  • Lost opportunities (FOLO – Fear of Living Offline; missed information)
  • Family problems (Conflict with parents or siblings)

What the BBC report suggests (and what our data confirms) is that students actually do want to talk about these sources of anxiety, but don’t know how. Adults often make things “cheesy” or “corny” or they begin “lecturing me on what to do.” In short, the dialogue turns into a monologue. The adult becomes “prescriptive” with their words, rather than sharing ownership of the topic with their student.

But check these realities out from the BBC report:

For educators: “On average across countries, students who reported that their teacher is willing to provide help and is interested in their learning are also about 1.3 times more likely to feel that they belong at school.”

For parents: “Spending time just talking” is the parental activity most frequently and most strongly associated with students’ life satisfaction. For instance, “girls whose parents encouraged them to be confident in their abilities were 21% less likely to report feeling tense about schoolwork.”

Some Simple Steps We Can Take

1. Make sure you eat together regularly.

While this is fast becoming obsolete in our hectic world, meals together spark not only trust, but satisfaction. I recall reading about a non-profit organization created to help families do meal conversations. Food somehow brings people together. While occupied with eating something, we feel safer and tend to open up and become more transparent. Meals together set you up to go deeper later.

2. Ask questions on meaningful topics they’re interested in.

When my kids were younger, I would choose a Habitude® once a week, and make it our guide to intriguing conversation. We’d choose an image (at times together) and found the “picture was worth a thousand words.” We discussed what movies they’d seen where the principle was practiced or violated. We discussed people they knew who embodied the principle. With little effort, these talks led to great outcomes.

3. Plan experiences that will spark dialogue.

We all know that trips, events, encounters and experiences lead to natural conversation. We like to talk about interesting things that happen to us. So why not create some? Plan experiences that are engaging and will lead to discussions. As my kids grew up we took overseas trips, we fed homeless people downtown, we sponsored several children from various African nations, we visited great companies and interviewed interesting leaders; you name it. We grew from it all.

4. Tell them what you see.

At the right time and in a safe place, communicate the potential you see in them, not just the reality they see in themselves today. Cast vision for the strengths you find evident and be specific in your description. Don’t tell them what they should do with it, but let them know they’re capable of more than they may currently imagine.

I will never forget my son’s facial expression, when at age 12, I first told him in a serious tone, “Jonathan—you have what it takes to be a man.” He stared at me for a moment with big eyes, pondering what I’d said. Then, he smiled. My words weren’t magic, but I felt they were necessary as I watched him second-guessing his choices. We all need someone we respect to relay words of empathy and direction.

The good news is, according to the BBC report, “Students with high levels of life satisfaction were significantly more likely to have parents who regularly spent time talking to them. Parents who sat around the table to eat their main meal with their children and talked about how they were doing at school also made a difference.”

These highly satisfied students also “tend to have greater resilience and are more tenacious in the face of academic challenges.”

Let’s start the conversation.

07.31.17

Adolescents in Crisis: Why We Need to Recover Religion by Paul Vitz and Bruce Buff
Nationalreview.com
With no belief in higher meaning, too many young people turn to hook-up sex, drugs, and social media for fulfillment.
Our teenagers and often those still younger are taking their lives in increasing numbers, many seemingly without warning. Many more young people are suffering from depression, anxiety, or related mental-health problems. The reports often link to social media: bullying leading to suicide; serious self-harm in an attempt to deal with emotional pain; suicide pacts; a widely cited post giving reasons for suicide by a child who killed herself; drug abuse and other destructive behaviors; school shootings that often end in suicide.
Other evidence of youthful mental-health problems: Pre-adult suicides are up three to five times (depending on the source) since the 1950s and still increasing. One study reported that 10 percent of the young are taking anti-depressants. In “Teen Depression and Anxiety: Why the Kids Are Not Alright,” Susanna Schrobsdorff  of Time magazine noted that “adolescents today have a reputation for being fragile, less resilient, and more overwhelmed than their parents growing up.” We are also seeing an increase in mental-health issues in college-age students. The average well-being of entering college students has been in decline since the 1970s, when the measuring began. During college years, mental-health problems are on the rise, according to recent studies.
Yet American society today is far better off economically than it was 50 years ago, and we have a better understanding of mental-health problems. Moreover, we now have a great many more psychiatrists, psychotherapists, counselors, and mental-health practitioners than we did even a generation ago. So what’s wrong — what has happened?
Schrobsdorff proposed that the cause for the decline is the social climate that teenagers experience. She attributes this climate to social media, smart phones, and school pressures. These factors are recent, though, and did not emerge until well after the observed decline of adolescent mental health.

