Snapchat + Teen Hairstyles + First Cell Phone Advice | Ep. 133

Snapchat + Teen Hairstyles + First Cell Phone Advice | Ep. 133

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Are you ready for your child’s first cell phone?

There’s a lot to consider before putting your child’s first cell phone under the tree this Christmas. If you’re not sure what to look for or how to set your teen up for success, keep reading or hit the play button! We’ve got talking points, tips, and phone options to consider before you complete your order.

We’ll also give you the latest on teen hairstyles for boys and girls and what you need to know about what’s new on Snapchat.

What’s new on Snapchat?

Before we jump into the latest features, let’s go over the basics of Snapchat for those who are new to the platform. Snapchat is a multimedia messaging app that allows users to share photos and videos with friends and followers. The defining feature of Snapchat is the ephemeral nature of its content – messages, photos, and stories disappear after a set time, adding a sense of spontaneity and impermanence to the experience.

New Features

Live Maps

With Live Maps, you can see where your friends are and, in return, they can see your location. To enhance privacy, you can enter “ghost mode” in your settings, ensuring your location remains hidden. Live Maps also showcases “Hot Spots,” allowing you to explore trending areas and see other users’ posts, even if they’re not in your friend list.


Snapchat’s answer to the popular short-form video format seen on Reels and TikTok is called “Spotlight.” This feature lets users create and share short video content with a wide audience, giving you a chance to showcase your creativity and gain followers.


For those who want an enhanced Snapchat experience, Snapchat+ is available for a monthly fee of $3.99. With Snapchat+, you can customize your Snapchat experience by moving or removing the Snapchat AI chatbot, setting custom story expiration lengths, personalizing badges, enjoying Story Boost, and having extra Snap Replays. While some of these features may seem trivial, they can be a fun way to personalize your Snapchat usage.

Family Center

The introduction of Family Center is a significant step by Snapchat to address concerns about child safety on the platform. This in-app tool allows parents to monitor their teenage children’s interactions on Snapchat without invading their privacy. Parents can see who their children are interacting with, and Snapchat has plans to enhance this feature in the future. However, parents cannot set time limits for app usage or eavesdrop on private conversations.

Pros of Snapchat Parental Monitoring

The Family Center feature allows parents to keep an eye on their teenage children’s Snapchat activity, providing an extra layer of security.

Discover Fun New Places on Snap Maps

Live Maps and Hot Spots make it exciting to discover new places and activities, both locally and globally.

A Way to Stay Connected

Snapchat remains a popular platform for staying connected with friends and family through photos, videos, and messages.

A Way for Young People to Get News

The “Discover” tab offers a unique way for younger users to access news, trends, and entertainment.

Cons of Snapchat Limited Monitoring

While Family Center provides some parental control, it’s not as robust as some parents may desire, lacking features like setting time limits.

Location Tracking

The Live Maps feature, while exciting, raises concerns about location tracking and privacy.

Disappearing Messages and Photos

The ephemeral nature of Snapchat content can be a double-edged sword, as it can lead to misunderstandings or miscommunication.

Whether you love Snapchat or not, it remains one of the most popular apps among teens. It’s crucial to be aware of and use its features responsibly- to be aware of the privacy implications, especially when it comes to location tracking and the ephemeral nature of the platform. With the introduction of the Family Center, Snapchat is taking steps to address these concerns and make the platform safer for young users. As always, staying informed and using the platform wisely is the key to enjoying Snapchat to the fullest!

What’s trending in teen hairstyles

Hairstyles have always played a pivotal role in expressing individuality and cultural heritage. Keep reading for a look at the hottest teen hair trends for 2023, as well as the 2019 legislative development initiated by Dove, the CROWN Act.

Trending Styles for Boys


The ’80s-inspired mullet is making a fierce comeback. This iconic hairstyle, characterized by shorter hair on the sides and back with longer hair at the top, offers a unique blend of vintage charm and contemporary flair. With modern variations and a hint of rebellion, the mullet is capturing the hearts of young boys looking to make a statement with their hair.

Perm Fronts

Perms are no longer limited to your grandma’s era. Boys are embracing perm fronts, adding texture and volume to their hair while keeping the sides short and neat. This trend allows boys to experiment with their style and achieve a unique look that stands out.


