Who knew youth sports was a $15 billion industry?

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My daughter racing, a few years ago.

Who knew that the youth sports industry in the United States has turned into a $15 billion a year industry? According to Time Magazine’s Sean Gregory, “Across the nation, kids of all skill levels, in virtually every team sport, are getting swept up by a youth-sports economy that increasingly resembles the pros at increasingly early ages.”

As a swim mom, I understand how easy it is to get swept up in kids sports. “Before Swimming” is how we refer to the years before club swimming took over our lives. “BS” we used to take ski vacations in Snowmass, CO and ski weekends in Big Bear. I took my son and daughter to youth tennis where they laughed and ran around with their friends. My son tried Cub Scouts and my daughter went to ballet.

They did a number of activities back in those days. Then they both fell in love with the pool. After taking lessons for water safety since they were six months old, my son around age seven was skilled enough to join the Piranha Swim Team. We were so proud! Then my daughter soon followed and every evening we found ourselves with other parents around the pool deck.

During my daughter’s high school years, I’d add up the costs of swimming just to see….I won’t give you a figure—but with dues of $160 per month, private lessons, and hotel stays at travel meets, and meals out, it added up. Then we came up with the brilliant plan of buying an RV to avoid the hotel costs and restaurants. Thing is….we never used it for a meet. It never seemed to be convenient.

From the Time article called “How Kids’ Sports Became a $15 Billion Industry:”

“The cost for parents is steep. At the high end, families can spend more than 10% of their income on registration fees, travel, camps and equipment. Joe Erace, who owns a salon and spas in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, says Joey’s budding baseball career has cost north of $30,000. A volleyball dad from upstate New York spent $20,000 one year on his daughter’s club team, including plenty on gas: up to four nights a week she commuted 2½ hours round-trip for practice, not getting home until 11:30 p.m. That pales beside one Springfield, Mo., mom, who this summer regularly made a seven-hour round-trip journey to ferry her 10- and 11-year-old sons to travel basketball practice. Others hand their children over entirely. A family from Ottawa sent their 13-year-old to New Jersey for a year, to increase his ice time on the travel hockey circuit. A sponsor paid the teen’s $25,000 private-school tuition. This summer, 10 boys from across the U.S. stayed with host families in order to play for a St. Louis–based travel baseball club.”

I enjoyed reading the Time magazine article and I agree with most of the parents who are interviewed. If your child is passionate about their sport, it’s natural to do everything you can to help them out. My life soon got absorbed by the team. I was writing the newsletter, press releases, fliers to hand out at schools. Soon, I was serving on the board, planning banquets, fundraisers, organizing goodie bags and buying year-round gifts. I remember breaking down in tears when I had to chase one parent down to do a minimum of a few hours volunteering at a meet—and he refused. He refused loudly and rudely. But then, I also remember early on when our family was asked to help at a meet with set-up and tear-down and we told the president of the team, “Sorry, but we have a life.” I guess we did, but that was “Before Swimming.”

I don’t regret a moment of my swim parenting days, though. I’d do it all over again.

Are you involved in the $15 billion youth sports phenomenon? What sports do your kids participate in and how involved are you as a sports parent?

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Third place relay at Junior Olympics, 9-10 age group.

 

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One Tip to Raise Your Kids to Become Independent Adults

 

18 years ago.

My daughter at a few months old.

I dream that my kids grow up to be successful in their chosen careers. I want them to have long-lasting relationships with the special person they love. I want them to have families and homes and lives they enjoy and are proud to lead. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

It’s up to us to teach our kids the skills they need to take on this enormous task called life. We want our kids to grow up ready to take on life’s challenges. I read an article today with a great tip—teach your kids to problem solve.

In “Here Are The Keys To Raising Problem-Solving Children” Michelle Kinder wrote:

“It’s hard being a kid. It’s harder still being a parent and watching your kids navigate waters that seem a thousand times more complex than when we were growing up. Most of us spend a fair amount of time thinking about how to inoculate our children from some of the shocking difficulties that so many kids seem to face before their 18th birthday.

“Our daughters are 15 and 10 and we have one strategy that continues to go the distance. It’s a Jedi mind trick that requires consistency but no herculean effort. It all hinges on a simple sentence: We are problem solvers.

“We started saying it when my daughters were pre-verbal and they have heard it so many times that it cues the requisite eye-roll a fair amount of the time. We are problem solvers.

“That’s it. Anytime we have any sort of challenge, we say, ‘We are problem solvers.’

“My daughter can’t find her shoes and we’re running late for her game ― ‘I don’t know where your shoes are. But I know we are problem solvers. And we’ve solved way bigger problems ― where should we start?’ “

How are you helping your kids become independent and resourceful?

 

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My daughter today.

 

Nostalgia for the iPod nano—and the kids

 

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A view from our seven-mile hike.

 

I’m feeling nostalgic today. Maybe it’s because I cleaned out my son’s desk drawer or maybe it’s because he spent a few days with us this past week. We enjoyed talking about years gone by, memories of his childhood and listening to music together. We even took a seven-mile hike and camped overnight in the nearby mountains.

Back to today, I decided to clean out his desk and I found his high school IDs, ACT and SAT reports and the most important electronic device in his life—an iPod nano, circa 2005. He would have been in middle school at the time. His nano opened his world to music and he was the envy of many of his school friends and swim mates for a few months—until everyone had one. I remember years with his nano with him at all times.

I searched through other drawers to find a charger that had a really, really wide base. I don’t remember the chargers being that wide, do you?

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My son’s 1st generation iPod. It was engraved on the back with his name and “I think therefore iPod.”

 

I found one in my daughter’s desk—next to one of her formerly prized possessions, a Pantech slide phone. How tricky was that? How on earth did she text on it? I never got the hang of it. She loved the phone because it came with a big sliding screen—and a camera.

I charged up the nano and listened to a few of my son’s songs. Then I tried to charge the old phone of my daughter’s. I wanted to take a peek at the photos she took on her first phone with a camera. I texted my son that I had found his iPod nano and I was going to mail it to him. He surprised me with a “please don’t.” I guess I’m the one feeling nostalgic, he’s over it.

I found an article about the history of the iPod. Here’s the section about the 1st generation iPod nano by Jacob Kastrenakes in “The iPod nano had a weird, amazing history.”

Like the iPod Classic three years before it, the iPod nano’s death today was a long time coming. But years ago, before the product stalled out, lost its identity, and was made wholly unnecessary by the iPhone, it featured some of Apple’s finest design and arguably represented the iPod at its peak — tiny, fun, and focused.

1ST GENERATION, 2005
My favorite iPod nano iteration has always been the very first one (seen above). It came in black and white with a silver back, like a shrunken-down version of the classic iPod, and it felt immediately retro. It wasn’t throwing back to anything — just the iPod released a year earlier. But it was as though the nano had leapt so far ahead as to make the traditional iPod feel like a thing of the past, like the nano was a modern riff on technology we used to use and love.

What were your favorite devices 10 to 15 years ago? Did you have an iPod too?

 

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Hiking.

 

Should we help with our children’s homework?

 

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Those were the days! My kids had piano practice in addition to homework.

The school year has begun and for many parents, that means evenings spent with the onerous task of getting their kids to do their homework. Plus, parents are transporting their kids to sports, dance, music or other whatever activities their kids may be enrolled in. With busy, hectic schedules, we may want to help out with homework to make life easier.

 

I have only one memory of my parents helping me with my homework—it was a map for a geography class. Other than that, I was on my own. My mom had a rule that we had to get our work done before we played—so I was pretty good at getting things done so I’d have free time.

These days, many schools want parents to get involved and have a “parental portal” so they exactly what is expected for homework. My kids’ elementary school had a “homework hotline” and every afternoon we’d listen to it together. Is all this helping and communicating with mom and dad helpful or hurting our kids?

One parent was feeling “between a rock and hard place” with the instructions from their children’s school. In a parenting advice column in the Fort Wayne, IN News Sentinel a parent asked:

“…In addition, the “Parent Portal,” as it’s called, also lets us know what we are expected to help with at home. In effect, we are being made responsible for what, in our estimation, is a teacher’s responsibility. We are expected to know the material, monitor homework, and see to it that every assignment is not only done, but done properly.”