A far stronger case can be made for our society’s decline in religious faith as the cause of these mental pathologies in the young. The decline in religion that began in the ’60s has accelerated in the past 15 years and is especially great among young people. A recent Pew report noted that over a third of its young respondents described themselves as “believers in nothing in particular.” Schrobsdorff’s omission of religious decline is one indication of how great the decline in religion has been — and how much our secular culture is in denial on the issue. The media just doesn’t “get” religion.

In America, the transcendent dimension of life has historically been expressed primarily through the Judeo-Christian tradition, whose decline in recent years has created an enormous vacuum in meaning. This vacuum has been “filled” by postmodern nihilism combined with the “deconstruction” — aggressively taught in the academy — of belief in objective truth, goodness, and beauty. Moral relativism now eclipses transcendent meaning. The fragility of many young people — often termed “snowflakes” — shows their emotional vulnerability. They interpret ideas that challenge them as unbearable acts of aggression, and they use harsh and even violent measures to silence disagreeable opponents. In short, the prevalence of political correctness is a clear sign that belief in higher meaning and rational discussion has ceased to function in much of our higher-education system. Furthermore, political correctness is itself a symptom of the unstable mental condition of those who insist on it.
Countless young people now live in a world without any real meaning; they feel there is nothing for them to believe in. Emotional numbness is one of the consequences. They no longer value themselves for their inherent worth and dignity as created by God; they no longer find self-worth in their efforts to lead lives based on truth and love. Instead, many of our young people look outside themselves for validation — to material goods and social feedback. But many find these superficial, transitory, and empty. In addition, the decline of religion has resulted in sexual relations becoming trivialized and deprived of any greater meaning. The “hook-up” culture leaves many wounded young people in its wake.
While the secular class and those victimized by their policies have been shedding their religious beliefs, evidence for the positive effects of religious life has been repeatedly reported by many studies over the past decades. Many of them show that strongly religious people are happier, healthier, and live longer than those with no religious belief and practice. Having faith in God and attributing a religious meaning to life anchors people, directs their efforts to things beyond the material world, protects them against setbacks, and provides supportive community.
What might be done to imrpovee mental health via religious practice? To begin, this is not a problem for government policy. The government just needs to get out of the way — and be less hostile to religion. Recent Supreme Court decisions dealing with religious issues suggest that this will happen.
Individuals can respond in many ways. Fathers and mothers can encourage their children in religious practice centered in family life and encourage them to join serious religious peer groups. Relatives — grandparents, aunts, and uncles — can give valuable advice. For young people drawn to atheism, many recent books address the topic brilliantly (see Alister McGrath’s Twilight of Atheism,for instance). Darwinism, materialism, and atheism have received powerful recent critiques (as in Thomas Nagel’s Mind and Cosmos, Stephen Meyer’s Darwin’s Doubt, and Robert Spitzer’s New Proofs for the Existence of God).
Religious and private schools can make a tremendous difference in their student communities by regularly emphasizing the importance of God and promoting faith.
Business leaders and others in the professions can speak out about their faith in public settings and implement new ideas about how to reach the young.
There have been times in America’s past when religion was in decline and seemed on the way out — especially according to its intellectual detractors. But at these moments, Biblical religion recovered with new movements and energies. We propose that we are now at the threshold of another such renewal. Let us pray so since our secular culture offers no credible reasons to believe in higher meaning. It offers only empty materialist distractions on a slow march to societal suicide. The plight of our young sounds a wake-up call we can no longer ignore.

