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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Confronting the Momo Problem

Confronting the Momo Problem

The “Momo Challenge”.

Did you hear about it? Did it cause panic among your circles? Did you see emails, Facebook posts, and texts warning you about this terrifying internet presence?

Momo is scary, terrifying, horrible, dark, and twisted. But it is also fake – a hoax. Even though this particular character was fake, it brings up a great question – how do we confront internet and social media issues with our children?

Before I go further, let me give some context for those who haven’t heard of Momo. According to this CNN article, “The [Momo] challenge is the latest viral concern/social media fad/urban legend going around Facebook parenting groups and schools. It’s described as a “suicide game” which combines shock imagery and hidden messaging, and it supposedly encourages kids to attempt dangerous stunts, including suicide.”

According to Facebook posts, the scary, large-eyed doll figure called Momo would pop up in the middle of YouTube videos aimed at children like cartoons and toy reviews. Momo would then ask children to engage in destructive behavior – hurting themselves, loved ones, and even encouraging them to kill themselves. Reportedly, Momo also warned viewers against telling adults about what they were seeing and hearing. It is a horrifying thought that these messages would sneak into videos that parents and adults trusted to be safe for children.

However, while there have been Facebook posts, testimonies and stories, there has been little to no evidence that these Momo Challenge messages exist – no screen shots or recordings. According to experts, Momo is nothing to be worried about and stories of the challenge have been perpetuated by fearful exaggeration.

Now here is the problem with Momo – are children scared of the figure because they saw it in a video? Or are they scared because of the stories and pictures they have seen from parents and peers? Which begs the question – did we make this problem worse by talking about it? And how do we handle things like this in the future?

Here are some things to keep in mind while having internet, social media, or cyber-bullying conversations with you children and teenagers:


Question without telling.

When asking teens about current things that you are seeing in the news or on Facebook, start by asking non-leading questions. Instead of asking about Snapchat, for example, ask what apps they are using on their phones. Ask how they interact with friends via the internet. Ask if they have seen or heard anything scary or inappropriate on the internet or their phone apps.

By all means, please ask your teenagers what they are watching, listening to, interacting on. If you have younger children, have them watch videos with you in the room, check their view history and regulate what they have access to. But try to avoid telling them the shortcomings of social media and the internet if they are using it innocently. Open the door for your kids to talk to you without making them worried or afraid of what you might tell them. 


Talk without projecting fear.

It is understandable if you are worried. But your kids don’t need your worry and fear projected on them. This is especially important when you are talking about cyberbullying and worrisome content.

For example, maybe your teen received a less-than-nice message on social media. While this is not ideal or even acceptable, it also doesn’t mean that they are being bullied. However, if you project that fear onto your child, they will look for bullying in every situation in the future. Let them hold onto their innocence for as long as possible. Use accountability and some boundaries to check on them without placing rules that will raise anxiety or stress.


 Ask without assumption.

Don’t assume that just because an app is popular, your student has it on their phone. Even though Snapchat could be used with some negative intent, it doesn’t mean that your teen is using it for anything besides sending silly pictures to friends.

You should ask. You should question and keep your teenager accountable. But please don’t assume that they are doing something wrong or hiding something from you. When you start a conversation with assumptions, your teen will most likely start their response with defensiveness. Healthy conversations will include questions and an open discussion – they will end with accusations and assumptions. Give your teen the benefit of the doubt and show that you are willing to listen first before reacting!


 Discuss without an agenda.

Sometimes, you need to have discussions with your kids even if you don’t have something specific you need to ask about. When you open the door for discussion at all times, not just when they are in trouble or you are worried, they are more likely to come to you on their own instead of you always having to seek them out.

They may think you are being dorky and they may roll your eyes, but ask, “What is the newest app these days?” Ask the cool ways to connect with friends online. Start a conversation about the newest video game craze. Show that you are interested in them. Teens want you to ask – despite their reactions – they want to be heard and cared about. Be an adult who hears about the scary, dangerous, fun, exciting things first because that is the kind of relationship you have cultivated with teenagers.