Swoops are all about bangs and fringes that create a dramatic, eye-catching effect. They add a touch of sophistication and can be adapted to various lengths and textures, giving boys the flexibility to express their personality through their hairstyle.

Trending Hairstyles for Girls

Bangs (Taylor Bangs & Curtain Bangs)

Bangs never go out of style, and this year we’re seeing the resurgence of Taylor bangs (inspired by Taylor Swift) and curtain bangs. These styles frame the face beautifully, offering a chic and timeless look that can be customized to suit any hair type or length.

Natural Curls

Embracing natural curls is a growing trend that emphasizes the beauty of one’s hair in its true form. Girls with naturally curly hair are flaunting their stunning locks, and many are opting for shorter, textured cuts that emphasize their curls’ natural bounce and vibrancy.

Heatless Curls/Crimped

Girls are exploring heatless methods to achieve those coveted beachy waves and crimped textures. Heatless curls and crimps are not only more gentle on the hair but also showcase a fun and effortless style that’s perfect for any occasion.

Embracing Natural Hair

  • 80% of Black women reported having to change their hair to fit into the workplace.
  • Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from the workplace because of their hair.
  • Shockingly, 100 percent of Black elementary school girls in majority-white schools who report experiencing hair discrimination state they experienced the discrimination by the age of 10.

Starting from September 1, 2023, the CROWN Act came into effect in Texas schools, marking a significant step forward. The Texas statute clearly states that any dress or grooming policy adopted by a school district “may not discriminate against a hair texture or protective hairstyle commonly or historically associated with race.” This law is a beacon of hope for a more inclusive and respectful world where people are free to express their cultural heritage and personal style without fear of discrimination.

In conclusion, 2023 is all about embracing diversity and individuality in hair trends. Whether you’re a boy looking to channel the spirit of the ’80s or a girl proudly flaunting your natural curls, your hair is a canvas for self-expression. Additionally, the CROWN Act’s progression is a significant step towards fostering an inclusive society where everyone is free to be themselves, with their natural hair celebrated and respected. So, go ahead and embrace the hair trend that resonates with you and remember that your hair is a beautiful reflection of your unique identity.

Are you thinking of getting your kid their first cell phone this Christmas?

The holiday season is approaching, and if you’re contemplating whether to gift your child their first cell phone, you’re not alone. The question of when to introduce your child to a smartphone is a topic that many parents grapple with, and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. In this blog post, we’ll explore the complexities of this decision and offer some guidance to help you navigate this milestone.

No “Right Age” for a First Cell Phone

It’s essential to understand that there’s no universal “right age” for a child to receive their first cell phone. While the “Wait Until 8th” pledge has gained popularity, it’s worth noting that it’s becoming less practical in the modern age of technology. The demands of school, the need for communication, and the prevalence of digital tools make the decision more complex than ever.

Recent Trends in Kids’ Smartphone Ownership

Recent survey data shows that 42% of kids in the United States have their first cell phone by the age of 10. By the time they reach 14, smartphone ownership climbs to an astounding 91%. While these numbers offer a snapshot of current trends, they shouldn’t be the sole basis for your decision.

Developmental Readiness Over Age

Experts emphasize that developmental readiness is more important than age when considering a child’s first cell phone. Some important developmental milestones that might guide your decision include:

  1. Complex Thoughts and Improved Reasoning: Can your child handle more complex thoughts and reasoning? Are they capable of making responsible decisions?
  2. Developing Solutions: Is your child showing signs of developing their own solutions to problems? Are they becoming more self-reliant?
  3. Empathy and Consideration: Is your child demonstrating empathy and thinking of others? Are they mindful of how their actions affect those around them?
  4. Understanding Right and Wrong: Are they developing a stronger sense of right and wrong? Are they able to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate behavior?
  5. Respecting Boundaries: Is your child responding appropriately to limits and boundaries set by parents and teachers?

Talking About Expectations

Before you decide to get your child a cell phone, it’s crucial to have a conversation about expectations. Consider creating a contract together that outlines how they will and won’t use their phone. Here are some important questions to get the conversation started:

  • What would you use the phone for, and why do you need it?
  • How much daily phone usage do you think is appropriate?
  • Where will you charge your device at night?
  • Are there times during the day when phone use should be restricted?
  • What are the rules about using the phone at school?
  • What consequences should be in place if the phone is lost?