07.17.17

When Pain is All You Have – Why Teenagers Cut Themselves by Jim Burns

homeword.com

17-year-old Lauren was despondent over breaking up with her boyfriend. She had never known pain so deep and lingering.

She tried to drown her sorrows in her favorite activities but nothing seemed to work. Even a trip to the movies turned sour when she noticed her former beau with his new girl watching the same film she was.

Trying to keep her composure but hurting just the same, she inadvertently yanked the tab off her soda can. Without much thought, she pressed its sharp edge deep into the flesh of her thumb.

The pain and the blood that followed unleashed what had been pent up inside of her since the relationship ended. But it also gave her something she had longed for all her life – a sense of control over her pain.

Within weeks, Lauren became a full-fledged self-injurer…a “cutter,” if you will. And though few statistics exist on the subject, it’s estimated that as many as 2 million Americans have been treated for some form of self-injury, cutting being the most common. Other common forms of self-mutilation include burning, bone-breaking, and hair-pulling.

As you might imagine, self-injurers don’t always come from stable, loving homes. It’s estimated that about 50% have a history of physical or sexual abuse. One 26-year-old woman said the physical pain she inflicted on herself helped her forget the pain of a childhood marred by sexual abuse.

In recent years, made-for-TV movies and popular television dramas about self-injury have brought this phenomenon to light. And in most, if not all of these storylines, the self-injurers were women. But, in reality, just over 70% are, most of those ranging in age from 11 to 26.

In years past, statistics would show that as many as 90% of those who “cut,” “burn,” or “pull” grew up in homes where communication between children and parents was severely lacking, and messy problems were ignored, avoided, and ultimately left in silence. Interestingly, those early statistics also showed that children of divorced parents are more likely to cut than children whose parents remain together even in a tense, difficult union. However, according to youth expert Ken Mueller, the practice has now become more mainstream and has reached fad status. In fact, Teen Vogue referred to cutting as “the new anorexia.”

Mueller writes, in an article for the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, “Like most other destructive behaviors, cutting has moved into the church, and many Christian teens are getting involved. Those behaviors that we have so neatly bookmarked as ‘of the world’ are finding their way into our homes at an alarming rate.” And that includes homes that are self-described by the cutter herself as happy, loving, Christian homes.

What’s the appeal? Cutting is, at its core, an unhealthy act of coping. Only sometimes is it associated with suicidal thoughts; rather, it’s a means of actually feeling something – anything. Beyond that emotional release, the act of self-injury gives a sense of control, as well as a physical satisfaction, as doctors note that cutting releases pleasurable endorphins.

Following is a set of facts about cutting, produced by S.A.F.E. (Self-Abuse Finally Ends) Alternatives and are reproduced here with their permission.

Self-Injury Facts
About Self-Injury: Self-Injurious behavior is defined as the deliberate, repetitive, impulsive, non-lethal harming of one’s self. Self-injury includes: 1) cutting; 2) scratching; 3) picking scabs or interfering with wound healing; 4) burning; 5) punching self or objects; 6) infecting oneself; 7) inserting objects in body openings; 8) bruising or breaking bones; 9) some forms of hair-pulling, as well as other various forms of bodily harm. The behaviors, which pose serious risks, may be symptoms of a mental health problem that can be treated.

Incidence & onset: Experts estimate the incidence of habitual self-injurers is nearly 1 % of the population, with a higher proportion of females than males. The typical onset of self-harming acts is at puberty. The behaviors often last for 5-10 years but can persist much longer without appropriate treatment.

Background of self-injurers: Though not exclusively, the person seeking treatment is usually from a middle to upper-class background, of average to high intelligence, and has low self-esteem. Nearly 50% report physical and/or sexual abuse during his or her childhood. Many report (as high as 90%), that they were discouraged from expressing emotions, particularly, anger and sadness.

