• Life

    Fan Pages For Their Kids

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    I’m noticing a weird trend on Facebook lately. At least, I think it’s weird. Maybe it’s just because my kids are older. It’s hard to be sure. But more and more over the last year or so, I’m seeing parents make fan pages for their kids.

    Weird, right?

    In 2020, maybe because of COVID, this seems to have taken off. If a kid has a favourite sport or hobby, something they spend a lot of time doing, then apparently there needs to be a fan page.

    This is done, clearly, because we all want to follow the primary hobby of every kid of every adult we know.

    Or maybe it’s so that there will be a specific record of the early days of a future world class tennis player, golfer, painter, pianist, or whatever.

    Probably, it’s both.

    And I don’t really get it.

    Yes, my kids are older, with the youngest approaching legal adulthood, but I don’t understand this parental quest for childhood micro-celebrity, often before the kids are even into double digits in age.

    I love my kids. They are amazing and incredible individuals. But you’ll notice I don’t post a whole lot about them and I never have. I don’t want to feed them into the machine that puts value on what people do by counting likes and reactions on social media posts. If one of them wants to be famous for something, I’ll do whatever I can to promote and help them. The same is true if they want to start a business or a charity or play a sport or have an artistic career.

    I want them to succeed. More importantly, I want them to find things that they love to do and to feel good and right about doing, regardless of social media thumbs up.

    Because, when it comes down to it, that kind of validation is mostly transient and irrelevant. How many likes you get on a post is essentially meaningless. Yes, they’re nice. Yes, sometimes they’re an indicator of whether or not your message, if you have one is reaching anyone. Sometimes they’re even a guide as to conversations you could be having. But they’re not really validation of anything by themselves.

    I like people to post what their kids are up to now and again. It’s nice to be able to see if they’re having a good childhood even in the midst of the global semi-apocalypse we’ve got going on. But I honestly don’t see the need for a parent-generated fan page for any one kid and their favourite activity unless it’s a private one for family and really close friends. Even then, is that really what’s needed? Post a picture now and then.

    But I’m getting a couple of invites per month. And sometimes those are repeat invites, which means the parent is just sending that invite to everyone on their Facebook friends list who hasn’t already liked the page. I’m not sure how that’s supposed to get me interested in what their kid is doing if I’m not already at least peripherally part of their life.

    You love your kids and are proud of them. I get it. I feel the same way about mine. We’re both right. But not necessarily for each other.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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  • Life,  Parenting,  Philosophy

    Life Lessons From 2014

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherWe should always be learning. I’ve learned lots this year as well as others. But some lessons stand out and sometimes because they were hard to learn or relearn. I have four picks for this year, each learned or relearned or reinforced in a different way.

    If someone is wrong on the Internet, it’s not that important.

    Rather than telling someone they’re wrong on FB (or Twitter, or wherever), it’s often just as satisfying to comment out loud to yourself without posting. Humans being humans, most people are just going to resent the correction anyway. Make an exception when they’re posing a danger to themselves or others.

    If you haven’t got anything nice to say, say something nice about someone else.

    There’s something about our modern society that entitles someone’s opinion to be as valid as carefully researched and proven facts. Combine this with the fact that many people think that just because they have an opinion that other people have to listen to it. Throw in a little anonymity on the internet to bleed belligerence through into the real world and you’ve got a veritable douchebag cocktail at work in western society. Try not to contribute to it. Find something you like about someone and say something about that instead.

    Do something to make the world a better place.

    Anything. Stand up for something that’s wrong. Be kind to strangers, animals, and small children. Pick up a little garbage. Write a protest letter. Be the person you wish everyone could be.

    Meet your kids where they are.

    They’re still pretty young when they stop automatically coming to where you are and joining in with your interests. Finding their own path is important, but you’ve got to learn to walk it with them, and that’s not always easy. Sometimes it’s bloody hard. But it’s also incredibly important.