Alternatives to Smartphones

If you’re not comfortable giving your child a smartphone but want to provide them with a communication device, there are alternatives to consider:

Smart Watches
Options like the Gabb Watch, Apple Watch SE, Gizmo Watch, and TickTalk Watch offer limited functionality, allowing communication without full internet access. However, be aware that many schools are now banning smartwatches in the classroom, so they may need to remain in lockers or backpacks during school hours.

Kid Phones
Devices like the Gabb Phone, Pinwheel, Light Phone 2, and Wisephone are designed for children and provide essential communication features without the distractions of a full-fledged smartphone.

Flip Phones
Consider getting a basic flip phone with no internet access. While this may limit some features, it can provide a communication tool without the added distractions of smartphones. The decision to get your child their first cell phone is a personal one that depends on many factors. Focus on your child’s developmental readiness and have an open, honest conversation about expectations and responsibilities. There are various communication alternatives to consider if you’re not ready to provide a smartphone.

Ultimately, the key is to make a decision that aligns with your family’s values and ensures your child’s safety and well-being in the digital age.

In this episode, we mentioned or used the following resources about your child’s first cell phone, teen hairstyle trends and Snapchat.

Have a question?

If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!

About Us

Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Tobin Hodges

Tobin Hodges

Program Director

Caleb Hatchett

Caleb Hatchett

Podcast Host

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Ep. 79: Personal Hygiene & Sexting

Ep. 79: Personal Hygiene & Sexting

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Everyone knows that teens can be smelly. We’ve got a straightforward list of ideas to help your teen conquer personal hygiene so they can succeed in other areas of their lives. We’ll also talk about who’s most at risk for consensual and non-consensual sexting and the conversation you need to have. Plus, how to find hidden photos on an iPhone.

In this episode, we mentioned or used the following resources:

Have a question? If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!
About Us:
Chris Robey

Chris Robey


Chris has worked with teens from a variety of backgrounds for over a decade. He has a desire to help teenagers make good choices while also giving their families tools to communicate more effectively as choices are made.
Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Karlie was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and has always had a heart for teenagers and the vulnerable life stage they are in. She has a wealth of experience to share from working with teens in ministry and leading support groups.

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Great Holiday Expectations

Great Holiday Expectations

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – or at least it’s supposed to be. Trees are decorated, lights are strung, stockings are hung, lists are made, and parties are planned. Emotions can skyrocket to the highest highs and then crash all in one week.

Last year for Christmas, my 6-year old provided me her Christmas list. At the top was an iPhone. I initially just laughed it off, but as the season progressed, the iPhone quickly became the only thing on her list. So, about 2 ½ weeks before Christmas, I put on my Grinch face and told her that she wasn’t getting an iPhone for Christmas. She laughed and told me, “It’s okay.” I was shocked. She had been talking about it non-stop for weeks. Noticing my surprise, she added, “I asked Papa for an iPhone, and Papa always gets me what I ask for.”

Oh, expectations.

It’s a season full of expectations.

Expectations of ourselves. Expectations of others. Expectations in the form of gifts and Christmas lists. Expectations about family interactions. Expectations about memories to be made and thank-you’s to be given and received. Expectations about traditions.

Expectations can be overwhelming for children, youth, and adults alike during the Holidays. Often, they present themselves in the form of deregulated, unusual, or frustrating behaviors in our young people. Older children and youth often aren’t able to immediately convey how these expectations impact them, but if you take a step back then you can see.

You can see it in the teen who struggles with depression this time of year. Or the youth whose behavior spirals downward as they struggle to manage the anticipation of Christmas approaching. You see it in the young adult striving toward perfection this season in order to balance the pressures of extended family being around. Or in the child who struggles with the memories of happy Christmases with a person whose loss of relationship is still fresh. You can see it in the teen mom who is trying to balance her own wants with the desires of her child and for her child.

In addition to expectations we place on ourselves or have placed on us, there are all these other expectations around, often propelled through TV and social media. My holiday season doesn’t actually look like the commercials. Nor does it look like Instagram. There isn’t snow falling outside (thanks, Texas) as we all sit and laugh by the fireplace. There isn’t a long table filled with extended family members who are all using their manners and talking about non-controversial topics. There will be no new Lexus. My kids and their cousins aren’t wearing matching, Christmas coordinated outfits as they play kindly together with their new toys.

