Would you be surprised to hear that kids today are more technologically savvy than ever before? Probably not. But what if we said that your child’s dependence on the Internet is actually affecting the life she’ll someday lead?
According to a survey from the Pew Research Center, today’s kids are learning to rely on the Internet as a second brain, changing the way they’ll approach problems later in life. They belong to an “always on” demographic, dubbed Generation AO, and are growing up in a hyper-connected culture of instant gratification and serious multitasking. Not only are 95% of tweens and teens online, the survey finds, but 76% of them are already using social networks. This rapidly evolving culture is leading experts to believe that tech-wired kids are the key to opportunities and careers we can’t yet fathom.
So how do you prepare your children for jobs they will invent themselves? Well, we’ll let you know when one of them figures that out. But while you’re waiting for your kids to write the future, we’ve stolen a peek at it and found the top 10 careers Generation AO will most likely covet. Of course, this doesn’t mean your child’s dream of becoming a princess or superhero can’t still come true—these just have better salaries.
In our June 2011 issue, we introduced you to Rick Marin, a sports-challenged father struggling between maintaining his hipster identity (as he calls it) and adapting to his 5-year-old son’s newfound love of “The Game.” Now, Marin has released the short story as a Kindle single called Keep Swinging. Fathers and sports lovers alike will resonate with Marin on his journey from believing the “Final Four” was a quartet of apocalyptic superheroes to discovering he had something in common with a Neanderthal Steelers fan. Click here for your own copy of Marin’s Kindle single—just in time for Father’s Day!
You know how a typical vacation glow tends to vanish as soon as you dump all the dirty laundry from the trip on your basement floor and begin sorting it? Or maybe that’s just me. But not this time! It’s been two weeks since my five-year-old son, Julian and I headed to Grand Bahama Island, courtesy of the kind folks at the Grand Lucayan, and we’re still feeling chill. Julian has declared that he won’t remove his orange resort wristband (“until I’m an old man and die”—yipes!) and I’m still smiling thinking of all the happy little moments over our three-day trip that I hope I never forget.
Julian’s beach experience so far had been limited to summers at the Jersey Shore, so with all due respect for Snooki, he was totally blown away when I pointed to that backdrop of blue beyond our resort and told him it was the ocean. “What? Are you kidding me?” he yelled. I’ve seen my share of islandy-beaches, but the view made me as giddy as my little guy. As soon as we unpacked in our spacious, marina-view room (one of 519 at this huge yet totally low-key haven) we quickly switched into a slow-as-honey pace that was such a departure from the daycare-work-home-bath-dinner-bed routine of our usual weekdays that the whole getaway now feels kind of like a dream. After dinner at Irie’s Restaurant, where I had a yummy mahi mahi stuffed with crabmeat and Julian split the lobster-topped pasta with one of two little boys on the trip who were nearly his age (two vacay playmates? jackpot!), we returned to our room to find giant chocolate chip cookies and milk had been delivered with the turndown service. Sweet! This place clearly knows kids (and carb-loving moms!).
The next morning, we experienced one of the highlights of our trip: the Unexso Dolphin Experience. We dangled our feet in a lagoon while two incredibly charming bottlenose dolphins performed like Broadway stars with fins for us. Julian laughed his head off every time they flipped or dove, yet when it was our turn to enter the water and pet the adorable Andros, my guy simply shook his head. Not happening. After the encore though, as we headed off the dock, he spotted a macaw, ran to it, and even dared allow his little arms to be used as a perch (see the pic?). Then he looked at me and said, “Do you want to live here? Because I’m serious, I want to move here.” Me too.
The next day, more water fun. We had a picnic on Gold Rock Beach, a little slice of paradise where Pirates of the Carribbean was filmed. Mother nature seems to have made this place for kids. You can walk into the aquamarine sea for the length of a football field and still the water only comes up to a tot’s waist. Exquisite. But the water at Grand Lucayan was pretty amazing too—four pools, including two infinity pools. Julian loved sitting on a chaise lounge in our favorite of the bunch (yes, a lounger in the pool—how fantastic is that?).
We didn’t want to leave. No, that is a massive understatement. There were big, fat tears and hysterics involved. Our last night, after an outrageous Asian pupu (queue the laughter from three little boys) platter feast at China Beach, we finished packing up. Which is when a crying Julian proceeded to try to hide the boogie board we couldn’t fit in his suitcase under the bed, “so I can find it when we come back with Daddy and Celeste!”
I kind of wanted to cry, too—it was just so special to have a few unhurried days together. Time to float in beautiful waters and meet sea critters, yes. But also time to answer my son’s 42-questions-an-hour (like, “Hey, why did those people put their dishes on the floor in this hallway? That’s not nice!” “That’s called room service, Julian” and “What is this cereal? It’s so good! Is it Cheerios with colors in them?” “They’re Froot Loops, my friend, and they’re only for special occasions!” “What’s occasions?”) without being distracted by the concerns/smartphones/chaos of our inland life. And I hope we return, because the Grand Lucayan’s kids’ club, anchored by an open-air classroom and boasting an area for babies called Grandma Lucaya’s, opens after renovations in a couple months and looks fantastic. But in the meantime, I need your help: How will I ever get this kid back to the Jersey Shore?!
Grand Lucayan, Rates in season start at $259; off-season start at $159.
To celebrate the launch of his new book, The Modern Parent’s Guide to Kids and Video Games, we asked tech expert and dad Scott Steinberg to share his top tips for making technology fun—and safe—for the whole family.
