Should My Child Watch ASMR? A Christian Perspective
Are you here wondering what ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) is?
or maybe you understand what it is but you want to know ….
Should my child watch ASMR YouTube videos? Are they really harmless?
As a Mom of 5 (with mostly tweens headed into the teens) I try to keep tabs on this crazy online world. One that begs their attention at every turn.
When I heard the phrase ASMR associated with slime videos, I wanted to know what it meant. As you can guess being a tween Mom, we “do” a lot of slime around here 🙂
What is it about the sight and sound of watching the slime videos that makes it so appealing?
Why are the videos so “satisfying, calming or relaxing” to watch as our own kids have said?
Let’s look first at What ASMR is
Here’s the definition of ASMR according to Wikipedia. If you’re looking for a medical definition please check out WebMD here.
Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is a term used for an experience characterised by a static-like or tingling sensation on the skin that typically begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and upper spine. It has been compared with auditory-tactile synesthesia. ASMR signifies the subjective experience of “low-grade euphoria” characterised by “a combination of positive feelings and a distinct static-like tingling sensation on the skin”. It is most commonly triggered by specific acoustic or visual stimuli, and less commonly by intentional attention control.Some of the common ASMR triggers include:
- Whispering (found to be a trigger for 75% of people)
- Hair brushing
- Turning pages
- Slow movements
- Repetitive Movements
- Light tapping noises (I don’t like noises, personally that drives me crazy 🙂 )
- Folding towels
- Crunchy sounds
The various triggers for ASMR affect people differently. For instance, the slime videos don’t personally give me any “tingling sensations” but I do sometimes feel relaxed if I watch a clip of them.
ASMR is pleasing to the senses and it can be experienced by various sights, sounds, textures, or smells.
For example, let’s think about the sound of rain.
For me, rain or thunderstorms would be a calming thought, both the sound and the smell. For my friend, it is quite the opposite.
The sound (or smell) of rain triggers a feeling or sensation in me that produces a state of relaxation.
Often related to sleep sounds: rain, crashing waves, white noise or animal sounds can relax you and even help reduce insomnia and anxiety. And the smell of a flower can be calming and pleasurable.
Those are good things, right?
So where does ASMR shift to be a concern?
As I researched this under-researched topic more, I found a few things that sent up red flags In this Mama’s heart.
Much of the ASMR debate (even among Christians) is whether or not ASMR is sexual.
Slime videos, nature sounds for sleep and some of the videos designed for kids, don’t appear to be sexual. I understand that.
The majority of ASMR users studied claim the use for relaxation, to help them sleep or to reduce stress.
But please Mom, do not be fooled.
There is a heavy following of ASMR that is presented more as erotica. Studies say 5% admit to specifically using ASMR for sexual stimulation. ASMR often being labeled a “head orgasm” leaves this Mom thinking otherwise. I have to argue that beautiful women whispering into the microphone could likely be a sexual trigger for many more than the 5% who have that intent. In adults (men and women) and especially in tweens or teens with raging hormones.
As believers, it does not do us any good to play the “how close can I get to the fire without getting burned game“.
I’ve known this to be true in my life for some time and am passionate about teaching our kids how to guard their hearts. God is not trying to squash our fun or freedom. There is true freedom found in Christ. His design for us and His ways are BEST and hold more joy than anything else could!
What we are putting into our minds, eyes and our ears we are ultimately putting into our hearts. It all matters.
We need to teach our kids that Philippians 4:8 should be our filter.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
In this article What Is ASMR, and How Can It Benefit Your Kid’s Mental Health? they (and others) point out that real-world ASMR is happening very often in families when a mother lovingly soothes her children and it should be very beneficial for them.
According to Dr. Craig Richard, an ASMR researcher, Biopharmaceutical Sciences professor, and ASMR University founder, kids are benefiting from real-world ASMR all the time. “My mother used to put me to sleep by gently touching the inside of my forearm. I think something similar is happening all over the world as parents lovingly soothe children with soft touches, gentle whispers, and caring gazes.”
Dr. Richard believes ASMR is our brain’s heightened way of letting us know we are safe and in the presence of people who care for us. Studies have shown that being cared for in a loving way is beneficial to mental and physical development. So, real-world ASMR, whether intentional or unintentional, should be very beneficial for children.
Did you see that?
“Dr Richard believes ASMR is our brain’s heightened way of letting us know we are safe and in the presence of people who care for us”
Now let’s think of that in reference to YouTube videos.
Keep in mind…. Media designed to specifically produce ASMR has hundreds of thousands of followers, millions of views and the top ASMR channels on YouTube have subscriber communities of hundreds of thousands each.
This is no small trend and it is quickly gaining popularity.
We, friends, are created by God to be social beings, craving connection to Him and to each other in community.
To fulfil that natural desire for close, personal attention, we (and our kids) now have another option in ASMR. By watching these videos they can experience the pleasurable “connection” instead of the attention that naturally happens within the family. We have more kids using online videos of people they have never met to make them feel “safe and in the presence of people who care for them”? Oh, my heart.
Even if ASMR is not sexual, it is… intimate. (Remember: personal attention was a trigger for 69 percent of people in the study.) Perhaps we need a cultural explanation, as well as a scientific one, to figure out ASMR’s growing popularity.
So here’s a non-peer-reviewed theory of ASMR, to accompany the scientific one: as our social and work lives are increasingly dematerialized, the people of the Internet have found a way to psyche themselves into re-experiencing the sensation of having a body via YouTube clips of people pretending to care about them. ASMR is a way to feel intimate, bodily connection with other people while you’re home alone on the Internet. Talk about a hack.
What Can You Do?
Get practical. Start with prayer, much prayer. How does God want you to handle this in your home? What will you allow and what won’t you? Get solid through prayer and God’s word on how you feel about this growing trend.
Talk about it. Believe me, it’s possible they have heard it about. Many middle schoolers are talking about ASMR or even trying it with or without their parents knowing. Ask them if they have. But don’t be condemning. Be the safe place where they can talk about these hard things like Biblical Sexuality, Bullying, Pornography, Suicide, ASMR and Transgender issues. Be their authority on these topics SO THAT you can direct them to the ultimate authority – the Bible.
Be Active. Be involved in their lives offline and online. As they branch out be there to guide them and bring them back in as needed.
Let’s give our kids the true “close and personal attention” that they crave and that virtual ASMR can never fulfil. Let’s be connected parents who lead them to Jesus.
So now I’m curious. Are you aware of the growing ASMR trend? What are your thoughts?
Talk to you soon!
O Lord, You have pleaded the case for my soul; You have redeemed my life. Lamentations 3:56