There’s an old proverb that says, “Expectations are just premeditated resentments.” At first, I wasn’t sure if I agreed. But the more I reflected on it, the more I realized how true it is, in normal everyday life, but especially during the holidays. Chasing expectations or trying to live up to others’ can be a holiday joy killer. For ourselves and for our families. For the students we work with. The gift might not be perfect. That family member might not come. There might be fighting when the willingness to play nice wears off. The money might not be enough, or the dread of impending debt can be crippling.

Flash back to the iPhone conversation. I quickly explained again to my daughter that I was not getting her a phone and neither was Papa. She was devastated. However, had the expectation of the phone continued to grow for 2 ½ more weeks, the devastation would have grown as well. With the expectations of an iPhone now put to rest, my daughter was able to enjoy the gifts she did receive without the disappointment on Christmas morning.

So, what can we do to help manage expectations this Christmas? Here are some simple questions for yourself and the youth you work with:

      1. For yourself: What expectations placed on you by others are weighing you down this year? Who do you need to let down gently? What personal expectations do you need to lower or adjust?
      2. For youth that might be struggling this holiday: What are their plans for the holidays? What are they anticipating about the holidays? What they are nervous about or dreading during Christmas?

Sometimes our youth seem hyper-expectant and overtly emotional, and other times they seem to blow off the holidays in apathy. My experience has been that all still feel the pressure of expectations. It has also been my experience that talking to them about their interpretation of expectations can be freeing for them and allows us to see what needs or struggles exist.

As you head into this season, start by checking your own expectations and then helping those around you understand their own expectations. You might just be surprised at how it changes Christmas.


Beth Nichols is Teen Life’s Program Manager. With her background in social work and experience as a mom of 4, her perspective is invaluable.
Hey Mom, Put Down Your Phone!

Hey Mom, Put Down Your Phone!

I had an interesting conversation in my group the other day. We got to talking about the students’ relationship with their parents, and it quickly turned into a discussion on family time and phone distractions. For probably the first time in one of my Support Groups, every single group member was on the same page! Here are some of the things I heard around the table that day:

  • My mom makes us have “family time” and watch a movie but stares at her phone the whole time.
  • My parents are constantly on Facebook or playing Candy Crush when we are together.
  • Why do they say I’m always on my phone when they are even worse than I am?
  • My dad always sends emails at the dinner table, but I get in trouble if I look at my phone.
  • I tell my parents “family time” doesn’t count if they are on their phones but they say all that matters is that we’re in the same room.
  • Were your parents always on their phones too?

First, let me just admit that I am not yet a parent, but I struggle with this as well. When I sit down to watch a show with my husband, it is easy to mindlessly scroll through Instagram or Facebook out of habit. Sometimes I don’t even notice I’m on my phone until he points it out! Second, it is never fun to get called out by teenagers, but my group issued a challenge that I feel obligated to pass on!

Also on a side note, I laughed out loud when they asked about my parents and their phone use when I was a teenager. When I was in high school, we didn’t have internet on our phones, and we certainly didn’t have fun games like Candy Crush (RIP Snake Game). This is fairly new territory for parents!

Technology isn’t going anywhere, phones aren’t going to phase out, and social media will probably always be king of the internet. So how can we better model how to balance family, work, and fun? We have to be the example in this area; otherwise, our kids will never learn acceptable boundaries and healthy practices.

Before I offer some suggestions, there are a few things I would like to point out about their statements and questions.

1. They watch you and notice.

You know the phrase, “Do as I say and not as I do”? That doesn’t fly with teenagers. They watch you. They see what you do and will push back if what you do is different than what you say. Telling teens to put down their phones while yours is still in front of your face sends a clear message that you probably aren’t intending to communicate.

2. They don’t see a difference between work and social media use of phones.

They don’t care if you are on your phone for work – if they see your phone out, it is a distraction no matter what it’s purpose. Sending email, making calls, checking your Facebook, it is all the same to them. If you are on your phone when you should be spending time with them, your excuses don’t matter – just so you know 🙂

3. They think you have a technology problem.

This absolutely cracks me up! As adults, we read books, listen to podcast, and attend seminars on helping our teenagers manage social media and their phones. We talk about this generation and their problems with connection, but they think adults are the ones with the problem! I am not saying that teens have technology under control or use it appropriately all the time, but until we prove them wrong, I do believe we are the ones with the problem.