Behavior patterns: Many who self-harm use multiple methods. Cutting arms or legs is the most common practice. Self-injurers may attempt to conceal the resultant scarring with clothing, and if discovered, often make excuses as to how an injury happened. A significant number are also struggling with eating disorders and alcohol or substance abuse problems. An estimated one-half to two-thirds of self-injurers have an eating disorder.

Reasons for behaviors: Self-injurers commonly report they feel empty inside, over or under stimulated, unable to express their feelings, lonely, not understood by others and fearful of intimate relationships and adult responsibilities. Self-injury is their way to cope with or relieve painful or hard-to-express feelings and is generally not a suicide attempt. But relief is temporary, and a self-destructive cycle often develops without proper treatment.

Dangers: Self-injurers often become desperate about their lack of self-control and the addictive-like nature of their acts, which may lead them to true suicide attempts. The self-injury behaviors may also cause more harm than intended, which could result in medical complications or death. Eating disorders and alcohol or substance abuse intensify the threats to the individual’s overall health and quality of life.

Diagnoses: The diagnosis for someone who self-injures can only be determined by a licensed psychiatric professional. Self-harm behavior can be a symptom of several psychiatric illnesses: Depression; Personality Disorders (esp. Borderline Personality Disorder); Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depression); Mood Disorders (esp. Major Depression and Anxiety Disorders); Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, as well as psychoses such as Schizophrenia.

Evaluation: If someone displays the signs and symptoms of self-injury, a mental health professional with self-injury expertise should be consulted. An evaluation or assessment is the first step, followed by a recommended course of treatment to prevent the self-destructive cycle from continuing.

Treatment: Self-injury treatment options include outpatient therapy, partial (6-12 hours a day) and inpatient hospitalization. When the behaviors interfere with daily living, such as employment and relationships, and are health or life-threatening, a specialized self-injury hospital program with an experienced staff is recommended.

The effective treatment of self-injury is most often a combination of medication, cognitive/behavioral therapy, and interpersonal therapy, supplemented by other treatment services as needed. Medication is often useful in the management of depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and the racing thoughts that may accompany self-injury. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps individuals understand and manage their destructive thoughts and behaviors. Contracts, journals, and behavior logs are useful tools for regaining self-control. Interpersonal therapy assists individuals in gaining insight and skills for the development and maintenance of relationships. Services for eating disorders, alcohol/substance abuse, trauma abuse, and family therapy should be readily available and integrated into treatment, depending on individual needs.

In addition to the above, successful courses of treatment are marked by:

1) patients who are actively involved in and committed to their treatment

2) aftercare plans with support for the patient’s new self-management skills and behaviors

3) collaboration with referring and other involved professionals.

If your child is cutting, or you know a child who is, there is no substitute for professional treatment from a caring, Christian counselor. You might consider contacting SAFE (Self-Abuse Finally Ends). You can call them toll-free at…1 – 800 – DON’T CUT (366 – 8288).

Contrary to conventional wisdom, time doesn’t heal all wounds. Self-injury leaves scars that last a lifetime. Only with God’s help will they ever fully heal!

06.19.17

Why Porn Might Bring Down This Generation of Young People and My Child Was Caught Viewing Porn! What Do I Do? by Jim Burns

homeword.org

Perhaps pornography, more than any other issue of today’s culture, has the greatest chance of bringing down the morals and values of this generation. Studies tell us that the greatest new users of pornography are twelve- to seventeen-year-old boys. The girls, however, are catching up. All the while, the multi-billion-dollar pornography industry is reaching into the souls of this generation and wreaking havoc. It is so powerful that it can snatch any kid in any house today.

