Vol. 5 Issue 34 | August 23, 2019 Premium

Three Things This Week

1. Ghosted

What it is: MTV’s hyping its new show Ghosted: Love Gone Missing ahead of its Sept. 10 premiere, but the Internet isn’t here (language) for it.

Why it’s getting backlash: Referencing the slang for what happens when a romantic interest suddenly stops responding to all communication, the show helps real people find their “ghosts” in order to find out why they disappeared and left them hurt, confused, and sometimes unable to move on. In case you didn’t catch it, yes, the show’s hosts stalk—no, hunt down—someone who clearly doesn’t want to be found…on TV. But that may be precisely why someone wants to watch. Ghosting victims may have spent hours fantasizing about finding the offender and getting some level of revenge/closure, so seeing it happen for others might be cathartic in some small way. Teens need our wisdom to know how to handle breakups maturely and how to move on even when it’s tough.

2. Escape the Vape

What it is: Between June 28 and August 20, 149 people (mostly adolescents and young adults) have developed a mysterious lung disease, and according to the CDC, every person involved vapes.

Why it’s not surprising: A cause has yet to be determined, though they believe an infectious disease can be ruled out. Of course, more information is needed to know exactly what’s happening, but it’s proving that vaping may not be the “safe” alternative to smoking it’s been so heavily marketed to be. And though more teens than ever are vaping (often without their parents knowledge), the negative impact is just starting to be known. If your teen starts experiencing any strange symptoms after using tobacco products, you can report them to the FDA here. And whether you think your teens are vaping or not, it’s becoming more imperative to help them see beyond the fruity flavors and clever marketing to the truth of vaping. (Our Parent’s Guide to Vaping can help.)

3. Off-Facebook Activity

What it is: Facebook’s long-awaited privacy feature is finally live (in some countries; U.S. still pending) and is, well, misleading.

Why it’s not quite what was promised: Marketed as a way for users to control what happens with their data, the feature simply shows users what data Facebook receives about their browsing activity on other platforms and allows them to disconnect it from their identifying info. Notice we didn’t say “delete it”; the data will stay on FB’s servers anonymously, and even if you choose to disconnect all future activity, it will always take 48 hours to disconnect. If your teens aren’t on FB, this still affects them since FB owns their beloved Instagram. It’s a good reminder to talk with them about our information economy, what digital privacy is versus what it should be, and why free isn’t always a good thing. They are, after all, the ones who will shape digital privacy laws and practices in the future.

Fall Video Game Releases

If your teen gamer is already totally over Fortnite Season X’s much-hated mechs, or if they’re not the build+shoot type, here are some of the biggest games to know about this fall. Warning: Some trailers linked below have strong language or show graphic violence.

1. Control (rated M. PC, PS4, XB1. Aug 27)

Trailer. Eerie, mysterious, story-driven single-player action-adventure. Players use supernatural abilities to combat otherworldly threats.

2. NBA2k20 (rated E. PC, PS4, XB1, Switch. Sept 6)

Trailer. The next release in the basketball simulator franchise.

3. Gears 5 (rated M. XB1 exclusive. Sept 10)

Trailer. The Gears of War franchise is known for its gritty action. Has competitive, cooperative, and now creative play (like Fortnite).

4. Borderlands 3 (rated M. PC, PS4, XB1. Sept 13)

Trailer. Highly anticipated. Comedic, high-octane, single-player or cooperative action.

5. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Breakpoint (rated M. PC, PS4, XB1. Oct 4)

Trailer. Tactical military action. Single-player or cooperative story mode, with competitive multiplayer.

6. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (rated M. PC, PS4, XB1. Oct 25)

Trailer. The long-running, fast-action shooter series is best known for its competitive multiplayer, but this release also includes a single-player campaign and co-op missions.

7. The Outer Worlds (rated M. PC, PS4, XB1. Oct 25)

Trailer. Sci-fi adventure shooter in which players can choose to be good or evil. If your gamer loved the Fallout series, they’ll probably want this one.

8. Death Stranding (rated M. PS4 exclusive. Nov 8)

Trailer. Loooong-awaited and strange sci-fi/supernatural action-adventure. Narrative driven, stars the likenesses and voice acting of Norman Reedus, Mads Mikkelsen, and others.

9. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order(most likely rated T. PC, PS4, XB1. Nov 15)

Trailer. Single-player action-adventure for, you know, Star Wars fans.

10. Doom Eternal (rated M. PC PS4 XB1. Nov 22)

Trailer. The latest in the gruesome demon-slaying franchise that helped define the first-person shooter.

BONUS: Google Stadia

Google’s game streaming platform will be here in November. Your gamer can play console-exclusive games without having to own all the consoles (less money out of your pocket!), BUT getting access to exclusive games will cost a monthly fee (more money out of your pocket).


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:

“Fair is whatever God wants to do.”

Leif Enger, Peace Like a River

Pop Culture


1. The Spider-Verse just got a whole lot smaller. Due to a snag in contract negotiations between Disney-owned Marvel Studios and Sony’s film production arm, the future of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man character is quite dubious at the moment. Avengers franchise fans are feeling pretty dramatic about this, calling for boycotts of Sony and bracing for the worst on Twitter. The worst being, in this case, no more Spider-Man movies starring Tom Holland. If your teen is in their feelings about this, feel free to remind them that chances are this is just a negotiation tactic, one that studio execs use all the time and not unlike a game of chicken. (On second thought, don’t tell your newly licensed teen about the game of chicken.)

