Make Sure You Read This Standing Up | May 29, 2020

Make Sure You Read This Standing Up | May 29, 2020

This week, enjoy the premium version of The Culture Translator for free! If you’re like many of our readers, The CT helps you have a deeper understanding of your teen’s world each week, but we want to help you to go even deeper. The All Axis Pass, which includes The Culture Translator Premium, is only only $9.99/month for families (or $99/month for churches, schools, and organizations) and will equip you to have meaningful conversations with your teens on a regular basis. Plus, the All Axis Pass gives you access to every single resource we have ever created and will create! Click here to learn more about the All Axis Pass now!

Three Things This Week

1. 16 Money Tips for Graduating Seniors
What it is: Student loans? Credit cards? Rent? Investing? A recent episode from the BiggerPockets Money Podcast helps young people take a practical and economical approach to their futures.
Why it’s useful: 18-year-olds across the country are looking ahead to when they set off on their own and become more financially responsible and independent. But many of them feel unprepared, since personal finance is not usually covered in depth (or at all!) in high school. And often, parents themselves haven’t had to look at things like school loans, tuition payments, housing, the job market, degrees, and more in so long that they’re not prepared to talk about what makes sense in 2020 and beyond. Because the episode is so practical and realistic, we highly recommend taking an hour to listen. But since they do not come from a Christian perspective and they don’t know your child’s specific circumstances, make sure to listen with your seniors so that you can provide guidance and answer questions afterward.

2. Don't Sit!
What it is: A new study has found that sitting around is linked to higher incidences of symptoms of depression in adolescents, and even an hour of light activity every day can lower their risk for depression.
Why it’s time to move: Perhaps more than ever in history, our lives are built around sitting. We sit to study, use a computer or a device, watch TV or movies, play video games, eat, and travel. We sit at school, at church, in waiting rooms, around a fire...and that’s during normal times! We have all probably found ourselves sitting even more over the last few months. But as the study, which followed more than 4,200 adolescents starting at the age of 12, discovered, “any degree of physical activity that can reduce the time we spend sitting down is likely to be beneficial” to mental health. It doesn’t have to be intense activity, so now’s a good time to get the whole family to go on walks, play backyard sports, and ride bikes.

3. The Threat of Invisibility
What it is: In a new exposé, Insider delves into the new breed of child stars that social media, especially TikTok, is creating...and it’s not all fun and games.
Why it’s foreboding: No matter your child’s age or interests, becoming an “influencer” of some sort is likely something they’ve thought about. And even though it’s easier than ever to make it big, the fame is harder than ever to maintain, and none of the negative side effects of being a child star have diminished. In fact, this new type of fame may exacerbate those problems since the praise and adoration come straight to their phones 24/7. So what do the psychologists in the article recommend parents do to help keep their children grounded and potentially avoid the pitfalls of fame? Only what Axis has said all along! “There has to be reasoned and careful conversations around these things,” and we add that they need to start early.

Sounds of Summer

Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, nothing is more reliable and seasonally predictable than the annual release of the summer song. Light, nostalgic, energetic, it makes you feel like you’re on vacation even though you’re still in lock-down. Summer sounds are often as fleeting as the season itself, yet they are created specifically for this epic moment of freedom, fun, and sun. Do you happen to remember the summer songs of your youth? Maybe it was Frank Sinatra’s “Summer Wind,” Seals & Crofts’ “Summer Breeze,” or Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer.” Whatever it was, these hits are made to capture hearts, providing the backdrop for that summer crush, that vacation to the beach, or that amazing week at camp. Even today, when that song happens to pop up on Spotify or the radio, it takes you right back to that moment, those smells, and maybe even that first kiss.

So this year, as your teens break out of quarantine, here are the top 8 songs competing for the elusive prize as this summer’s biggest hit. And although many of these songs dropped this spring and have thus slid down The Hot 100 Chart, they are still primed to become that long-remembered, favorite sound of the summer of 2020.

  1. Intentions” by Justin Bieber ft. Quavo: Chill, laid-back song with a beautiful story. Perfect for cruising with the windows and top down.
  2. Baby Girl” (warning: graphic) by Bryce Vine ft. Jeremih: You’ll be hearing this song in your sleep, on repeat.
  3. Yo Perreo Sola”(warning: language) by Bad Bunny: Um, not sure what to say. Your teen will either love or utterly loathe this song by the game-changing Puerto Rican singer and rapper.
  4. Cool” by Dua Lipa: Quintessential sound of the season. It’s our bet to rise back up the charts as the days get hotter and longer.
  5. Savage Remix” (warning:language, lots of language) by Megan Thee Stallion ft. Beyoncé: This repetitive hit about female empowerment has already sparked viral TikTok dance routines.
  6. Adore You” by Harry Styles: A groovy, feel-good tune that makes the perfect backdrop for a summer fling.
  7. Me & You Together Song” (warning: suggestive) by The 1975: A throwback to the sound of ‘90s pop-rock, this nostalgic hit about unrequited love is sure to pull at your teen’s love-sick heartstrings.
  8.  “F*ck The World (Summer in London)” (warning: graphic language) by Brent Faiyez: With hazy vocals and raw lyrics, this title track from Faiyez’s latest album will appeal to the inner rebel.