A few years ago, a thirteen-year-old boy at our church was looking for a new baseball glove online. There used to be a large sporting-good chain in our area called Chicks Sporting Goods. We all called it “Chicks” for short. He innocently typed the word “Chicks” into a search engine, thinking he was going to find the store’s new baseball glove collection. What he found were pornography sites, and plenty of them. His first exposure to porn took him on a journey that caused him to daily, sometimes for hours at a time, look at awful porn. This was a good kid, from a strong family, with high morals, and he just got caught in the maze of porn addiction. When the family found out (they began to suspect something when he was on the computer in the middle of the night and his grades were dropping), they did the right thing and got their son help. However, that young boy will have thousands of vivid images stored in his brain and subconscious.

One of the many problems of viewing pornography is that your mind takes a picture of the image. And sadly, millions of young people today have very inappropriate images stored in their minds. Pornography is extremely addicting, and for many it can escalate. Here are the stages of pornography addiction progression:

  1. Viewing pornography
  2. Addiction
  3. Escalation
  4. Desensitization
  5. Act out sexually

In today’s world, kids cannot help but see very unhealthy sexual images. As parents, you can help your kids see the negative consequences of viewing pornography.

Information on the effects of porn is very prevalent today. Needless to say, pornography is fantasy. Fantasy and pornography are closely related links to sexual addiction. Pornography is a tool for going beyond reality, and, once used, it is difficult to live without. Sadly, sexual addiction among young people is growing, and for many, it becomes a strong obsessive compulsion similar to the intensity of alcohol, drug, and gambling addictions. Sexual addiction breaks families apart, causes people to view the opposite sex as objects, and tears at the very moral fiber of really good people.

The days are over when pornography was confined to a dark section of town at XXX-rated movie theaters. Pornography is distributed through what was once safe channels, like cable TV, bookstores, phones, and of course, the Internet. As parents, we must be intentional to counter this influence with love, example, and instruction. Otherwise, someone else will teach our children about pornography, and the visual aids they might use may be so enticing that they lure our kids into a fantasy world full of guilt, shame, and remorse. Pornography is not safe, and we can’t assume our kids will never be tempted. Being proactive, not “preachy” or panicked, is the best way to help your kids make healthy decisions about their viewing practices.

My Child Was Caught Viewing Porn! What Do I Do?

The shock, shame, and anger that first takes place when you stumble upon the fact that your child has viewed porn is understandably terrifying. Every parent hopes their child will live with sexual integrity, and when we hear the statistics of kids and porn it can be disheartening. Yes, the average age of a child viewing porn in the United States is age 11 and there isn’t a mother or father around whose heart doesn’t break when we hear that fact. So what do we do?

Here are 5 tips for handling the almost inevitable fact that your child will look at porn whether on purpose or even accidentally.

1. DON’T FREAK OUT

I know you may want to. Our natural reaction is to panic, but too much emotion or anger will only complicate the matter. So take a deep breath, and realize it is not the end of the world. Most kids who view pornography don’t become sex offenders.

2. MAKE THIS A TEACHABLE MOMENT

When you imagine the end for your kids, what you truly want is to help them develop a healthy, positive view of sexuality. Sometimes, one of the most effective ways to teach healthy sexuality is to help them understand that “it’s not that” (pornography), but “this”(God-honoring, positive sexuality). Use the poor choice of looking at porn as a positive opportunity to teach them the beauty of God-given sexuality and why we wait until marriage and adulthood.

3. CREATE CONSEQUENCES WITHIN REASON

If stumbling upon porn was truly accidental there should be no consequence; but if they chose to view a porn site then yes, developing boundaries with consequences for their actions is the right thing to do. But do it without shaming them, and create the consequences as a boundary to keep them from constant porn use and, more importantly, help them make better decisions. For the first offense, this might mean taking away a mobile device and adding a blocking filter along with regular monitoring by a parent or parents.

4. TEACH POSITIVE, HEALTHY SEXUALITY

The prescription for making better decisions about sex is for parents to proactively teach their kids healthy sexuality. All studies show the more positive healthy sex education is communicated in the home, the less promiscuous kids will be. So don’t just have one conversation. Make it an ongoing dialogue.  Sure there will be awkward moments. That’s okay, sexuality can be awkward. I write books on the subject, and my own kids have mocked me plenty of times for those ongoing conversations.