    Be well, everyone.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

  • Life,  Parenting

    Understanding My Kids’ Relationship With YouTube

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    So lately I’ve been trying to watch some of the YouTube video channels that my oldest daughter is into. I watch them with her, because none of them are things I’d likely go to on my own, trying to understand what she sees in them. This is a bonding experience, I suppose, because from my perspective, the attraction to most of these is like a train wreck: you just can’t look away.

    Let’s be clear: not all of them. There are actually a small handful I enjoy, although I wouldn’t sit down and watch a whole bunch in a row.

     

    Fun Stuff on YouTube

    Movie Sins is probably my favorite. Produced by a guy who goes through popular movies and points out all of the problems and plot holes that are running through my head as I’m watching them. While I manage to keep the easy ones to an eye roll while I’m watching the film, he adds them up. And every movie gets a score at the end of the video. Higher numbers are bad.

    I also kind of like Game Theory. This is an entertaining little segment where the host takes some strange little, or not so little, item or incident from a popular or classic videogame and then blows up into a giant conspiracy theory, completely “supported” by “evidence” in the game it’s from and from other related games if necessary. This is fun, and shows immense creativity.

    Your Grammar Sucks is also worth a mention. The host, Jack, takes user submitted scrapings of comments from YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook of the most atrocious grammar, spelling, and things that just don’t make sense, and reads them as seriously as possible. He has a couple of other channels in his feed, too.

    And I get some of the College Humor material. Some of it. There are videos that are absolutely hilarious. Some of the work, well, a lot of it, is clearly not targeted at me and most of that I don’t find particularly funny. Some isn’t even mildly entertaining.

     

    Sturgeon’s Law

    Now, before you get the idea that I’m actually liking everything YouTube has to offer, or at least the chunk of it my kids are watching, let me remind you of the generalization of Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of everything is crap.

    In that light, I’m trying to understand the attraction to streaming video of someone playing a videogame with running commentary that never stops. I mean, I get the idea of an exciting play through. Fun and weird stuff happens that can make it really entertaining. Watching a two player or team game is the geek equivalent of watching football or hockey.

    I don’t understand watching something where the commentary provided by player is a never ending stream of meaningless drivel and noise. I mean, we all went to school with the guy or girl never shut up and thought everything that fell out of their mouth was hilarious. We didn’t pay an awful lot of attention to them back then, so why are we giving them hundreds of thousands of views YouTube now? (This is the same reason I don’t like Deadpool, by the way. Deadpool is that guy only with superpowers. No thanks.) There are some fun and entertaining play throughs happening, but remember Sturgeon’s Law.

    Then there’s amateur standup or sit down comedy hour.

    Hours.

    Days.

    Eternities.

    A lot of YouTube are somebody sitting in their bedroom, living room, basement, etc, talking about random stuff for no apparent reason and we’re supposed to hang on every word like it’s life changing. Or at least we’re supposed to find them incredibly entertaining. Unsurprisingly, Sturgeon’s Law applies again.

    The question becomes how work with the Law, how to find the good stuff among the random chatter. Clearly, we can’t trust popularity. If a girl telling the story about how she knows everyone and is friends with everyone who works at the local 7-11 because she’s there every single day gets a hundred thousand hits, there’s clearly something wrong with us as a species.

    I have developed three rules that I think apply beyond YouTube.

     

    Rule Number One

    If your kids are watching it, watching it with them.

    Yes, you can make fun of it here and there, but only after you’ve taken the time to see what they’re seeing, ask questions, and make efforts to get them to explain to you what it is they find so entertaining or attractive about the particular channel or the selection of shows it has. YouTube is a lot like TV or movies this way.

     

    Rule Number Two

    Give something three chances. When you’re checking out something new, don’t assume the first thing you see is the creator’s best work. Everyone has an off day sometimes, but if they have, by your perception, three off days in a row, then either they’re going through some major issues, or they only have an on day every so often. If it’s the former, watching their unappealing video content is probably not going to help them get through, though putting extra views on the good stuff might. If it’s the latter, you’re just encouraging them and it isn’t going to help either of you. Either way, I’d suggest finding something else to watch. If you’re far enough along the path, ask the child you’re watching with to switch to a channel in their list to one you know have a chance of liking. But do it casually. Hey, is there a new Movie Sins this week?

