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Culture Connection — A Family Ministry Resource

July 19, 2024

Nobody Wants To Be Real

What it is: An article in The Free Press documents the rise and fall of the social media app BeReal, examining why it never took off the way it could have. 

Why it’s unfortunate: The stated intention of BeReal was to inject social media with a dose of reality. At random times each day the app’s notification would go off, and users would (theoretically) take a picture of whatever they were doing at that moment, showcasing what their actual lives were like in-between the “highlight reels” often posted on other social media platforms. But because this still so easily felt like a competition, many users started waiting to post their BeReal until they were doing something more interesting—which defeated the app’s entire purpose. “BeReal… overestimated users’ interest in reality,” Jonas Du writes. “For a brief moment, we experienced sobriety with BeReal, before falling back into the comfort of endless scrolling on the sparklier apps.”

This week’s Culture Connection comes from The Culture Translator, a weekly email sent by Axis. Axis exists to build lifelong faith by helping parents and caring adults talk with their kids about what they otherwise wouldn’t, one conversation at a time. You can subscribe to this resource here.

July 11, 2024

Slang of the Week: “Dusty”

Dusty” can mean multiple things, but luckily, they all share the word’s original meaning: to be covered in dust. For many young people, the term has evolved to refer to someone who is maybe a little older or slightly out-of-touch. They’re “dusty” like a cup in the back of a cupboard that’s been forgotten. It also refers to someone who is past their prime or out of practice.   

This week’s Culture Connection comes from The Culture Translator, a weekly email sent by Axis. Axis exists to build lifelong faith by helping parents and caring adults talk with their kids about what they otherwise wouldn’t, one conversation at a time. You can subscribe to this resource here.

June 28, 2024

A Cautionary Tale

What it is: US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy is urging Congress to require a warning label on social media platforms. 

Why it’s such a big deal: Public concern over teen technology use has reached a fever pitch. During his tenure as Surgeon General, Dr. Murthy has issued warnings about the loneliness crisis and the teen mental health crisis—and emerging research connects social media to both of these big issues. The US Office of Health and Human Services also issued an advisory this week, pointing to several studies suggesting we don’t really have evidence that social media is “sufficiently” safe for teens to use at all, even if there are some benefits. Social media isn’t just any other product, so plenty of questions linger over how the proposed warning label would be implemented, how tech companies might challenge it, and if it would have the desired effect.

This week’s Culture Connection comes from The Culture Translator, a weekly email sent by Axis. Axis exists to build lifelong faith by helping parents and caring adults talk with their kids about what they otherwise wouldn’t, one conversation at a time. You can subscribe to this resource here.

June 21, 2024

Fizzing Out

What it is: A new anonymous, private messaging app called Fizz is, perhaps unsurprisingly, wreaking havoc in high schools and colleges.

Why it’s causing trouble: The Stanford students who designed Fizz call it “an uplifting digital space for Gen Z.” In reality, it has become a place to spread rumors, cyberbully, and share harmful photos, as one high school in Vermont learned. Apps designed to be anonymous message boards often become havens for the worst impulses of humanity (see: YikYak). These apps can create a catch-22 for teens, who may feel the need to make sure people aren’t talking about them on the app, which, in turn, increases app engagement. Fizz can provide fuel for conversations about integrity and how we behave when no-one is looking, but it’s also a space in culture where parents and trusted adults might advise teens to simply opt out.

This week’s Culture Connection comes from The Culture Translator, a weekly email sent by Axis. Axis exists to build lifelong faith by helping parents and caring adults talk with their kids about what they otherwise wouldn’t, one conversation at a time. You can subscribe to this resource here.

June 14, 2024

Relig-ish

What it is: In a generation marked by ennui and existential dread, more and more young people are turning to therapeutic practices that look suspiciously like traditional religion for comfort and security.

Why it’s appealing: GIRLS writer Freya India comments that several of the activities that hold Gen Zers’ interest appear to be God-free religion: “We don’t pray at night; we repeat positive affirmations. We don’t confess; we trauma dump. We don’t seek salvation; we go on healing journeys.” India notes that without the backbone of faith, these practices are just meant to make the penitent feel better; but declining mental health statistics tell us it isn’t working. Without the parts of religion that exist outside of us—the Church, Scripture, and above all an omnipotent God—spirituality is an exercise in futility.