As I wrap up, I want to encourage you to be invested in the social media practices of your children. Know what they are watching, downloading, playing and using. Ask other adults, and stay aware of trends and possible dangers.

Hopefully you did hear about the Momo Challenge, but I also hope you will do research and ask around when you hear legends and rumors. While we don’t want to be naïve adults, we also don’t need to believe everything on internet. Above all else, start conversations with your kids and teens. Ask questions, engage them, and also trust them!

You are doing hard work in an constantly changing world!

Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Marketing & Development Director

Karlie was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. She has gained experience working with teenagers through work, volunteer, and personal opportunities.

Can I Say That Here?

Can I Say That Here?

I was recently leading a support group with 7th grade students. During one of our introduction activities, a girl started to share — and then paused.  She thought for a moment, and then said, “My answer is from The Bible.  Can I talk about that here?”

This is the constant question of students around us – students who live in an unsafe world – Is it okay to say what I feel here? Or the deeper version – Is this a safe place?

I opened it up to the group, and the consensus from the seven other students in the room was that she could share and not be picked on or made fun of in our circle, despite many of the others in the room having vastly different beliefs.

Seventh graders don’t typically ask if a group is safe unless they have spent time in spaces that aren’t.

Whether its mean girls, cyberbullying, or slut shaming; whether in families, in homes, or in social media fights about politics – our students are all too exposed.  They need safe spaces.

A safe space, by definition, is a place intended to be free of bias, conflict, criticism, or potentially threatening actions, ideas, or conversations.

We can help create legitimately safe spaces with our students by implementing a few simple ideas:

  1. Set Norms. In all of our groups, our students walk through a process to set norms, or behavioral expectations, before ever being asked to open up and share. Norms provide member led guidelines for what behavior and attitudes are appropriate for the space. It’s the same at home – one of our norms is “you can say whatever you want as long as you say it with respect.”
  2. Don’t Assume. It’s easy to group people together, or to make assumptions about how someone is feeling. It’s much harder to ask clarifying questions such as, “Can you tell me more about that?” or “I heard you saying _____. Is that correct?”
  3. Listen more than you talk. Students (and adults) do not want to share when no one is listening or when they feel like they are competing with someone or something else.
  4. Be shock proof. In order for a space to be safe, students need to be able to share the good, the bad, and the ugly. If they think you can’t handle it, they won’t share.


In a world of constant exposure to the threat of “fails” going viral or intimate details being shared publicly, our kids need safe spaces.   More than ever, they need a place away from the videos, the snaps, and the cloud-connected threats of exposure.

They desperately need safe places. You can create those. And you can make the difference. Help make that space for others.

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.
New Technology, New Threats

New Technology, New Threats

Our world is constantly coming up with new ways of advancing technology and bringing it into our homes. Children have robots that can talk and play with them. Teens have smartphones constantly glued to their hands. The majority of the working population is online 8-10 hours a day. In my home, we have to make a conscious effort to not be on a screen when we are spending time together. I know we are not alone in the struggle to disconnect from our screens and connect with each other.

This is a list of helpful resources and ideas that I have put together through, experience, research, and education on online safety:

  1. Create boundaries: know what is and is not okay to share online. We need to teach teens that their address, where they go to school, and even where they work is information that can make it easier to be found by people who may be dangerous. It is much better when they have their accounts set to private. Talk about what types of pictures can be shared on media, even SnapChat. Images last longer than most of us wish online; show them the consequences of having inappropriate pictures shared. Understanding why safety is necessary online is an essential step in helping teens feel responsible for what they say and do online.
  2. Have tech free time: the whole family should disconnect at least weekly to create real life connections. Take a walk, play a board game, make a meal, eat at a table screen-free, do anything to show that you are interested in what teens have to say. Teens are observant and will react to adults putting their screens away. It may be difficult to give up our screens, but it can lead to deeper relationships and more conversation, especially when everyone participates. Don’t believe me? Watch this video from Today to see for yourself how teens felt after giving their phones up for a week.
  3. Model how to act online: talk about what is helpful versus harmful to share online. We have all seen comments of harassment, cyberbullying, and people committing crimes on live stream. Teens react to these situations all the time. The pressure to bully or harass others online can be overwhelming and many teens do not know how to report the behavior or get scared they will get in trouble. We all need to be vigilant in sharing what is appropriate and how to report harmful behaviors online. What we tend to forget is that there are real people on the other side of comments with feelings that are stomped on when we post negative, harassing comments. Teen Life works at helping teens recognize and use empathy in situations, but we should all be aware that we say online can have a lasting impact on a life.