1. Be a Proactive User
“You can’t teach the rules of the game if you don’t comprehend them yourself,” says Scott. He recommends keeping tabs on new products, and taking them for a spin to see if they’re suitable for your kid.
2. Corral Devices in Common Rooms
Scott suggests keeping game consoles, computers, and other devices out of kids’ rooms. Keeping screens in sight allows parents to monitor kids’ play patterns and time investment, and see who they’re interacting with online.
3. Guard Your Privacy
Though social networks might feel intimate, they’re anything but private. Customize privacy settings to limit access to photos, status updates, or videos of yourself only to pre-approved viewers. Remind kids to keep mum about information such as names, addresses, birthdays, and telephone numbers.
4. Utilize Parental Controls
Take advantage of the built-in parental controls that come standard on many devices. Even clueless grown-ups can configure these user-friendly settings to limit and filter questionable content. Think about what works for your family, whether it’s blocking racy R-rated films or confining chats to pre-approved friends lists.
5. Create and Enforce House Rules
Set limits on screen time, and discuss when kids may use high-tech devices and which sites they can surf. “Kids should feel comfortable approaching you with questions about rules and content—open, honest discussion is paramount,” says Scott.
Spring cleaning may still be months away, but it doesn’t hurt to keep your kid’s playroom clean during the winter season when bacteria and germs are more likely to spread.
Melissa Homer, Chief Cleaning Officer at MaidPro and busy mom on-the-go, specializes in helping other busy moms like you maintain a clean home in no time at little cost. Below, she shares four strategies for organizing and cleaning a playroom.
Disinfect the Toys – A toy must be completely disinfected for it to be clean. Soak the toys for 5 minutes in a solution of 3/4 cup bleach mixed in a gallon of water. Rinse and let dry. For large toys, use a disinfecting multipurpose spray cleaner and wipe them dry with a clean rag. One of Melissa’s favorite mommy time savers is making a large batch of bleach water in the bathtub to disinfect a large number of toys at once.
Give Each Toy a Home - Keeping things clean with kids is already hard enough in a cluttered, disorganized room. To keep things under control, use tubs, baskets, and shelves to place and store toys in a neat and compartmentalized way.
Keep Toys in Rotation - If you have too many toys to keep in one place, try rotating toys regularly (every few weeks or months). Keep a majority of toys stored away (e.g. basement, garage, storage closet, etc.), but leave out an interesting and varied mix to keep your little one entertained.
Enlist the Help of Professional Cleaners - Cleaning tasks should be divided and shared between both parents. If there isn’t time, make room in your budget for a professional cleaner to take care of deep scrub cleaning once a month. This way, you can spend less time maintaining the house the rest of the time so you can spend more time with the family.
Recently, I spent two days with a special out-of-town guest, taking her sightseeing around New York City. We navigated Manhattan with ease, taking on diverse areas such as Gramercy Park, Flatiron District, Midtown East, Times Square, and the Upper East Side. My guest, part of the Flat Stanley Project, never made a fuss or complained — being made of markers and laminated paper.
For parents who are unfamiliar with The Flat Stanley Project, it was started in 1995 by Dale Hubert, a teacher in Ontario, Canada, and was inspired by the Flat Stanley children’s books series by Jeff Brown. The project involves children making paper cutouts of themselves (their personalized versions of Flat Stanley) and then mailing them to friends and family around the world. The goal is to encourage literacy as kids write about Stanley’s adventures through his visits, and to promote pen pal exchanges. Over 6,000 schools in 88 countries have participated in the project, and even famous folks such as President Obama and actor Clint Eastwood have been photographed with a Flat Stanley.
My friend’s young daughter sent me her Flat Stanley (from Georgia!) and my inner host and shutterbug went all-out visiting Big Apple landmarks (Empire State Building, Times Square, Rockefeller Center), historical sites (Theodore Roosevelt’s birthplace, Fifth Avenue Public Library), and some children’s paradises (Toys “R” Us, FAO Schwartz, American Girl Place). It was really fun soaking up familiar sights I wouldn’t normally visit as a New Yorker, and I’m ready for my next Flat Stanley visitor.
Parents, learn more about how to get your school involved in this global literacy project at FlatStanley.com, and make sure to download the (free) Flat Stanley app from iTunes.
Befriending a guard outside FAO Schwartz
Resting at the Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park
A Facebook group dedicated to the creation of a “Beautiful and Bald Barbie” is campaigning for Mattel to mass produce hair-less Barbie dolls as “a great coping mechanism for young girls dealing with hair loss themselves for a loved one,” whether from cancer or other autoimmune disorders. Scarves and hats would be ideal accessories for the Bald Barbie.
In 2011, CBS New York reported that Mattel made a unique bald Barbie doll for 4-year-old Genesis Reyes, who sufferend hair loss from chemotherapy. Another Facebook group campaigning for a “Bald and Brave G.I. Joe” action figure currently has over 2,000 “likes.”
As a parent, do you think having a bald Barbie will be beneficial for young girls who have a difficult time understanding and accepting hair loss? Take our poll below.
I’m one to collect abandoned aluminum cans, paper tower tubes, plastic bottles, milk jugs, and egg cartons (I could go on) for craft projects, but honestly, I’ve never seen anything like this collection of drink bottle tops!
These kids made a cool mosaic in the style of Kandinsky, like the painting above.