This week’s Culture Connection comes from The Culture Translator, a weekly email sent by Axis. Axis exists to build lifelong faith by helping parents and caring adults talk with their kids about what they otherwise wouldn’t, one conversation at a time. You can subscribe to this resource here.

June 7, 2024

FindMySense

What it is: “Location sharing” with friends and family members has become totally normalized. But does the practice actually keep us safe?

Why it’s contentious: On one hand there’s the idea that wanting privacy is akin to wanting secrecy—it implies that you have something to hide. On the other hand there’s the idea that the freedom to come and go unobserved is an essential component of human flourishing and happiness. Parents who track their teens’ locations may do so with the hope of averting potential disaster by adding that extra layer of accountability. Still, it begs the question: if character is who you are when nobody’s watching, what happens when you’re always being watched?

This week’s Culture Connection comes from The Culture Translator, a weekly email sent by Axis. Axis exists to build lifelong faith by helping parents and caring adults talk with their kids about what

May 24, 2024

Teens Self-Diagnosing Mental Illness

Teenagers are increasingly using social media to self-diagnose their mental health issues, alarming parents and advocates who say actual care should be easier to access.  A poll by EdWeek Research Center released this week found 55 percent of students use social media to self-diagnose, and 65 percent of teachers say they’ve seen the phenomenon in their classrooms.

Experts said they have regularly observed the practice too, and that the solution is not as simple as taking away phones or chastising teenagers who turn to free methods to receive mental health advice when more comprehensive assistance may be difficult to get.  “Kids are all coming in and I’m asking them, ‘Where did you get this diagnosis?’” said Don Grant, national adviser for healthy device management at Newport Healthcare. Grant said he would get responses such as “Oh, there’s an influencer,” “Oh, I took a quiz,” or “Oh, there’s a group on social media that talks about it.”  

Influencers and online groups are “convincing these kids they have all these diagnoses,” he said.

And with their amateur diagnoses in hand, teenager might not only fail to understand their actual problems, they could pursue solutions — or even medications — that aren’t right for them.

This week’s Culture Connection is an excerpt from an article by Lexi Lonas posted at thehill.com titled, ‘Teens’ latest social media trend? Self-diagnosing their mental health issues.’

May 17, 2024

What it is: Gallup polling data has found a huge spike in the percentage of Americans who say they get less sleep than they need. Survey results also indicate an increase in Americans’ daily stress.

Why it’s news you can use: This data indicates that when you interact with anyone—in a store, on the road, at work, or in church—there’s a decent chance that particular human is feeling both exhausted and stressed out. The odds of this stress/exhaustion matrix are even higher if you are conversing with a young woman aged 18 to 29. In 2001, 42% of young women in that bracket said they get enough sleep, but that number has dropped to 27%. Younger women are also the most likely to say they experience daily stress. Stress and sleep have a symbiotic relationship, and parents should understand how both factors play a role in teens’ mental health.

This week’s Culture Connection comes from The Culture Translator, a weekly email sent by Axis. Axis exists to build lifelong faith by helping parents and caring adults talk with their kids about what they otherwise wouldn’t, one conversation at a time. You can subscribe to this resource here.

May 10, 2024

Under Protest

What it is: Students at several US campuses continued to protest the war in Gaza by camping out on school grounds. 

What it means for Gen Z: The stated desire of many student groups is for their universities to cut financial ties with Israel. It is worth noting that not every protestor has the same motivation, not everyone present at university protests is a student, and these protests are not limited to the United States. There has also been a spate of arrests as police worked to clear some encampments, as well as reports of violence and antisemitism on school grounds. Many Gen Zers have expressed that the crackdown on these protests is a violation of their civil liberties, a sentiment that could be fueling the fire of more protests. The Class of 2024, who entered university as freshmen during the COVID-19 pandemic are now facing a graduation season filled with political anxiety in a polarized campus environment—a particularly tumultuous conclusion to their unique academic experience that they may see as cruel and unfair.

This week’s Culture Connection comes from The Culture Translator, a weekly email sent by Axis. Axis exists to build lifelong faith by helping parents and caring adults talk with their kids about what they otherwise wouldn’t, one conversation at a time. You can subscribe to this resource here.

April 26, 2024

She Shoots, She Scores

What it is: WNBA superstar Caitlin Clark has hit the mainstream, fueling conversations about women in sports. 


Why it’s a bigger conversation: The former Iowa Hawkeye has taken the world by storm, securing a spot with the Indiana Fever as the number 1 pick in the WNBA draft on Monday. She’s also secured a lucrative endorsement deal with Nike. The contract is worth more than $20 million, boosting Clark’s starting rookie salary, which has raised criticism for its low numbers. Without said contract, her salary would have been a little over $75k, whereas in the NBA, the first draft pick is expected to make around $10.5 million in year one. Despite this discrepancy, as well as some run-ins with weird reporters and creepy fellow-athletes, Clark has maintained a level head, saying she chooses to “focus on the opinions of the people inside our locker room. That’s what I really care about. The people that I love to death. The people that have had my back every single second of my career.”

This week’s Culture Connection comes from The Culture Translator, a weekly email sent by Axis. Axis exists to build lifelong faith by helping parents and caring adults talk with their kids about what they otherwise wouldn’t, one conversation at a time. You can subscribe to this resource here.

April 19, 2024

Tween’s Most Used Slang Words – According to Them

Trying to keep up with tween slang might just be the cringiest thing for all parties involved. It’s an awkward ride that often leaves adults asking, “what did they just say?!” It’s easy to get lost in a sea of “bruhs,” “slays,” and “bussins,” especially when 11-year-olds laugh at you for using it wrong. YPulse asked tweens what their most used slang words are in 2024 so brands can emerge with a newfound understanding of the youngest of consumers. Here are the 10 most-used slang words among tweens right now—according to them:

  • Bra / Bro / Bruh
  • Cap
  • Slay
  • Cool
  • Rizz
  • Sus
  • Bussin
  • Wassup
  • Lit
  • Yo

 

This week’s Culture Connection comes from YPulse. They are a company that provides research content to companies and organizations with strategic insight on how to reach the next generation. Their stated purpose is to fully and completely understand what the world looks like from the perspective of young people, demystifying youth for brands.

April 12, 2024

Absent Minded

What it is: Data from the American Enterprise Institute found that during the 2022-2023 school year, 26% of students met the definition of “chronically absent,” meaning they missed ten percent or more of the school year. 


Who it impacts: The AEI data shows a 75% jump in chronic absenteeism from pre-pandemic baseline attendance rates. This trend of chronic absenteeism has educators worried that middle and high schoolers nationwide are disengaged from the learning process. This increase in student absences is hitting schools in high poverty districts the hardest, but it’s happening everywhere. It’s possible that COVID school closures made school feel more optional, reordering the way that students, and their families, see in-person class time on their list of priorities. It’s also possible that these absentee rates are related to the spike in behavioral problems educators have observed since 2021.

This week’s Culture Connection comes from The Culture Translator, a weekly email sent by Axis. Axis exists to build lifelong faith by helping parents and caring adults talk with their kids about what they otherwise wouldn’t, one conversation at a time. You can subscribe to this resource here.

March 29, 2024

Babysitter’s Snub

What it is: Babysitting, once seen as a rite of passage for young girls, is on the decline in the US.

Why it’s happening: The Atlantic suggests two main reasons that fewer young people are racking up babysitting hours as their first independent source of income. First, the rise of what’s known as intensive parenting—a philosophy that micromanages kids’ time for maximum learning, education, and enrichment, leaving little kids and their would-be-sitters with precious little idle time left over. The second reason implicates society, in general, as Americans have grown more suspicious, more risk-averse, and less community-oriented, meaning parents might not know any teens they trust enough to ask to watch their kids during a night out. 

This week’s Culture Connection comes from The Culture Translator, a weekly email sent by Axis. Axis exists to build lifelong faith by helping parents and caring adults talk with their kids about what they otherwise wouldn’t, one conversation at a time. You can subscribe to this resource here.

March 22, 2024

FAFSA Fail

What it is: An attempt to make the FAFSA form easier to complete has resulted in chaos and delays.

Why it’s holding families up: If your teen has been waiting to hear back on their federal financial aid application, they are far from alone. In the past, most colleges expected that their incoming class of freshmen would make a commitment by a deadline of May 1. But this year, many college seniors do not yet have the information they need to make an informed decision—specifically, the financial aid estimate from the US government. Without this estimate, many students are still unclear on whether or not they can actually afford the college they would like to attend. Some colleges are extending their deadlines while students wait in limbo. Meanwhile, the US Department of Education is still wading through its backlog of potentially millions of applications.

This week’s Culture Connection comes from The Culture Translator, a weekly email sent by Axis. Axis exists to build lifelong faith by helping parents and caring adults talk with their kids about what they otherwise wouldn’t, one conversation at a time. You can subscribe to this resource here.

March 15, 2024

BC Goes OTC

What it is: For the first time, a daily birth control pill will be available over the counter with no age restriction in drugstores, supermarkets, and online.

What parents need to know: This particular medication, Opill, is the only daily birth control that has FDA approval for distribution without a prescription. Opill is a progestin-only pill that costs about $20 for a month’s supply, and the FDA decided that the way it is labeled gives consumers enough information to use it safely without a doctor’s oversight. Other types of birth control pills will still require a prescription—for now. A survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2022 indicated that consumer interest in birth control available over the counter was huge, with two in five women saying they would be likely to choose OTC birth control if it became an option. An easy-to-obtain and affordable monthly pill might further shape the way teens think about pregnancy prevention and their own sexuality.

This week’s Culture Connection comes from The Culture Translator, a weekly email sent by Axis. Axis exists to build lifelong faith by helping parents and caring adults talk with their kids about what they otherwise wouldn’t, one conversation at a time. You can subscribe to this resource here.

March 7, 2024

High Roller

What it is: Crunchyroll, a streaming service owned by Sony and dedicated solely to anime, is the fastest-growing streaming service at the moment.

Why it makes sense: In an interview with The Verge, Crunchyroll’s president explained that their strategy doesn’t seek to introduce anime to new audiences, just to capitalize on the huge audience that already exists. That’s a huge demographic: as of last year, 42% of Gen Z surveyed by Polygon say they watch anime regularly. The fan community for this type of content is diverse, and the anime format continues to push into different types of storytelling. The same survey showed that 39% of Gen Z’s anime viewers consider themselves part of the LGBTQ+ community, and over 50% of Gen Z fans of the genre said that watching anime influences their identity. Netflix and Crunchyroll are currently in first and second, respectively.

This week’s Culture Connection comes from The Culture Translator, a weekly email sent by Axis. Axis exists to build lifelong faith by helping parents and caring adults talk with their kids about what they otherwise wouldn’t, one conversation at a time. You can subscribe to this resource here.

February 23, 2024

Declarations of Codependence

What it is: In a newly published survey, Pew Research found that young adults appear to be more dependent on their parents emotionally, physically, and financially than previous generations were.

What it reflects: This report shows us how the milestones individuals use to define themselves as “independent” are evolving. More young adults are employed full-time today than were in 1993—yet about a third of young adults live with their parents. Many are choosing to delay having children (and young men are more likely than young women to say they want to have children someday). Fewer than half of adults under 30 say they are financially independent from their parents, and the huge majority of those surveyed said they rely on their parents for advice and emotional support. One in four parents told Pew Research that they even use GPS if only on occasion, to track their young adult children. Interestingly, this dependence isn’t something young people seem to be resentful of; 82% of young adults define their relationship with their parents, on the whole, as good or excellent.

This week’s Culture Connection comes from The Culture Translator, a weekly email sent by Axis. Axis exists to build lifelong faith by helping parents and caring adults talk with their kids about what they otherwise wouldn’t, one conversation at a time. You can subscribe to this resource here.

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