Here are some links to some awesome and free resources that can be used by anyone to keep their families safe in this overly connected world:

    • Google has Family Link which creates an account for your children but is fully linked to your account & lets you manage settings.
    • Google also has a Safety Center that has great resources that can be utilized.
    • ReThink is an app that has the potential to help ourselves from making a potentially life-changing mistake by detecting cyberbullying.


What apps and resources have you used to help yourself and your teen be responsible with technology? Try some of the resources we’ve listed above, and let us know how it goes!

Shelbie Fowler is currently an intern for Teen Life while completing her Master’s in Family Studies. She is passionate about being an advocate for family life education in order to grow families stronger.
Why Parents Need Snapchat

Why Parents Need Snapchat

You need Snapchat. Or Facebook. Or Instagram. Or Twitter. Or all of them if you are a real overachiever!

Before you get your defenses up about how you’re too old for Snapchat or how you can’t stand the rants people post on Facebook or how you don’t understand the draw of Twitter, hear me out! If we want to know more about teenagers and their culture, we need to be where they are. And they are on social media all the time. According to Pew Study in 2015, 92% of teens say that they go online daily while 24% of those teenagers are online “almost constantly.”

For these teenagers, social media is not just an app or a hobby, it is their social life. It is where they connect with friends, find out about the latest gossip, watch the video everyone will be talking about tomorrow, flirt with the opposite sex and define their social status through likes and followers.

Earlier this week in one of our Support Groups, I was talking to a boy who was about to go back to his home campus and leave our group. When he asked how we could stay in touch after the group, his first question was not, “What’s your email?” or “Could I have your phone number?” No. The question he asked was, “Are you on Snapchat?”

Now, I could write an entire blog on setting social media boundaries with teenagers who aren’t related to you (and maybe I will soon!), but even though I am not going to connect with him on Snapchat, it is telling that it was his first step to connect outside of face-to-face interaction. To teenagers, where else would you go to talk? How else would you keep up with friends?

If social media is that important to our teenagers, then we need to be willing to go where they are. That doesn’t mean that you should write embarrassing things on their wall or post baby pictures that will cause social homicide, but being on the platforms they are on gives you credibility and something to talk about. It gives you insight into those “scary apps” that you hear about from other parents or mommy blogs and puts you in control of what platforms they are allowed to participate on. Before you knock Snapchat, try it! You might like seeing short videos and pictures throughout your teenager’s day. You’ll probably laugh at the goofy filters and voices they use. You might even find out a little more information about where they are and who they are spending time with.

Social media can be a good thing both for teenagers and for parents, but we must take the fear and anxiety out of these apps. The easiest way to do that is to get informed! If you are still unsure about the whole social media thing, give this podcast with Sarah Brooks a listen, or find out more about Snapchat with this podcast!

I will make one note about social media interactions with those who aren’t your children: a safe rule is to make sure that your interactions with teenagers are public on social media – Snapchat might not be the best place to check in on teens of the opposite sex or to go back and forth with private snaps throughout the day. Keep Facebook interactions public and on their wall – maybe even wait for them to friend or follow you first! Above all, be smart about how you interact with teenagers in any situation, whether digital or not.

What apps are your teenagers using? What do you think about getting on these social media platforms yourself? Try it and let us know how it goes!

Karlie Duke was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is our Communications Director. She is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories.