Snapchat for Dummies (I Mean, Parents)

Talking with pictures

Snapchat for Dummies (I Mean, Parents)

Are your kids using Snapchat? Here's a great primer from the CEO himself.
Between every generation there exists not so much a gap as a sinkhole. Inevitably, though some of us never thought it could happen to us, we are already looking at millennials and wondering what planet they came from.

Enter Snapchat's chief executive Evan Spiegel, to explain what makes these young people tick and explain for us old fogies (i.e. their parents) how his incredibly popular app actually works. 

That Spiegel, who is just 25 years-old himself, appears in the low-buget video looking like he just fell out of bed proves the extent of our disconnect. (See, old fogies still expect to see their CEOs wearing something other than T-shirts and hoodies...) 

And though it feels vaguely patronizing to see Spiegel with his flip notepad and simplistic diagrams, as parents we do need to understand how the whole ideology surrounding picture-taking has evolved since we first started accumulating and - gasp - uploading a hundred holiday photos at a time.

"When you see your children taking a zillion photographs of things that you would never take a picture of - it's because they are using photographs to talk," explained Spiegel. "That's why people are taking and sending so many pictures on Snapchat everyday."

Living in the moment, ephemerally, capturing an event in an almost comic-strip fashion as it happens as part of someone's "story"... That's Snapchat. 
And I admit, it still feels foreign to my prehistoric brain. But at least Spiegel's "spiel" goes some way to explain all those estimated 750+ million photos users take on Snapchat every single day. 

Birthday Party Madness: When Ponies Are a Given

it's high time to lower the bar

Birthday Party Madness: When Ponies Are a Given

Is it time to lower the bar on kids birthday parties?

When it comes to kids' birthday parties, mom Sophie May Dixon has the rest of us beat. She dropped an eye-popping sum for her five year-old daughter's dream birthday.

And just what does £2,000 (around $3,850) get you these days? A red carpet, a pony, a DJ, a face painter and a big bouncy castle, that's what.

Notwithstanding that the girl's name is Princess Bliss - and her three year-old sister is called Precious Belle - Dixon insisted during her appearance on the British breakfast TV that her daughters are "treated, not spoiled."

"They haven't asked for it. It's once a year that you give them something special," insisted Dixon, who spends the better part of a year planning parties for the girls.

She got the idea for a pony party after seeing a post on Facebook. So if it seems a tad outlandish, consider that Dixon isn't the only parent out there throwing increasingly lavish birthday parties. Proms are no better.

To each their own, of course, if you have that kind of money to drop. We all think our children are "precious" darlings who deserve the finest in life, even if we don't print it on their birth certificates. 

But is this kind of grandeur doing our kids (and our bank balances) a disservice?

This is when I proudly get to start a sentence with "In my day..." One of my most memorable birthday parties was held at the local Burger King, where this little queen revelled in a cardboard crown for an hour while munching fries. My, how times have changed!

Last year I went all out and booked a section of a trampoline park for my six year-old son's birthday. It was the first time I'd outsourced his party, in part feeling the pressure to do something a bit more grand than scatter a few toys around our family room. Yet now that I've hopped on the birthday treadmill, I worry that I've created a dangerous precedent. What big things will he expect for his seventh?

Is social media to blame for the rising insanity (not to mention competitive edge) to kids' parties and cakes, etc, or do we bring it on ourselves?

RELATED: Party Planning for Parents



Play SHOULD be Risky Business

the biggest threat to kids' health isn't broken bones

Play SHOULD be Risky Business

The biggest threat to our kids' health isn't getting hurt.
We all know kids are often bubble wrapped these days as compared to past generations. New research confirms the bigger danger to children's health isn't broken bones; it's obesity and chronic disease. 

A position statement in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that kids who engage in more “risky" play - such as "climbing and jumping from a height, unsupervised play where a child could get lost, cycling fast down a hill, playing with knives, or playing near water or cliffs" - will reap the benefits later.

Risky play improves self-esteem and self-regulation in kids who ironically are less likely to take dumb risks with sex and drugs as teens. The statement's author Mark Tremblay believes the greater risk to a child's health is "risk deficit disorder."

He claims that as parents we have a pretty skewed view of what constitutes an actual risk.

So concerned about your child's safety? “Well, never put your kid in a car – it’s the most common place for a child to die,” says Tremblay. 

In the Ottawa study, out of 10,000 hours of play only an average of 1.5 injuries were reported. In other words, broken bones can happen. But they rarely do - and they're rarely the serious, spinal/head variety.

Though the majority of Canadian parents of 10-12 year olds worry about "stranger danger," the real dangers lurk within the home: online.

“Parents have to have a balanced view of this," says Tremblay. "Their child at home is 500 times more likely to meet a stranger – the internet has many cyberbullies. Children won’t develop resilience without getting a little hurt and getting back up again.”
But Rome wasn't built overnight. Tremblay suggest parents start small: by leaving their children unsupervised for just 20 minutes. I know this to be true, yet it fights every instinct in my body. 
Not everyone wants to be Indiana Jones, after all. While some kids are naturally risk-averse, others are born risk-seekers. So everybody should be encouraged to explore and find their own limits. 
If we don't start somewhere, our kids are the ones who will suffer in the long run.