Social Media

2. Proving that everyone falls in love sometimes—even influencers—YouTube megastar PewDiePie got married this past week. As far as influencer power couples go, PewDiePie and his now-wife, Marzia, are about as high up the chain as you can get, and some celebrity websites have called this event YouTube’s version of the Royal Wedding. The wedding was expensive and certainly feeds into the whole wedding-industrial-complex ideal that can give teens wildly untenable expectations about adult life.

3. If you’d like to understand the vlogger whom The Atlantic has called “the most important YouTuber today,” start with this video diary shot by Vogue. In the video, Emma Chamberlain (whom we’ve covered here before) talks about her original goals with vlogging, who her ideal audience is, and why she keeps at it. Chamberlain is known for her direct address to the camera, speaking to it as “a buddy,” as well as her candid disposition and somewhat unpredictable on-screen antics. Watching her might remind you of the teens in your life, and for good reason—Emma doesn’t set out to present an unattainable standard, and she’s not claiming to be pursuing a perfect life.


4. If you fell for the Instagram copy-and-paste hoax this week, you’re not alone. In fact, the image was re-uploaded by everyone from Niall Horan (One Direction) to Rob Lowe. Plenty of otherwise even-keeled and intelligent adults were taken in by the scary language of the hoax, which claimed that Instagram was going to make all private communications public for any user who didn’t post a supposed “opt-out” clause to their feed. But this is just the latest iteration of a chain-letter style post we’ve seen before on almost every social media platform. And if you reposted the message, at least take comfort in knowing that your kids didn’t publically make fun of you, like Rob Lowe’s sons did.

5. Crystals like rose quartz and tourmaline are surging in popularity. So should your teen be allowed to have them? While many people wear crystals for completely innocuous reasons such as “they look nice,” some others subscribe to the notion that certain crystals have spiritual properties. So-called “healing crystals” also play into the highly emphasized idea of self-care and wellness that Gen Z is exposed to. Have a talk with your teen about what the Bible says about crystals as an opportunity to remind them that believing in the supernatural powers of any object is idolatry.

Global Awareness

6. The Amazon rainforest is burning. Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, is covered in dark smoke. And this is far more than the mild, low-intensity burning that happens as a natural part of a forest’s life cycle. Most of these fires, experts have said, were started by humans. The ecological ramifications aren’t yet clear, but it’s probably safe to say that it will not be good. The Amazon rainforest, after all, makes 20% of the oxygen on earth. Even if your teen isn’t particularly eco-conscious, chances are that they’re aware of the Amazon fire and the other forest fires raging all over the world at the moment, thanks to an especially hot July. Have a conversation with your teen about climate change, and see if you can learn anything from each other. Many members of Gen Z feel like “saving the planet” is entirely up to them. Make your teen feel that state of the world they will inherit is something important to you.

Teen Culture

Latest Statistics

7. Young adults—including Gen Z—are less trusting of traditional institutions and civic leaders than other Americans, according to the latest data from Pew. To sum up another one of the study’s key points, nearly half of young adults are likely to see other people as selfish, exploitative, and out to take advantage of them. Meanwhile, adults over 65 are far less likely to carry this sort of belief. It’s possible that as our teens grow older, their level of interpersonal trust will increase. But researchers are divided on how much of the cynicism and misanthropy is simply generational and will cling to Gen Z throughout their lives.


8. While young people are becoming more sober-curious and less likely to binge on alcohol, it’s still worth keeping on top of the trends in what people are drinking. This summer has been declared the “summer of White Claw” and other hard seltzer beverages. What’s tricky about these hard seltzers is that there are about a million different brands and variations of them, with new ones launching all the time. And hard seltzer looks very, very similar to regular seltzer. This great piece on Vox The Goods dives into the reasons why this drink is trending. You can also check out our Parent’s Guide to Teens and Alcohol for strategies on how to discuss this topic with your child.

Tip of the Week

9. If your teen has a smartphone, it probably has a tracking feature. So should you use it to track your teen?

Any relationship is changed profoundly when two people have unfettered access to each other’s comings and goings. A recent story found that more and more young people see location-tracking their “mutuals” (a group of close friends) as the norm. There’s obviously a just-for-fun aspect to this kind of information; it can be funny to tease your friend who keeps hitting up Wendy’s after track practice. There’s also a definitive safety feature built into tracking. Instead of asking a friend to “call when they get home” to assure you that all friends have arrived home safely, you can simply check their pinpoint on a map. Many panicked texts and missed connections have been avoided with this deceptively simple feature.

We say “deceptively” because while the act of turning tracking on your phone with an app like FindMyFriend may be simple, the ethics of tracking your child are not. Of course you might want to track your 10-year-old’s journey home on the school bus, if you’re able to. And it is natural to want to make sure your 13-year-old is staying put at the sleepover she said she was going to be at. But it’s not like you’re ever going to wake up one day and decide that you don’t care where your child is anymore. There is no magical birthday or sweet spot of trust where it starts to feel like your child is out of harm’s reach. The temptation becomes to leave location tracking on indefinitely.

This is a tricky issue and, in some ways, uncharted territory. We aren’t here to advocate for an age-cutoff for phone tracking. But some self-awareness is important here. At some point (ideally sooner rather than later), you can ask your teen how they feel about having their location known to you at all times. Ask them if you feel like this is helping to build trust between the two of you or harming your relationship. And spend time reflecting on your own reasons for tracking your child. Is it because of a breach of trust in the past? A significant safety concern? Or is it because, in our chaotic world, it’s so easy to believe that something we know (like a person’s location) is something we can therefore control?

Keep the Faith!

The Axis Team

Editor’s Note: Axis links to many different sources within this e-newsletter; a link does not equal an endorsement. We cannot guarantee the content of each site (especially its ads). Please be forewarned. Also, we highly recommend something like AdBlock.