Here’s part of the answer written by a family psychologist John Rosemond in his parenting column called “Parent portal source of angst for parents:”

“…A very good friend of mine with three school-age children says, ‘These parent portals bring a whole new level of crazy to parental over-involvement.’ From the get-go, my friend let her children know that they were wholly responsible for their homework assignments and that their job was to make sure she and their father never had to get involved.

“These parent homework portals take advantage of ubiquitous parent anxiety — borne largely by mothers who seem to think that their children’s grades reflect the quality of their parenting — regarding school achievement and successfully turn many parents/moms into micromanaging enablers. In so doing, teachers transfer a significant amount of responsibility for academic instruction to the home.

“It is a fact without exceptions that enabling weakens. In this case, it weakens a child’s sense of personal responsibility and is, therefore, self-fulfilling. The more the parent enables, the more enabling the child in question seems to need. “I can’t!” becomes a frequent complaint.”

You may question why the schools are doing this? Why are they making crazy parents lives even crazier? One reason according to Rosemond is the standardized testing. Schools want to see good test scores and getting parents involved ensures better results.

My question is this, why do schools care more about test scores than the development of our children?

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Swim practice six days a week and meets kept them busy!

Do you know what apps are on your teen’s phone?

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You can’t use social media underwater–yet.

Most parents want to know what our kids are doing on social media. We’ve been aware of the dangers out there—from sexual predators to cyberbullying. Our kids who spend too much time on their phones are more prone to anxiety and depression. Suicide has doubled for girls from 2007 to 2015 reaching a 40-year high, according to new analysis from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

A decade ago our kids were on MySpace. Then they moved to Facebook. They’re on Instagram and Snapchat now, but are we? The problem I see with social media is that as soon as we figure out how to use a platform, our kids have jumped onto a new one.

In the article called “Got teens? Four popular apps you need to know about” by Amy Morganroth, she details four apps I’ve never heard of. Have you?

“If you’ve got tweens or teens who are on phones or iPads or similar devices, you need to stay vigilant about the latest “hot” apps.

“Many are targeted at kids under the age of 18 and are wildly popular because they are free and easy to use.

“But most also have pretty frightening features that could put your kids at risk if they connect with the wrong person.

“On the flip side, we also highlight one app that’s designed to help parents make sure their child responds to their text messages.”

The apps she mentions are Yellow, musical.ly and Sarahah that can be platforms for cyberbullying or meeting up with strangers. Yellow is called “Tinder” for kids. It’s a meet-up app and there are no controls on it. The app musical.ly allows users to create music videos with their friends. That may sound harmless but one dad reported that his seven-year-old daughter was asked to post topless photos of herself. Sahara is a messaging app and the problem is it’s all anonymous, hence the cyberbullying. The app ‘Reply ASAP’ allows parents to remotely lock their kids’ phones if they don’t respond to their text within three minutes. I’d like that one. I hate it when my kids don’t respond to my texts.

I haven’t found the answer to the dangers of social media for our kids mental and physical health. My only suggestion is to get your kids into an environment where they have to put their phones down. Like in the swimming pool, a hike in the mountains–or a day at the beach.

Are you fluent in knowing what apps are on your kid’s phones? How do you monitor their social media?

 

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Another place there’s no social media because our cell phones have zero bars.

 

How many parents know about “roasting” a cyberbullying trend?

 

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The pool is a good place to get away from cellphones.

 

My daughter told me they had a meeting at her college about their social media use. I’m thrilled to hear that they are on top of it and take it seriously. The students were told that someone is monitoring their social media accounts. The student-athletes were given specific examples of what had been seen and what the consequences were including loss of scholarships or being kicked off the team. Every day I hear about new problems with social media like depression and anxiety as a result of too much screen time–and today I heard about “roasting” a trend in cyberbullying.

On ABC’s Good Morning America, there was a feature called “What parents should know about roasting, a new cyberbullying trend”

Experts are warning parents to be aware of a recent rise in the social media trend of “roasting,” which many critics consider a harmful form of cyberbullying.

The trend involves people asking to be insulted by posting photos or videos of themselves on platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Reddit, usually with the hashtag #roastme. Then friends or strangers online will take turns insulting the person who posted the original video or photo. Sometimes the insults are lighthearted or humorous, but the comments can also very quickly turn alarmingly mean.

