How did middle school become the ‘wild, wild West’?

Middle School

The depth of her pain broke my heart. There wasn’t anything I could do but listen so that’s what I did — then I prayed.

I continue to pray because her wounds are deep. I’m talking affect-you-for-the-rest-of-your-life deep.

Her parents and grandparents are doing everything they know to do to help her. She is loved. She is talented. She is beautiful inside and out, and she has a sweet, compassionate heart but every day of her middle school life is a struggle.

And she isn’t alone.

Four other friends of mine are parents of middle schoolers who are fighting similar battles.

“Middle school is like the wild, wild west,” one friend said as she described the pressure kids experience from other kids as well as what they are being exposed to at such a young age. And suicide is discussed routinely and without reservation, she added.

Another friend was concerned about her daughter recently when she was being shunned by a particular group of girls. Winning the affection of this group was so important to my friend’s daughter that she started acting out trying to impress them.

My friend responded by taking her daughter’s phone away for a significant period of time. The daughter protested angrily at first but by the time the punishment was over she had calmed down and returned to her true nature. She even started hanging out with the family again — and actually enjoyed it.

Connected 24/7

Other friends have noted similar situations and how limiting their kids’ time on phones and social media has made a difference in various areas of concern.

After all, they are connected to their friends 24/7, one friend commented. Not only do they never get a break from each other — and thus a break from the drama — but they also form a dependent community in which they seek guidance, solace and approval, she said.

As she talked, I wondered if the consistent late night texting and chatting could impair the kids’ ability to think clearly. Could it weaken their emotional state? Is it possible a little more sleep and a few hours away from the screens here and there could make those difficult middle school years a bit more bearable?

Whatever you do, don’t tell my nephews and nieces that I’m advocating limiting anyone’s phone time. I might lose my cool aunt status. 

But I am concerned about the emotional state of so many in this age group.

Will the intensity of the pain these middle schoolers are carrying lessen as they make their way to high school? Or will it finally become unbearable?

—Jennifer Davis Rash

5 things I learned about Periscope after my first 5 broadcasts

It’s a new day for journalism and even criminal evidence collection. You no longer need a college degree in either of those fields to potentially break a major story or solve a major crime.

Well, technically you do still need the degree to work in the field, but with the smartiest smart phones ever and the continuing development of social media video apps, we really only need to know how to use the technology available to us and be in the right place at the right time.

My latest schooling is focused on Periscope, Twitter’s social media video app. In facScreen shot 2015-08-17 at 10.35.48 AMt, my last five @RashionalThts tweets were “live on Periscope.” Guess I should chill out a little because I only downloaded and used the app for the first time Saturday afternoon.

My Baptist Communicators Association buddies Kyle and Brian introduced me to Periscope earlier this year, but it was my TAB colleague Wanda who convinced me to actually start using it. She is having lots of fun with it and has great ideas for how we can use it at TAB.

Less than 48 hours into my Periscope world, I have discovered a few things:

  1. The 24-hour news cycle is proven true — it’s old news after that and the Periscope broadcast disappears after 24 hours.
  2. The app is easy to use but there are limitations such as you can only video in portrait mode.
  3. The iPad is better for this app than the iPhone because of its size.
  4. There are Periscope-looking apps available for purchase but they are not the real thing. Remember that Periscope is a free app.
  5. If you are near people who might talk to you, then let them know what you are doing. We are still getting used to people videoing on their phones and tablets much less broadcasting live. How many times have you walked up to someone and started talking or walked in front of someone not realizing they were videoing? Just think if it were live!

Author and virtual mentor Michael Hyatt has more to say on the subject. Click here to see his suggestions for improvements.

What is your experience with Periscope, Meerkat or other social media video apps? What tips do you have?

—Jennifer Davis Rash