Youth Culture Insights. . . The Dopamine Hit and Addictions. . .

What new challenges do our kids face in today’s world. . . challenges that undermine their human flourishing? What must parents and youth workers know about these challenges so that we might address them. . . countering them in ways that lead to deepened discipleship and the advancement of human flourishing?

Those questions. . . always on my mind. . . jumped front and center yesterday when I listened to a recent episode of NPR’s Fresh Air Podcast (embedded below). Terry Gross was interviewing Dr. Anna Lembke about her new book, Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance In An Age Of Indulgence. 

As I listened to Lembke talk about life in today’s world and the many challenges it brings, I was amazed at her insights regarding human physiology and bio-chemistry. Lembke said, “Living in this modern age is very challenging, We’re now having to cope with: How do I live in a world in which everything is provided? And if I consume too much of it — which my reflexes compel me to do — I’m going to be even more unhappy.” Hmmm. I’m not sure if Dr. Lembke shares our Christian worldview, but her insights and conclusions pull back the curtain on the beauty of God’s order and design for our human bodies, how our habits form (or de-form us), and the ways we undo ourselves through our choices. There’s a heavy dose of Biblical truth and the Christian worldview supported here.

What was especially convicting is her insights on addictions and technology. I keep thinking about Lembke’s description of the integration of our bodies and minds. . . which we know is by God’s design. . . and how it all works: “Hedonism. . . ultimately leads to lack of joy.” Wow.

Parents and youth workers need to take 45 minutes to listen in and learn. Her insights on technology and smart-phone addiction are insightful for us all. You will be challenged to take what you learn, and act on it in your homes and ministries. There’s a clear tie here between our brains, our bio-chemistry, and our spiritual lives.

As you listen, don’t miss the irony as the commercial breaks advertise a Samsung smartphone and how it helps you multi-task. Interestingly enough, Lembke’s own institution, Stanford University, has done some of the best research on the human inability to multi-task (“dual-task interference”).

After listening to this episode of Fresh Air, be sure to scroll down and check out the short news report that I saw last night that might serve as a kind of “Exhibit A” to the interview with Dr. Lembke. The news story is quite alarming but turns out well. . . thanks to a very endearing Good Samaritan out in California. Don’t miss the fact that the 2-year-old diaper-wearing toddler who was running down the busy road at night was distracted by the tablet he was holding and focused on. There are multiple layers of oblivion evidenced in this story. This is our brave new world folks. . . and the Gospel is deeply needed and relevant.

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