ABC News’ T.J. Holmes sat down with middle school students — who asked not to be identified by their full names — to understand more about the online trend that has left some parents baffled.

“Adults don’t really say it … it’s like a kid thing,” one teenager told ABC News of “roasting.”

Another teen explained to Holmes that roasting is about a “50-50” split of good-natured fun and being mean to another person.

The middle schoolers told Holmes that while they do not participate in the trend themselves, they have seen it affect the lives of those around them, saying that some other children from their school were compared to animals online when they were roasted.

“Some people took it as a joke, and then others were actually crying about it,” one student told Holmes.

Cyberbullying is something parents of tweens and teens need to be aware of. On the ABC report, an expert said parents need to have their children’s passwords and see what is going on. We need to know if our kids are being bullied–and also if they are the bully. In another article, it says that half of teens and young adults between 12 and 20 years old have been bullied. That means one out of every two kids experiences bullying. We need to let them know that it’s not acceptable and this is a place where I believe a parent needs to get involved and interfere.

CYBERBULLYING HAPPENS MORE OFTEN ON INSTAGRAM, A NEW SURVEY SUGGESTS
By Hillary Grigonis — Updated July 22, 2017

A new study suggests that half of teens and young adults between ages 12 and 20 have been bullied and 17 percent experience bullying online. The cyberbullying statistics come from Ditch the Label, one of the largest anti-bullying organizations in the world, and a study of more than 10,000 youths in the U.K.

According to the survey, more youths experienced cyberbullying on Instagram than any other platform at 42 percent, with Facebook following close behind at 37 percent. Snapchat ranked third at 31 percent. While the survey participants use YouTube more than any other platform, the video-focused social media was only responsible for 10 percent of the reported cyber bullying.

Seventy-one percent of the survey participants said that social media platforms do not do enough to prevent cyberbullying.

The survey also considered the other side of the story, asking the same age group how often they were the bullies, instead of being on the receiving end. Nearly 70 percent of those surveyed said they were abusive online toward another user, compared to just 12 percent that admitted to bullying in general. Despite the prevalence of youth initiating the bullying, more than 60 percent disagreed with the idea that “saying something nasty” is less hurtful online than in person.

“Cyberbullying continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing young people online,” Ditch the Label CEO Liam Hackett wrote about the cyberbullying statistics. “This research uncovers the true extent and impact of online abuse, finding that the majority of young people have at some point done something that could be considered as abusive online behavior.”

Has your child been the victim of cyberbullying? How did you handle it?

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Would you sign the no-cellphone pledge? Are smartphones ruining a generation?

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Before cell phones were so prevalent, friends got together to hang out.

Today I found several sources talking about a pledge that thousands of parents are signing–the “Wait Until 8th” pledge to hold off giving kids cellphones until they are 13 or 14. Apparently, it’s hard for parents to say no to their kids and they don’t want to be the only family in the neighborhood to ban smartphones. By banding together and signing a pledge, they aren’t alone and they are getting more parents to support this idea.

I heard about the pledge here at a CBS station online:

SUMMIT, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Making your child wait to get a smartphone could feel impossible, but it might be a huge relief, and many parents are doing it.

As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, thousands have signed the ‘wait until 8th pledge’ — agreeing not to give their child a smartphone until 8th grade.

The Chicago Tribune covered it as well in “What age is too young for a smartphone? ‘Wait Until 8th’ pledge asks parents to delay tech for kids” by Kate Thayer:

Oak Park mom Keri Lucas doesn’t like how her smartphone seems to take hold of her young daughter’s mind when she lets her browse through digital snapshots.

“I do notice it impacts her behavior in a negative way,” said Lucas, describing how it’s hard to pull her 7-year-old daughter away from the cellphone.

It got Lucas to thinking about when she’ll give her daughter her own smartphone — a device many adults didn’t have a decade ago but now seems ubiquitous, even among children. “This is new territory,” Lucas said. “As parents, we’re navigating something our parents didn’t navigate. Trying to figure it out as we go is hard.”

