Middle School Confidential 2: Real Friends vs the Other Kind

App review by
Leslie Crenna, Common Sense Media
Middle School Confidential 2: Real Friends vs the Other Kind App Poster Image
Graphic novel-style app shares authentic teen scenes, tools.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn self-acceptance, empathy, and assertiveness in a context that acknowledges the difficulty of integrating these skills in emotionally charged social situations. A tuned-in parent could use the stories to spark discussion or even role-play to give kids a chance to practice the skills directly. Audio and dialogue could be more reflective of the emotions in the story line, and the navigation could be a bit smoother. Middle School Confidential 2: Real Friends vs the Other Kind emphasizes resilience, respect, and forgiveness as important building blocks of self-worth and friendships in a way that kids will absorb in spite of themselves.

 

Violence

Some emotional freak-outs and a small bit of what you might call emotional abuse appear, but it's all with the goal of teaching kids how to identify and cope with these issues.

Sex

Despite dating and crush talk there's no actual sex or references to it.

Language
Consumerism

There are other apps in the series available for purchase. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Middle School Confidential 2: Real Friends vs the Other Kind is the second in a three-part series of app-based graphic novels about the trials and tribulations of middle school. It features a large cast of kids: Jack, Jen, Abby, Mateo, Chris, and Michelle, plus a new popular girl, Monique (who asks Jack out even though Chris likes her). The focus is solidly on how to handle and keep friends, but issues such as dating, eating disorders, and going along with popular kids are used as context. Since none of the story lines provides inappropriate details -- only solid tools to handle the issues -- this resource is actually most ideal for kids on the younger side of adolescence.

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What's it about?

Through eight, four-page chapters, the gang encounters personal and friend-related challenges followed by morals and three quizzes that teach strategies such as standing your ground or avoiding hurting other people's feelings. Pages are swipe-able and zoom-able, but tapping to advance is still a bit slow and sometimes unresponsive. The information button at the bottom right leads to a main menu page with navigation hints and chapter navigation as well as access to cast profiles, credits, and author and illustrator profiles.

Is it any good?

MIDDLE SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL: REAL FRIENDS VS THE OTHER KIND is a great tool to catalyze discussion about tricky topics such as interrupting conversations with texts, bossiness, hurt feelings, using people, crush rejections, popularity, dating, problems at home, and breaking up. Real teen issues are presented with respect and emotional authenticity. Characters are alternately tough yet vulnerable, admirable yet fallible. The addition of quizzes -- a sort of mix between social studies class and a teen mag sidebar -- adds tons of engagement value to the experience. As with so many social-skills teaching tools, teens may feel this one is a bit babyish -- and the watercolor illustrations are a far cry from the more popular manga style -- but tweens looking into the abyss of middle school will eat it up. Audio of teen voices and some comic relief would boost the experience, and more content and slightly less preachy dialogue would pull kids in even more.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can discuss the quiz questions and responses plus the given "right" answers. Your kids might come up with alternate answers that work better for your families or for their individual styles.

  • Explore the whole series and ask if there are any parallel situations in your kids' lives. Offer up some age-appropriate stories from your own teen years as well (but make sure they're actually interested first!).

App details

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