5. FIND HELPFUL RESOURCES

There are excellent resources to equip you to help your kids develop sexual integrity, and even in the area porn addiction. I always suggest you find Christian resources that stay true to your values to come alongside you. A few of my go-to websites are CovenantEyes.com, xxxChurch.com and of course HomeWord.com for “Pure Foundation Resources” for ages 3 to adult.

In this digital world, it is harder than ever to protect our kids’ eyes and minds. So start the conversation early and have it often.

06.12.17

How to Undo Our Biggest Mistake in Leading Students by Tim Elmore

growingleaders.com

Today, we hear from Andrew McPeak. Andrew is a next gen researcher, speaker, and author for Growing Leaders. 

I’ve been reading a lot about brains lately.

Did you know that our brains rewire themselves based on activity or inactivity? This can happen in a relatively short amount of time—just a few weeks, typically.

Did you know that “we take in the equivalent of about 174 newspapers’ worth of information, five times as much as we did in 1986?”

Did you know that, due to digital immersion, most of our brains don’t allow us to read from left to right? We skip around the page, looking for pertinent information.

Daniel J. Levitin of McGill University has been studying the traits of today’s typical brain and has found something pretty interesting. There are two “dominant modes of attention” according to Levitin. These modes are called the “task-positive network” and the “task-negative network.” The task-positive network is used “when you’re actively engaged in a task, focused on it, and undistracted.” It is something like what we would call “executive function.” The task-negative network is used “when your mind is wandering; this is the daydreaming mode.” These two networks act independently of one another and, in fact, cannot be active at the same time. They are “like a seesaw in the brain.”

Upon first glance, it would seem like our task-positive network would be the more helpful of the two, but this isn’t necessarily the case. While our task-positive network allows us to both stay on task and accomplish projects, it is our task-negative network that allows for creative thinking and problem-solving. In other words, when our minds are wandering we also find that our creative juices are flowing. Do all of your best ideas come to you in the bathroom? You now know why.

So what does this have to do with our students?

Stressed Out

Just the other week I sat down with a group of 9th grade students at a fairly large-sized school in the Midwest. During the focus group, I spoke with the students about the realities they are facing, the questions they are asking, and the problems they are seeing. When we got to the subject of stress level, I asked everyone to rate the level of stress they feel they are under by picking a number between 1 and 10. As I went around the room, only a couple were below a 6. Most were between 7 and 9, and in fact, one girl boldly diagnosed herself, “11!” Remember, these are 9th graders.

When I spoke with the students about the sources of their stress, the conversation always came back around to one problem: “I have a lot going on.” Many of these students skip school, to practice, to a social event only to get home at 9 or 10, without having even touched their homework.

To put this in Dr. Levitin’s terms: the requirements on a typical student’s time mean that they are often using task-positive brain function, but rarely, if ever, getting sustained periods of task-negative space for their minds to unwind. Instead, they get their task-negative time in short five-minute bursts as they check social media throughout the day.

Correcting Our Mistake

So, what is our biggest mistake? We’ve over-planned our student’s schedules. Our kids are doing too much.

Levitin’s research showed that the more often a person switches between these two modes in the brain, the more energy is being drained. “Every status update you read on Facebook, every tweet or text message you get from a friend, is competing for resources in your brain with important things.” Because we haven’t planned time for task-negative activity, our kids are stretched too thin. Should we be surprised to see that both stress and anxiety are on the rise?

Now before I go on, I understand that there is a problem with what I am saying. If you are a teacher and are held to standards beyond your control, then you may not have the luxury of deciding how much your students are doing. Maybe you can’t plan task-negative activities because you have too much to get done. If this is you, I encourage you to leverage whatever you have (even if it’s five minutes) to help with this problem. Don’t feel bad if you have to start small.