As kids head back to school, many parents are wrestling with a relatively new rite of passage: when to give their kids a smartphone. While the average child gets his or her first smartphone at 10, according to research firm Influence Central, some parents in Chicago and across the country are bucking the trend by promising to wait until their children are in eighth grade — when they’re typically 13 or 14.

 

You may ask what the point is in not giving your child a cellphone? They are a great convenience, they give you the ability to check up on your child at any time and know where they are. But in a lengthy article from The Atlantic Magazine called “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” author Jean M. Twenge cites decades of her own research that shows cellphones are negatively impacting our kids. Twenge is a professor of psychology at San Diego State University and the author of Generation Me and iGen. I’ve posted a few paragraphs of the article below:

More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.

I’ve been researching generational differences for 25 years, starting when I was a 22-year-old doctoral student in psychology. Typically, the characteristics that come to define a generation appear gradually, and along a continuum. Beliefs and behaviors that were already rising simply continue to do so. Millennials, for instance, are a highly individualistic generation, but individualism had been increasing since the Baby Boomers turned on, tuned in, and dropped out. I had grown accustomed to line graphs of trends that looked like modest hills and valleys. Then I began studying Athena’s generation.

Around 2012, I noticed abrupt shifts in teen behaviors and emotional states. The gentle slopes of the line graphs became steep mountains and sheer cliffs, and many of the distinctive characteristics of the Millennial generation began to disappear. In all my analyses of generational data—some reaching back to the 1930s—I had never seen anything like it.

The allure of independence, so powerful to previous generations, holds less sway over today’s teens.

At first I presumed these might be blips, but the trends persisted, across several years and a series of national surveys. The changes weren’t just in degree, but in kind. The biggest difference between the Millennials and their predecessors was in how they viewed the world; teens today differ from the Millennials not just in their views but in how they spend their time. The experiences they have every day are radically different from those of the generation that came of age just a few years before them.

I call them iGen. Born between 1995 and 2012, members of this generation are growing up with smartphones, have an Instagram account before they start high school, and do not remember a time before the internet. The Millennials grew up with the web as well, but it wasn’t ever-present in their lives, at hand at all times, day and night. iGen’s oldest members were early adolescents when the iPhone was introduced, in 2007, and high-school students when the iPad entered the scene, in 2010. A 2017 survey of more than 5,000 American teens found that three out of four owned an iPhone.

The advent of the smartphone and its cousin the tablet was followed quickly by hand-wringing about the deleterious effects of “screen time.” But the impact of these devices has not been fully appreciated, and goes far beyond the usual concerns about curtailed attention spans. The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health.

There’s not a single exception. All screen activities are linked to less happiness, and all nonscreen activities are linked to more happiness. Eighth-graders who spend 10 or more hours a week on social media are 56 percent more likely to say they’re unhappy than those who devote less time to social media. Admittedly, 10 hours a week is a lot. But those who spend six to nine hours a week on social media are still 47 percent more likely to say they are unhappy than those who use social media even less. The opposite is true of in-person interactions. Those who spend an above-average amount of time with their friends in person are 20 percent less likely to say they’re unhappy than those who hang out for a below-average amount of time.

The more time teens spend looking at screens, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression.

If you were going to give advice for a happy adolescence based on this survey, it would be straightforward: Put down the phone, turn off the laptop, and do something—anything—that does not involve a screen.

I find it interesting that Prof. Twenge cites the years 1995-2012 as the iGen—because my youngest falls in that group and is on her phone all the time. My oldest is a couple years older, and although he’s always been into technology, my daughter makes fun of him for “being too old” for social media. He’s more comfortable on FaceBook like us old folks and doesn’t use SnapChat and rarely Instagram. It’s fascinating there’s such a big difference in their connection to their phones. In high school, he was spending time hanging out with his friends as often as he could–just like we did back in the day. My daughter spends time communicating with her friends over her phone. She does get together with them, but her downtime is spent tapping away on her iphone.

 

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Friends climbing rocks, jumping through waves–no cell phones around.

What do you think about the 8th grade pledge? Does the research about increased depression and anxiety affecting the iGen kids who grew up with cellphones alarm you? What type of rules do you have with your kids about cellphones?