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These pages report, but don’t endorse or recommend, what’s hot with preteens.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the task of staying up-to-date on all the latest preteen media trends. That’s where our Keeping Current section saves the day.

What is “Keeping Current”?

In each issue of Children’s Ministry Magazine, we provide a quick overview, as well as our take, on the latest media trends for 10- to 12-year-olds. You’ll find reviews on music, games, apps and websites, books, television shows, and movies.

Want to look up past media reviews? Search through our archive, or search by category for even more reviews:

Lastly, we provide easy-to-share videos summarizing each issue’s media reviews. Keeping Current is a perfect way to help parents stay up-to-date on what their preteens might be exposed to.

An Instagram app on a phone screen.
App/Website

Instagram Party Accounts

The Scoop

Kids as young as middle-school age are now organizing parties through Instagram by creating new, private accounts that parents won’t detect. A new account name might be something along the lines of “BirthdayBash2019!” and it’ll contain information would-be party-goers need to know—that is if they’re invited to the party account. (If the party account follows you back, that means the host really wants you to come.) At times, the parties don’t even come to fruition because of poor planning or because the hosts were using the party account only to gain more followers for their own accounts.

Our Take on Instagram Party Accounts

Kids today usually know more than their parents and teachers about technology and social media hacks. So when they want to get around adults’ restrictions, their creative attempts show up in unexpected ways. When children become sneaky like this, it’s primarily a heart problem. Children’s ministers can encourage open lines of communication with preteens and parents and can strive to develop trust-based relationships. Also, urge parents to keep a close watch on how kids spend their time online.

Check out all of our App and Website Reviews!

For more Keeping Current reviews in every issue, subscribe today to Children’s Ministry Magazine!

The cover image of A Netflix Film "To All the Boys I've Loved Before." It features the movie's main character on a piece of notebook paper and surrounded by doodles in the shape of a heart.
Movie

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

The Scoop

Lara Jean has written love letters to all five of the boys she’s loved in her past—but the letters were never meant to be sent. When her sister finds them and secretly mails them to each boy, shy Lara Jean’s life is turned upside down. Through a series of events, she ends up making a deal with a former crush to have a pretend relationship that benefits them both. While this movie is rated TV-14 in the USA, many preteens are watching it on their own and with parents.

Our Take on To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

While the premise of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is innocent, it’s rated TV-14 for a reason. There is mild language, scenes with alcohol, plenty of talk and references to sex and body parts, and scenes with kissing. That said, the movie does a good job of addressing online bullying, and there are positive messages. For example, Lara Jean makes a no-kissing rule for her pretend boyfriend, and he respects her rule. While we recognize that it has some positive themes, we think the show is too mature for preteens.

Check out all of our movie reviews!

For more Keeping Current reviews in every issue, subscribe today to Children’s Ministry Magazine!

The book cover for Merci Suarex Changes Gears. It has a John Newberry Medal on it the cover. It reads "Pura Belpre Award-winning author, Meg Medina." It also has a quote that from Robin Yardi, that says, "Meg Medina is the Judy Blume for a new generation." On the cover is an illustrated girl riding her bike.
Book

Merci Suárez Changes Gears

The Scoop

Winner of the 2019 Newbery Medal, Merci Suárez Changes Gears tells the story of a Hispanic sixth-grade girl who attends a private school on scholarship. She struggles to fit in, as her family and home situation are much different from most of the other kids at her school. In this coming-of-age story, Merci faces a bully, deals with scary and disappointing news about a close relative, and learns to appreciate her family background

Out Take on Merci Suárez Changes Gears

Merci Suárez Changes Gears can help preteen readers know they’re not alone during the confusing preteen years. Merci and her friends are also trying to figure out who they are and trying to fit in. Readers will laugh, cry, and learn along with Merci. They’ll find positive examples of how to respond to bullies, and they’ll learn to be brave in changing situations. They may even learn something new about a subculture in America through Merci’s family. We recommend the book for middle readers.

Check out all of our book reviews!

For more Keeping Current reviews in every issue, subscribe today to Children’s Ministry Magazine!

An app logo that says "Harry Potter". It features a cartoon version of professor McGonagall and Snape.
Game

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery

The Scoop

The mobile app lets users take their own adventure through the Wizarding World. Players develop unique characters and join one of four houses assigned by the Sorting Hat. They attend various classes and learn to fly, make potions, and cast spells. Kids play this game through a free app (although it includes in-app purchases), available for iOS and Android.

Our Take on Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery

Players get to determine their characters’ personalities and morality; they make choices about how to react to and treat the other characters based on consequences the game clearly spells out. This aspect of the game has the potential to create awareness in kids that they have choices about who they want to be in real life, too. On the other hand, the Harry Potter series is a story about witches and wizards. While preteens are old enough to understand that it’s an imaginary fairy tale, as is the game, it’s good to caution them. For kids who get really entrenched in this fantasy world, have a discussion about good and evil in the real world.

Check out all of our Game Reviews!

For more Keeping Current reviews in every issue, subscribe today to Children’s Ministry Magazine!

The title screen of the show Alexa & Katie. It says "Alexa & Katie: Friendship is the best medicine. A Netflix original series. Netflix | March 23." It features a taller girl back to back with another girl wearing a beanie.
TV

Alexa & Katie

The Scoop

Alexa & Katie, a Netflix original series, is a preteen drama about two teenage friends, one of whom has cancer. The show gives viewers a perspective on what a teenager with cancer goes through while avoiding the scarier aspects of the disease. For example, one episode centers around how Alexa deals with hair loss after chemo. Katie is a loving and supportive friend, and overall the show portrays a positive relationship. The show has some mild language and talk of crushes and dating.

Our Take on Alexa & Katie

While Alexa and Katie aren’t perfect—they do mess up and do unkind things or make wrong choices at times—the show overall has a positive message and may help preteens develop empathy for other kids with chronic sickness or disease. Also, in a time when “mean girl” behavior is becoming more common at earlier ages, the female friendship in this show can encourage preteen girls to be supportive and loving of their friends.

Check out all our TV reviews!

For more Keeping Current reviews in every issue, subscribe today to Children’s Ministry Magazine!

A picture of Post Malone signing.
Music

Post Malone

The Scoop

Twenty-three-year-old music artist Post Malone has had 26 Billboard Hot 100 hits since 2017; six have been in the top 10, and three have hit number one. Riding the line between pop-rap, rock, and hip-hop, Post Malone has been called “one of the most popular musicians in the country” by Rolling Stone magazine. His 2018 sophomore album, Beerbongs & Bentleys, debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and earned him a Grammy nomination and a performance at the Grammys with the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2019.

Our Take on Post Malone

If you’ve heard the recent hit “Better Now” on the radio, you might think his music is tame; this song has no inappropriate language or sexual references. He mentions alcohol once by nickname, but most preteens won’t even recognize the moniker. Nevertheless, however catchy and clean that song may seem to be, don’t be fooled. Post Malone’s music is generally in line with other modern-day rap and hip-hop—it’s filled with inappropriate language, references to alcohol, and sexual references. We don’t recommend it for preteens.

Check out all of our music reviews!

For more Keeping Current reviews in every issue, subscribe today to Children’s Ministry Magazine!

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