A broader look at the world that teens inhabit.
Skim our summary or click the links to read more.
Engage your teens in conversation about their world.

They said it best:

“If you are a stranger to prayer, you are a stranger to the greatest source of power known to human beings.”—Billy Sunday, Billy Sunday: The Man and His Message



1. Online censorship continues to be a flashpoint in the wider cultural discussion this week. How do tech giants plan to flag disinformation on their platforms without things devolving into a giant, partisan mess? Short answer: As of now, there is no plan. YouTube came under fire this week for accidentally acting as a censorship proxy for the Communist Party of China (CCP), deleting video comments that were critical of that government. This glitch, which users detected as early as October 2019, was only fixed recently. Remind your teen that the sentiments they see expressed on social media are being tampered with and therefore not reflective of reality at large.

2. The “influencer economy” on Instagram has been mostly based off of affiliate links and brand partnerships for the past several years, but now Instagram is looking to shake up this long-standing ecosystem. They are currently testing a program that will pay influencers directly for the content they create on the platform. Influencers and Instagram will split the profits 55/45, which may prove to be quite lucrative for some content creators. This is another step toward legitimizing the “influencer” career path, but it also means that content on IG will become less “authentic” than ever.

Pop Culture


3. Television consumption over the past few months has been off the charts, so what has everyone been watching? This list of Gen Z’s & Millennials’ (ages 13 to 37) favorite shows right now may surprise you. The data, collected throughout the month of May, showed that teen mystery drama Outer Banks, family sports drama All American, reruns of NBC’s The Office, animated sitcom Rick and Morty, and nostalgic thriller Stranger Things were the top ranking shows among 13- to 18-year-olds. That’s a pretty wide spectrum of content, showing the diverse tastes of Gen Z.

4. So why are 13- to 18-year-olds so obsessed with the American adaptation of British comedy hit The Office? Though the show came to an end seven years ago, today’s teens have an enduring love for the sitcom. Vanity Fair published a piece last year exploring why Gen Z stars like Billie Eilish find The Office a grounding artifact: It’s comforting in its mundanity and offers a sincere glimpse into a world they’ve heard of but have yet to live inside.

Social Media

5. Would warring factions of TikTok “cults” ever have come to prominence without the lockdown restrictions? The world may never know. Tribes of Gen Zers have flocked to join charismatic, bizarre online gangs with names like “The Step-Chickens.” You may be relieved to read that these “cults” aren’t about religious fervor as much as they are about devotion to a “cult-like” figurehead. That is, they’re less about dogma and more about memes. But some bored teens have flung themselves headfirst into the identity politics of belonging to these seemingly random groups online. Even during a pandemic, it’s clear that teens are very much still hungry for places to belong.

Teen Culture

Latest Statistics

6. With more than 40 million Americans unemployed, summer jobs for teens may be scarce this season. High school and college students are already referring to upcoming months as “The Summer of Nothing” as confusion over lockdown restrictions reigns. But a psychologist quoted in the article points out that having internships and summer jobs deferred does not have to be such a bad thing. Time emptied of obligations can become time to cultivate hobbies, work on developing character, and, for Christians, spend extra time in prayer and meditation. This will require an attitude adjustment—one your teen might not be willing to make until they have grieved the loss of their unfulfilled expectations. Remind your teen that building a summer of productivity and passion projects is still possible, and opportunities will still be waiting on the other side of the warmer months.


General Observations

7. Jonathan Steingard, frontman of power pop Christian band Hawk Nelson, posted a lengthy note on Instagram announcing that he no longer believes in God. (You would likely recognize Hawk Nelson from their CCM radio hit, “Drops in the Ocean.”) In the heartbreaking post, Jonathan described his faith over the past few years as a slowly unravelling sweater, saying he simply woke up one day to find that he didn’t have any left. Jonathan’s story isn’t the norm, but it’s starting to feel like it as many prominent Christians have followed this trajectory of walking away from their faith. If you want to have a conversation with your teen about this, remind them that they can bring their doubts—about life, about faith, about anything—to you. Creating a safe space for teens to voice their questions about who God is is essential to giving their faith a fighting chance.

Tip of the Week

8. The stark loneliness of digital togetherness has come into sharp contrast over the past three months. FaceTime, Zoom, and Skype simply don’t replace in-person gatherings. Sometimes virtual gatherings even reinforce the feeling of social isolation, according to psychologists who are studying the effects of the pandemic. It’s possible that over the next few months, teens will be less and less inclined to fire up their video chat apps as a deep sense of longing and loss takes over. If your teen has had a mega-dose of screen time from March to May, be ready to break out the family board games and renew the sense of physical connection that your teens may be starving for. This might be your best shot in years at getting your teens to put down their phones and look at each other’s faces.

Keep the Faith!

The Axis Team

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