The Selfishness of Digital Life ‘On Demand’

Today, we’re posting an article I wrote for Christianity Today’s website called Her.meneutics. I’m very encouraged by how people are responding to the ideas presented in Screens and Teens. Have you invested in yourself and kids you know by reading it yet? How about starting with these ideas?

Please consider reading this with teens and young adults and letting the ideas stimulate a discussion.

The Selfishness of Digital Life ‘On Demand’
By Dr. Kathy Koch for Christianity Today – Her.meneutics
March 2015

The use of technology can cause any of us to become self-centered. It’s so focused on the consumer! If you trawl online one afternoon for a certain kind of T-shirt or new boots, advertisers for T-shirts and boots will appear on your Facebook news feed for weeks. When you buy a book on or borrow one via a library app, book suggestions will appear, tailored just for you based on your buying preferences and books that other people bought who also purchased the book you did. That computer seems to know you and be conforming to your particular needs! The computer reinforces the untruth: It’s all about me!

Keep the Conversation Going – Download The Celebrate Kids App!

Dckappoutsideo you go to the Celebrate Kids Facebook page to get the question to ask kids each weekday? Many people do, and the feedback we have gotten is phenomenal! So much so, we’ve taken the questions, added a bunch more, and put them into an app you can download to your iOS (Apple) device. The new CK Questions app is a powerful way to keep the conversation going with your kids. You can use the questions in the car, at the dinner table, or as you go for a walk after dinner. You’ll be amazed at what you learn.

It’s free to download! Check it out. After you’ve used it a bit, please post a review to the app store. We would appreciate that. Don’t forget that we’ll keep posting different questions on Facebook as well.

Questioning Authority: Stop Dumbing Down Dad

Graphic Credit: Baby Blues for March 17, 2015. Click image to visit source.

Graphic Credit: Baby Blues for March 17, 2015. Click image to visit source.

Unless you live in isolation, you’ve probably noticed young people questioning authority more often than you might have at their age. As I address in chapter 7 of Screens and Teens: Connecting with Our Kids in a Wireless World, many of our youth struggle with authority for several reasons. This Baby Blues comic strip demonstrates one. (The strip’s messages are usually positive. They’re always relevant to our culture.)

The children are watching an old television show and laughing as they realize “the dad is the smart character.” But, look more closely at the strip. The mom/wife is laughing, too. What might the kids learn from her response?

I wish Baby Blues hadn’t further exposed the reality that media often writes men and dads as being dumb, out-of-touch, and often irrelevant. This just serves to give kids (and wives) permission to believe it’s true.

I’m not naïve. I know some dads aren’t engaged with their families. Therefore, they can come across as being out-of-touch and even stupid during some conversations and experiences. If dads read this comic strip, maybe it served to get them thinking. I’m sad if it made them doubt themselves if they have no reason to.

I know many people don’t read comics today. I still do – it’s part of my comfort time, reminding me of my childhood maybe. I realize more adults than kids may have seen the strip. It’s dangerous for adults, too.

What have you noticed lately that indicates we can behave as if we need no authority and/or can ignore authority or people in our lives? For instance, there’s a current television commercial advertising a device to improve people’s hearing. In it, the wife wearing the device keeps talking about how much it improved her hearing while she’s ignoring her husband who is trying to get her attention. She then states something about hearing what she wants to. She’s totally disrespecting her husband in this ad.

If I was watching this with kids, I’d have them pay attention to it and then discuss it as a teachable moment. Look for these opportunities. Be alert and discerning so you don’t get subtly sucked into believing authority is unnecessary and you need no one.

Dr. Kathy’s Discussion With FOTF’s “Plugged In” Blog

What do you think makes a significant difference in how children live their lives? How they live as adults? Do several possibilities come to mind? Good, because there are many things parents can do – and teachers and others, too.

A main source of excellence and a main way we pass our values on to kids is through conversations. By connecting. Listening. Talking. Observing. Questioning. Listening more. It’s both simple and complex.

That’s a main reason I wrote my new book, Screens and Teens: Connecting with Our Kids in a Wireless World. We must stay connected and screens can get in the way. Technology can become our focus, rather than each other.

The Culture Of Easy

Do you know children and/or young adults who want to be happy all the time? You probably do, even if they’ve never said that’s what they want.

Is complaining common? Criticizing normal? Do they make decisions and choices related to personal happiness rather than values you thought they prioritized?

The lie, “I deserve to be happy all the time” is one of five I unpack in my new book, Screens and Teens: Connecting with Our Kids in a Wireless World. I propose there are nine cultures contributing to their belief that happiness is essential and possible.

It’s not their fault they over-value happiness. Technology has wired their brains for it. I’d be like them if I was their age. So would you.