So, what can we do to right the ship? Levitin’s research suggests a few ideas:

  1. Schedule time for task-negative thinking. This is why having sustained periods of quiet throughout the day can be so helpful—especially for a student’s developing brain. Consider having intentional quiet time in your house for 30 minutes after your kids get home from school. Or set aside a period of time during the school day for quiet reflection.
  2. Organize their day into projects. The research shows that focusing on a single task for a sustained period of time, rather than jumping back and forth between tasks, can be very helpful. Maybe teachers can introduce a problem in the classroom on Monday and inform students that they will be working on this project all week during class. Perhaps parents could make sure their kids only have one primary focus each evening during the week. Parents might also plan a half-day on Saturday to focus on task-negative activity like hiking, swimming, or a going on a picnic.
  3. Let them listen to music. Many of our partners at schools across the nation say that students are constantly walking around with headphones. My guess is this is because their day is so stressful, they need an escape—something they can control. Music “turns out to be an effective method for improving attention, building up self-confidence, social skills and a sense of engagement.” Let them have a little time to unwind with their favorite song.
  4. Encourage them to take naps. While sleeping is frowned upon during the school day, the science behind naps is solid. Studies show that a “nap of even 10 minutes improved cognitive function and vigor, and decreased sleepiness and fatigue.” Parents, a nap right after school could be the difference between stress and peace for your kids. I met a teacher years ago who lets her students with difficult home lives take short naps in the morning, often because they didn’t sleep at all the night before. This might be a part of the wave of the future.

Tony Robbins once said, “One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.”

Let’s raise students who know how to direct their focus. We’ll need them to be focused adults in the future.

05.30.17

UNREAL by Marc Bain

qz.com

Instagram is the most harmful social network for your mental health

Our addictive feeds of fitness models, exotic travel, and photo-perfect moments don’t often match with our comparatively humdrum and badly lit lives. The discontent caused by that disconnect is enough that a growing body of research suggests social media is contributing to mental-health problems such as anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation, and body-image issues in young people, who are the heaviest users of social media.
And Instagram, which now has 700 million users globally, appears to be the social network having the greatest negative effect, according to a new report by the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), an independent charity focused on health education.
The report combines previously published research on the health impacts of social media with its own UK-wide survey of nearly 1,500 people between the ages of 14-24. To discover how respondents felt different social networks—Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, and Twitter—affected their health, both positively and negatively, it asked them about their feelings of anxiety, connection to a community, sense of identity, sleep, body image, and more.
Only YouTube had a net-positive effect among the respondents. Every other social network came back with a net-negative effect. (In order from least negative to most, they were: Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram.) Respondents rated Instagram in particular as having negative effects on anxiety and body image. One of the report’s authors told CNN that girls often compare themselves to unrealistic images that have been manipulated.
The report quotes one respondent as saying, “Instagram easily makes girls and women feel as if their bodies aren’t good enough as people add filters and edit their pictures in order for them to look ‘perfect.’”
Earlier research has found that the unrealistic expectations and “fear of missing out” created across our social feeds can lower self-esteem and fuel issues such as anxiety and depression. These issues are only compounded by cyber-bullying and lack of sleep, another harmful effect linked to social media. The report cites recent research published in the Journal of Youth Studies that found one in five young people say they wake up during the night to check messages, causing them to feel exhausted during the day.
The findings weren’t all bad. Nearly 70% of respondents reported that they received emotional support on social media when times were tough, and many said their accounts offered a forum for positive self-expression. They were also able to create and maintain relationships online.
The problems centered more on forgetting that what we see isn’t always reality, and the RSPH offered some recommendations based on its findings. For one, fashion brands, celebrities, and others should consider disclosing when their photos have been manipulated. It also suggested that social networks give users a pop-up warning if they exceed a certain time spent logged on. Social platforms might even identify users with possible mental health issues based on their usage and send a discreet message on where to get help.
Not least of all, the report said more research is needed into social media’s health effects. Social’s spread among younger generations is only growing. It’s too big a force not to consider the health consequences seriously.