     

    Rule Number Three

    Don’t be afraid to try something new, especially something completely new. You never know what you might like, and at least it will give you some insights into your kids’ minds, if you’re following rule number one.

    Bonding with your kids is never an easy thing. You can only force them to like what you like for so long. And it’s probably better if you don’t force it in the first place. Let them see you like something to decide to join you. That will stop at some point, a different age for every child of my three. After that, if you want to spend time with them, you’re going to have to find things that they like. You need to go where they are, not drag them to you. That way lies and madness and sulking.

     

    There is no rule four, five, or six. At this point, I’m working with just the three. And believe me, it’s hard sometimes.

    Be well, everyone.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

  • Gaming,  Parenting

    Video Game Companies Need to Get Smarter If They Want My Money

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherBacking that up a bit, I appear to be raising several gamer kids, although of distinctly different types.

    At some point, we’ve all been Halo fans, and fans of first person shooters in general. Those days are mostly over, I think. We’ve decided we’re not going to bother with the XBox One at this point for a variety of reasons, but the 360 still has a solid place in our entertainment unit. So does the PS3. The Wii (although that’s mostly for Gamecube games, and the Gamecube itself has migrated to my son’s room with an older 360). And the recently acquired Nintendo 64. There are a variety of handheld devices in the house, too. DS and 3DS mostly, but there’s also a game boy and a PSP hanging around, as well as the game potential on several iPods. I won’t rule out a new console in the future, either.

    Personally, I’m fairly eclectic in my gaming (surprise!), though that usually means I don’t get really good at any one game. But it’s more about the fun, or with bigger games, the story telling. I’m not competitive, so I don’t need to be better than anyone else at something. I just need to be good enough to watch the story unfold in a reasonable time frame.

    But, like I said, the offspring are all different.

    Oldest appears to have migrated away from first person shooters of his “youth” to online battle arenas as his primary gaming entertainment. Not exclusively. He has a couple of handheld devices, so he’s never without games, though seems to prefer some of the classic Nintendo varieties. He’s ranked somewhere in the Platinum levels on League of Legends at this point, but plays several others, too. These are mostly too complicated for me to have time for the learning curve at this stage of life, but I like Smite as it gives you the ability to automate certain things to streamline play. We keep saying we should check out War Thunder, but haven’t managed to yet.

    Youngest Daughter is a Minecraft fanatic. I admit to having been bitten by this bug (as evidenced by a previous post) and intend to allow myself an account of my own for my fast approaching birthday. She likes the Pokémon type games, too, and has a fairly extensive and eclectic collection of DS games. But Minecraft is her current love and gets the vast majority of her gaming time at the moment. Often hours per day. As many as three people in our house have played Minecraft together at the same time.

    Oldest Daughter, on the other hand, is the RPG fan. She does some action-adventure games, too (like having just finished off the entire Assassin’s Creed series), but RPGs tend to hold her interest longer. For solo play, she keeps coming back to Skyrim lately, but we’ve played a couple of multiplayer games together in the last little while: War in the North, and Dungeon Siege III. Two very different games in the same general genre, but both a lot of fun. I think we probably enjoyed War in the North more, as we played through it at every difficulty level building our characters up to game maximum, but our interest did eventually die out.

    And that’s the problem right now. We haven’t found another one we can play together. Most of the really good games on the shelf get passed by as single player games. We want something that allows for the two of us to play together, as in at the same time. A lot of game developers seem slow to wake up to the idea that gaming can be social, that it almost has to be and not just in an online, can’t see the other players’ faces, smack talk kind of way. (Which I personally find to be a complete turn off.)

    Gaming can be family time.

    For me, that’s always what it’s about. Can I play with one or more of my kids? If the answer is no, it’s probably going to stay on the shelf at the store. Now, I recognize that I’m not part of the target market of young men with more money than sense that the video game industry seem to survive on by fleecing on a regular basis. But the thing is, I should be. I have the potential to spend more money on entertaining my family.