The culture of easy concerns me. It’s not that I want things to be hard constantly, but when they are, our young people don’t know what to do. Many quit. Some over-depend on others. Some whine. They depend too much on everything being easy.

Needing things to be easy can mean our teens don’t learn how to persevere. They may plateau and not grow because new things scare them. Without learning how to persevere, they may not develop character or hope.

To increase the likelihood that our kids will persevere when something isn’t instantly easy, we can:

  • make sure to evaluate our attitude toward difficulties,
  • not rescue them from all hard experiences,
  • teach them, don’t tell them, how to be successful,
  • encourage them through the process rather than waiting to acknowledge them only when they’re finished,
  • talk about, model, and teach what it means at a very practical level to depend on God for strength and wisdom, and
  • help them understand the rewards of hard work.

Did anything here cause you to think of a time in your life when you didn’t handle it well when something was challenging? Share that with your children. Invite them to share a time in their lives when they didn’t react well to a challenge. Commit together to improve attitudes and actions.

“Ten Minutes” And The Insta-Everything Generation

When someone says something will take a long time, how long do you expect to wait? An hour? Two? Thirty minutes? Do you think the definition of “a long time” has changed through the years?

While writing my latest book, Screens and Teens, I discovered tea advertised to help the throat. Since my voice frequently gets tired and my throat can get sore from all the talking I do at conventions, especially, I decided to try it.

I was skeptical but trusted my friends’ recommendations. After purchasing my first box, I looked for the directions. I don’t drink a lot of tea so I wondered if a recommended length for steeping it would be mentioned. It was.

I read “ten minutes,” did a double take, and exclaimed to myself, You’re kidding! Ten whole minutes? Then I think I laughed.

If I think ten minutes is a long time, imagine how the “I want it now” generation might feel. Have you heard or participated in conversations like these?

“Dinner will be ready in ten minutes.”

“Why so long?”

(Does this sometimes trigger an argument, delaying dinner further?)

“We had to wait at the doctor’s office forever!”

“He was only running 15 minutes late.”

“Like I said. FOREVER.”

Waiting is hard for our “instant everything” generation. It’s also challenging because they’re not used to quiet and having to be in touch with their own thoughts.

Our “Values” Matter

What do you consistently do? What decisions do you consistently make? What routines have you established? What choices have become the norm? What’s the same for you yesterday, today, and tomorrow?

Whether you’ve thought about it or not, these consistencies are due to your values. They drive our choices and decisions.

Keep thinking . . .

If we want our children to make the same choices and decisions we might make in similar circumstances, they need to know our values. Since adults aren’t always aware of what’s driving their choices, we sure can’t assume our children know why we do what we do.

Our values matter.

You Can Join Our “Screens And Teens…” Launch Team!

We know that having some people read a book before it’s officially released can help to get the word out about the book. Because we want as many people as possible influenced by the ideas in Screens and Teens, launch team members will be very important.

You can apply to be a launch team member! If you decide to apply, please click on the link below to answer a few questions for us. Please do this before January 17 and the sooner the better. We’ll let you know no later than January 20 if you’re accepted. If you are, you’ll receive a complimentary copy of the book when it comes out March 1 as well as other Celebrate Kids products.

The Launch Team will be active from the moment you’re chosen and continues through the end of March with the height of our activity happening before and around the time the book is released. You will receive an e-book when you are accepted.

“Screens And Teens” Crunch Time And New Focus On The Family Broadcasts

Did you know that Dr. Kathy is a super-duper writing rockstar! It is true! I might be the Online Content & Social Media Manager but I am a proud member of the Kathy Koch cheerleading squad!

Give me a “K”! Give me an “A”! Give me a “THY”! … or, you know …  WRITE, WRITE, WRITE, WRITE!

Kathy is in the midst of finishing up the initial manuscript for her new book “Screens And Teens: Connecting With Our Kids In A Wireless World.” It’s crunch time for her on this project so your prayers (and cheers) for her and this effort would be greatly appreciated.

That’s not all …

Let’s Offer Hope To Hurting Teens

Yesterday was an emotionally fatiguing day. It seemed like every time I turned around there was another reason to think about teenagers.

There were more details about Monday’s tragic stabbing of a 12-year-old girl by two of her 12-year-old friends. Friends!? Yes. That’s what they say. I’m relieved the victim will survive. I’m already praying for her emotional wellbeing.

Unfortunately, for the girls who planned this sad assault, the line between fiction and reality blurred. They allowed the fictional urban legend of Slender Man from the creepypasta site to influence their thinking. I’m praying for them, too.

I want us to spend less time wondering what these parents might have done better or differently and make sure we’re doing what we can with the children and teens we influence. Does that make you uncomfortable?