4. They actually care about “family time.”

When they were having this discussion, they weren’t upset that they had to be present for family time. They were mad that their parents were violating the time that they set aside. One student even said that he enjoys hanging out with his mom when she isn’t distracted by her phone.

I really don’t want you to miss this point, so I will say it again in case you’re still in shock…teenagers actually care about “family time”! Even when they act like spending time as a family is the worst inconvenience, the stories they tell when you aren’t around would say otherwise.



As I said above, this is a newer problem for parents. Just like we are trying to figure out how to help our teenagers have boundaries, we are walking the same blurry line. I want you to have a good relationship with your teenager. I want you to be able to take advantage of family time – if they are willing to set aside their phones, don’t ruin it by being on yours!

While I could write several blogs on this topic, let me start with two tips that I believe could make a huge difference in your home!

Do what you ask of your kids.

This seems simple and like a no-brainer, but the more I talk to teens, the more I realize that we are failing at this. While their are perks to being an adult and setting the rules, when they are around and watching you, follow your own rules! If you ask them to put away their phones for a specific time or activity, do the same. Do they have a time limit on how much they can be on their phones? Try to stick to a similar schedule!

They are watching you, and you set the example of how to interact with your phone. This is especially true for when you drive. Ouch…but if you don’t want your teenager to text (or tweet) and drive, put your phone away in the car. Don’t text, don’t have phone conversations that can wait until you get to your destination, don’t be catching up on your Facebook comments while you are driving your kids. Show them how to be responsible and safe!


Make “family time” sacred.

Find small ways to make the time you spend as a family special. While it may be unrealistic to expect your teenager to put their phone away anytime they are are with a family member, you can set aside specific times that are phone-free. Some examples could be dinner time, the first 15 minutes after they get home from school, special family activities, or when you watch tv or a movie as a family. Once you ask them to make the activity you decide on phone-free, follow the rule above and put yours up as well!

This might mean that you put your phone on “do not disturb” to keep you from reading texts, checking email, or answering phone calls. Unless it is an emergency, anything on your phone can wait until that sacred time is over. You communicate the importance of family time by your actions. Distractions and phones can kill a family moment – don’t let your teenager down by not giving them your full attention!

So, what do you think? How have you set boundaries in your home? How have you made family time sacred and special? Share with us – we always love new ideas!
Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Karlie was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and has always had a heart for teenagers and the vulnerable life stage they are in. She has a wealth of experience to share from working with teens in ministry and leading support groups.

Don’t Panic about Snapchat

Don’t Panic about Snapchat

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Snapchat is an app that has caused great anxiety for adults and especially the parents of teenagers. In this episode, Chris and Karlie discuss the phenomenon of Snapchat, the pros and cons of the app, and how to have beneficial conversations with teenagers about Snapchat. Don’t panic about Snapchat, we’ve done our research and are here to help!

[bctt tweet=”#Snapchat is tapping into people’s desire to talk, to share, and to move on. – @dontpanictalk” via=”no”]

In this episode, you’ll find out…

  • The historical context of Snapchat.
  • Snapchat 101 – a brief guide if you’ve never used the app.
  • Why Snapchat is so popular among teenagers.
  • The pros and cons of the app.
  • How to talk to teenagers about Snapchat.

Ask yourself…

  • Have I researched Snapchat or tried it myself?
  • Am I willing to have a conversation with my teen before panicking about Snapchat?

Go ask a teen…

  • What about Snapchat makes it better than other apps?
  • How does Snapchat work? Can you show me?

About Us:

Chris Robey is the Program Director for Teen Lifeline, Inc. Earlier in his career while working as a youth minister, Chris earned a Masters Degree in Family Life Education from Lubbock Christian University to better equip his work with teenagers and families. Chris’ career and educational opportunities have exposed him to teenagers from a variety of backgrounds. Follow him on Twitter!

Karlie Duke started working as Teen Lifeline’s Communications Director after graduating from Abilene Christian University with a degree in Communications with a minor in Family Studies. Karlie has worked with teenagers for the past 5 years and is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram!

Have a question?

If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!