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Social Media- Amazing or Dangerous?

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The landscape of social interaction for students has been under constant change for the past several years. Because of technology and social media, peer to peer contact looks vastly different from when most of us were in middle school and high school. The advancement of social media comes with pros, cons, and reason for caution. Most importantly, kids' use of social media presents a unique opportunity for parents to have authentic conversation with their students.

First, the caution. Social media gives kids (and parents) access to compare their everyday lives to the highlight reels of the people they follow. This "in your face" comparison can create insecurity around our identity in Christ. Along with comparison, kids have easy access to cyber bullying (common on twitter and snapchat), sexual temptation (common on instagram/snapchat) and a general disconnection from authentic relationship. I want to highlight snapchat as a platform to talk to your kids about, because it is important for kids to understand the gravity of what they send to their peers. Pictures that they hope will disappear can be screen-shotted and circulated, causing significant relational damage. Snapchat also is used to show live pictures and videos of what students are doing, or what material things they have. This is significant because it can make other students feel left out (whether the snap was intended to leave kids out or unintentionally made them feel that way), or could cause students to feel like they need certain material things in order to "fit in."

Second, the opportunity. As parents, you have an incredible opportunity to talk to your students about social media. Often, students are a lot more comfortable hiding behind the screens of their phones and are willing to say things on social media platforms that they likely wouldn't say in most face to face interactions, You can encourage your students to be who they are, in face to face interactions as well as on their social media platforms. More so than that, you can have conversations affirming your students regarding their value as created sons and daughters of a king. Who they are in Christ is more than who they are on social media.

As a church community, we will continue to challenge students on the topic of social media, and how they relate to others. Ultimately, we want our students to know that their identity can be rooted in the God who created them, and doesn't need to rest on how many twitter followers, instagram likes, or snapchat streaks they have. Relationship with others can flow more freely when we know who God created us to be.

If you have any questions about specific social media platforms, or would like tips in talking to your students about social media, please email , Student Ministry Director or , Middle School Pastor or , Preteen Pastor.

in Youth

More than a Bad Day- Mental Health in our Kids & Students

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Written by: Julie Folan, Middle School Coordinator and Megan Nelson, High School Coordinator.

This month we have the chance to share relevant information that hits many homes. We hope this information with clear facts helps you or someone you know. Please feel free to share this information.

Myth: Children don't experience mental health problems.
  • Fact: Even very young children may show early warning signs of mental health concerns. These mental health problems are often clinically diagnosable, and can be a product of the interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors.
  • Half of all mental health disorders show first signs before a person turns 14 years old, and three quarters of mental health disorders begin before age 24.
  • Unfortunately, less than 20% of children and adolescents with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need. Early mental health support can help a child before problems interfere with other developmental needs.

Found at (http://www.mentalhealth.org/basics/myths-facts)

Mental health is a complex subject. Many people don’t know how to spot someone dealing with depression, suicidal ideation or self-harming actions. Talking about this topic with your kids can be incredibly difficult, but it’s so important to have these conversations! Parents, get to know every detail about your kids battle with this. Have open and honest conversations. Often, kids know that they need help and want help but just don’t know how to get it. We want to give you some resources to help you spot these issues, be able to open up a conversation with your child, and give them the help they need.

This is a real issue! Check out these statistics dealing with depression, suicide, and self-harm:

Depression Statistics
  • Approximately 20 percent of teens will experience depression before they reach adulthood.
  • Between 10 to 15 percent of teenagers have some symptoms of depression at any one time.
  • Depression increases a teen’s risk for attempting suicide by 12 times.

Found at www.ineedalighthouse.org/depression-suicide/teen-depression/

Suicide Statistics
  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death of young persons aged 15-24
  • In 2014, 1,668 youth aged 13-18 committed suicide
  • Every day approximately 105 Americans die by suicide
  • Every 12.3 minutes there is a death by suicide in the United States
  • Every 40 seconds there is a death by suicide worldwide

Found at www.teenhelp.com/teen-suicide/teen-suicide-statistics/

Self-Harm Statistics
  • Each year, 1 in 5 females and 1 in 7 males engage in self injury
  • 90 percent of people who engage in self harm begin during their teen or pre-adolescent years
  • Females comprise 60 percent of those who engage in self injurious behavior
  • About 50 percent of those who engage in self mutilation begin around age 14 and carry on into their 20s

Found at www.healthyplace.com/abuse/self-injury/self-injury-self-harm-statistics-and-facts/

We conducted an interview with Counselor, Carrie Finkill MA, LPC, LSC, NCC, asking her some of the big questions surrounding identifying, talking about, and getting help for depression, suicide, and self-harm. Take a look at her experienced and knowledgeable answers surrounding this topic:

What are some common warning signs that parents could be on the lookout for?

  • Big Changes in their Kids Lives; friend changes, music changes, interest changes
  • Sleeping Habits; not sleeping or sleeping all the time
  • Grade Drops
  • Isolation
  • Specifically with Self-Harm: Seasonal-inappropriate clothing (i.e. scarves or pants when everyone else is wearing shorts) or excessive wristwear

What does it look like to talk with your kids about what they’re dealing with?

  • Don’t Go Negative: That reinforces the stigma that there’s something wrong with the child.
  • Stay Positive in Communication
  • Suggested Verbiage: I’m sorry you're hurting so much, I’m sorry you're feeling this way, I’m sorry this is such a difficult time for you
  • Don’t only talk about the mental health problem. If that’s the only thing your conversations consist of your kids will begin to identify that their battle is who they are instead of it being something that they are dealing with.
  • Avoid only asking questions like; Have you self-harmed, do you want to self-harm, are you safe, have you taken your meds.
  • Rather, ask questions regarding current interests, why they find it interesting, etc.

      When should parents get their kids help?

      • As soon as they know notice that there's a problem, as soon as someone tells them something is going on or when they sense something is off. Waiting until there’s an issue that involves law enforcement or the school amplifies everything because then there’s a crisis.

      How can parents get their kids help?

      • Therapist Reference List from the Care Team at Eastern Hills
      • psychologytoday.com (A resource to find a licensed therapist in your area)
      • There is a myth that insurance doesn’t cover Mental Health but that's not true, insurance companies are required to cover it. Contact your insurance company to find out the specific coverage for your plan.
      • Referrals, Ask your friends

      What does good help look like?

      • Collaboration between the therapist, child, and parents
      • Healthy Boundaries: A confidential safe space where the kids can say what they need to say. If the child is worried that everything they share is getting back to their parents they won’t open up. A good therapist will use discretion when sharing with parents. Boundaries should be made clear to all parties from the beginning.
      • An Educated and Certified Licensed Therapist

      Do you suggest only seeing a Christian Counselor?

      • No, a good therapist will respect an individual’s belief system and not push their own agenda’s. They will respect faith as an important part of what your child is dealing with and going through.

      We know that this is a scary experience for you as parents, there are a lot of unknowns and new things to learn. It’s our heart to partner with you, to resource you and your family.  We hope you can find solace in the fact that there are a lot of treatment options out there and you don’t have to walk this alone. It is also our desire to shed a light on mental health and it is our belief that talking about it will help to do that. Feel free to reach out to the staff at Eastern Hills for any further resources, questions or simply someone to talk to!

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