    And there are five of us.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

  • Days of Geek,  Podcast

    DoG Ep 04: Gaming With Your Kids

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherNote that the contact info given in the episode itself is no longer any good. If you want to find me, try Facebook, @writingdad on Twitter, or email: lance@lanceschonberg.com.

    00:00 Episode ID

    Days of Geek, Episode 4: Gaming with your kids.

     

    00:05 Music

    “Split In Synapse”, courtesy of Kevin McCleod at incompetch.com.

     

    00:13 Intro

    I quote something I saw posted on Facebook. “How do you bond with your 9yo daughter?” and answer it by saying to play a game with her.

     

    00:42 Main

    I talk very briefly about games in our house, mention Will Wheaton (see Episode 1 at daysofgeek.com/1) and Table Top again, but expand from there before launching into our favourites.

     

    03:08 The games.

    Dividing things up a little, I talk about the three categories of games we really play: table top games, RPGs, and video games.

    Table Top

     

    Miniatures and RPGs:

    Video Games (mostly just list current favourites)

     

    13:33 Ye Olde Bin O’ Dice

    A strange and mystical thing I experienced at Fan Expo this year.

     

    15:50 Media Consumption

    The part of the show where I very briefly talk about the geeky media I’ve consumed since recording the last episode. This is hopelessly out of date, but was good when I recorded this segment.

    Television

    Star Trek TOS: “The Corbomite Maneuver”

    The Community Marathon

     

    Books:

    Finished: Synthesis and started the first Typhon Pact book (which I’ve actually now finished).

     

    And then I talk a little about how my reading methods have changed in the last couple of years.

     

    17:46 Star Trek TOS Re-Watch

    Episode: “The Corbomite Maneuver”

    I play the original TV teaser and offer a brief synopsis (which seem to be getting less brief every episode), plus a few thoughts and notes.

    Scoring:

    Not much to score, but it’s a tension filled episode with lots of nervous people sweating.

    I’m a doctor, not a _____: Moon Shuttle Conductor

    Best Line:

    McCoy, to himself: “If I jumped every time a light came on around here, I’d end up talking to myself.”

    Overlooked Character/Actor:

    Balok the kid, played by Clint Howard.

    Recommendation:

    Not a favourite, but mostly a fun episode. It’s fast, tense, has some good characterization, and stands well on its own.

     

    25:36 Outro

    In which I again offer contact info, plus a quick reminder of the Tanya Gough contest:

    Closing music—George Street Shuffle, courtesy of Kevin McCleod at incompetch.com

    Creative Commons licensing info (Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivatives 3.0 Un-ported License).

     

    27:15 Blooper, sort of.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

  • Life,  Parenting

    The Sadness of September

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherPosting this, it’s Sunday night before the second week of the school year, and it’s still a bit of a melancholy time for me.

    I don’t really like the whole BTS thing. Yes, kids need an education, but in a time when fewer and fewer of us have so called “standard” work hours, summer is better for seeing your kids.

    I’m not talking about taking vacations, but all the time. During July and August, if I have the day off, so do they. If I’m working nights, they’re probably around when I get up. I get a lot more time with them, even the teenager.

    When they go back to school. That changes.

    Staples/Business Depot has been running an annual ad campaign for something close to two decades now based around the idea that Back To School is the most wonderful time of the year for parents, even using the chorus from that old Christmas song. And I have to wonder about the parents they’re targeting. And they’re absolutely targeting parents, because the parents in these commercials are all overjoyed that the kids are going back to school and the kids always look like they’ve just swallowed a live beetle and can still feel it moving around. See, obviously it’s a great time of the year. Look how happy the adults are at making their kids miserable by sending them somewhere they don’t like being.

    I have this to say: if, as a parent, the best time of the year for you is when you get rid of your kids five days out of seven, why did you have kids? If you really don’t want them around, why did you bring them into the world?

    Yes, they need an education, though I’m increasingly unsure that what the public school system is providing for them qualifies anymore, but the new school year is not a celebration. Mark it, prepare for it, understand it. Don’t celebrate it unless your kids want to. If they don’t, find something else to celebrate with them.

    Bite me, Staples. Bite me.

    Everyone else, be well.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather