Back to the future

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In honour of last week being the date that Marty McFly went into the future, we watched the triology of the Back to the Future movies with our kids.

The predictions made with what technology we would have embraced by now were a mixed bag. We don’t have hover boards or flying cars, we do have drone cameras but we certainly don’t have faxes in every room of our house – this technology that was deemed cutting edge in the 1980s is now redundant.

Back in the 1980s, little did they know that we would all walk around with smart phones so that all the information in the world would be available at our fingertips or that we could be in contact with all our cyber friends around the clock.

Our kids are growing up overloaded with information. They will never experience the effort required to complete an assignment by going to the library, finding an encyclopedia and researching information from a book.

I have noticed a correlation between the amount of time our kids spend on technology and a sense of lethargy as well as a decline in their behaviour. A few weeks ago my husband ‘forced’ our son to go for a bike ride with him. Our son whined about wanting to just relax and watch tv and was adamant that he didn’t want to go riding. The more he lay around doing nothing, the more his behaviour deteriorated. Eventually my husband told him that he didn’t have a choice and within a few minutes of them riding together, our son had broken free of his foul mood and was enjoying doing exercise outside in the fresh air.

As much as technology is enriching our lives, it is also trapping us by keeping us glued to screens when we could be doing things that are more productive.

I wonder what technology will be adopted in the next thirty years and whether future generations will adapt to have stooped necks and calloused fingers from continual use of their phones?

What’s your prediction?

(Photo courtesy of kdshutterman, freedigitalphotos.net)

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Quality over quantity

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Our teenagers are growing up in a world quite different to the one that we encountered at the same age. With the invention of social media, I’ve seen the worrying trend of my teenage daughters and their friends, judging their worth based upon the number of ‘friends’/followers that they have on social media. They are constantly assessing whether photos or comments posted are rating well, expecting them to reach an acceptable level of likes in a certain amount of time. That’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself! As if being a teenager isn’t already fraught with insecurity, imagine getting instant results on how popular or likeable your posts are.

I once saw a girl on social media comment that a selfy with a sarcastic comment about her looks had got minimal likes while a picture of pizza had scored more highly. I commented to the girl that her perception was a bit skewed. If lots of people liked the photo where she basically called herself ugly then she would have thought that they agreed with her. I told her that obviously her friends wouldn’t agree with that comment, therefore wouldn’t have liked it, while everyone loves a good slice of pizza!

One of the incentives to have a large number of followers on social media seems to be the associated perks. My daughter’s friend has around 15,000 followers and is constantly being sent free clothing and merchandise, being asked to tag the retailers in her photos. As is to be expected, where there is love there is hate. Whilst the majority of people like her and are positive, there are the haters that are rude and mean in their comments. No person wants to hear cruel words aimed at them, particularly for doing something as mundane as posting a photo.

I’ve always told my kids to only accept requests on social media from people who are their friends. I think a good litmus test is to ask yourself whether you would cross the street to talk to a person – if you would, then accept their friendship request, if not then why would you want to invite them into your personal world? Unfortunately, although these are my beliefs, teens have a different perception. Their worth is linked to the number of followers, and in turn the number of likes their posts receive, so whether their mother has lectured them on safety in social media, they are more concerned with perceived popularity than cyber safety.

As a parent you can’t bury your head in the sand when it comes to changing technology, but rather you should try to embrace it. I’m an advocate of having your kids as friends on social media and having their log in details (although I’m not that naïve to know that if they choose to have privacy as they get older, it won’t take them much to change their passwords or block a parent). I don’t have any definitive answers as to what we can do to make sure our kids cherish their real friends and put less emphasis on social media, but I’m monitoring the kids to try to keep them safe and to try to let them know that a person’s worth can’t be accounted for by the number of likes on a photo.

Do you have any advice on managing social media?

(Image courtesy of master isolated images, freedigitalphotos.net)

APP-PALLING WASTE OF TIME  

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My youngest children use the same Apple ID as me so I can keep track of the apps they want to download onto their devices. This gives me the total discretion to decide whether the game/app is suitable and stops them from having open slather to purchase or download apps as they please.

The flip side to having them using the same Apple ID, means that the apps get automatically downloaded onto my devices. I don’t mind this, as it actually allows me to use the app to see that the description of the app has been accurate and that it is appropriate for my kids. The downside of ‘checking out’ these apps, is that I find myself spending hours playing these addictive little games that my kids enjoy.

Last Christmas I took great delight in ‘Elfing’ myself and watching my over-sized head on some phenomonal hip-hop dancer’s body grooving to a funky christmas carol. Come on – admit it – you did it too! Or if you didn’t, you should as it really is worth the chuckle!

The latest craze for my kids is a game called ‘Crossy Road’ where you try to get a pixilated chicken to cross the road without getting hit by a car. Simple and boring I hear you say – but no! It’s addicitive because you are sure you can beat your prior record. First the chicken wants to cross a road, then there’s a trainline and eventually a stream. Just when your brain is telling you to grow up and get on with real life, you win a cow. Then it’s a whole new game! You now want to get the cow to cross the road. It’s embarrassing that I’m entertained by such a simple game!

I have come to the conclusion that these apps are appropriate for my kids, just not for me as I find myself wasting time on trivial games. I have however worked out the riddle ‘Why did the chicken cross the road?’ – the answer, so you can win a cow!

Please tell me I’m not alone – let me know if you too have been sucked into the vortex of time wasting games, in the interest of researching them for your kids!

(Picture courtesy of Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net)

MANAGING CHAOS

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I, like many of you out there, manage a few of my kids sporting teams. It’s funny how a room goes silent when there is the question put out as to who would like to nominate themselves for this role. I think in this world there are the doers and the whiners (have you ever noticed that the parents that whine the loudest about the way things are being done are the ones that don’t offer to do anything themselves?) The other thing that I’ve noticed is that once you put your hand up to help, you are then forever more stuck in that role. I naively thought the first time I offered to take on managing a team that it would be passed around to all the parents, but alas years on, I’m still in the same role.

I don’t mind the texting to co-ordinate everyone or dealing with the governing association for that sport – what I can’t stand is being in charge of subbing players on and off the field/court. No matter what I’ve done in the past, someone has complained that it’s not been fair to their child. I tried doing it alphabetically to make sure everyone had their turn but the mother of the little girl whose name was at the start of the list took offence to this method, so I changed to subbing the kids off in order of their jersey number, until one of the dads complained that it kept our two best players off at the same time. Add to that the grief from the child that just doesn’t want to come off the field. Some days I just feel like pulling my hair out!

So I was ecstatic this week when someone told me about a phone app that does all the hard work for you – all my wishes have come true! For all you parents who are coaches/managers do yourself a favour and download ‘FairCoach’ (I’m not paid to endorse this app – I am genuinely thrilled to have found it). It allows you to mark off which kids are present, set the format for the game (halves, quarters etc), set the time of the game and then it spits out which children are to come off at what exact time. It even allows you shuffle the players so it changes week by week – Hallelujah!

I used it for the first time last night at my son’s basketball and it was great – any time a kid moaned about it not being their turn, I could just say ‘the phone app says it is your turn’ and that shut them up. I love when technology makes your life easier in the most unexpected ways. Now if someone could just design an app that could drive the kids to their sport and wash their uniforms after, then life would be truly perfect!

 

 

(Photo courtesy of freedigitalphoto.net)