Should Your Kids Be Selfie Stars?

Last year, I spent this week with my daughter in Salt Lake City. What a wonderful time we had together shopping, hiking, and visiting Park City and Deer Valley–and just hanging out together. This is one of the stories I wrote while staying with her.

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Experiencing the beach.

My daughter and I walked into an elevator yesterday at Nordstrom’s with a mom pushing a Thule baby stroller, snapping pics of her infant and tapping away on her phone to post the pics. My daughter whispered to me, “Thank God they didn’t have iPhones when I was a kid!”

I told her I was thankful that their early childhood was before the era of smartphones, too.

Later, I asked her why she was glad we didn’t have iPhones. Her answer surprised me. “Because you would have been taking photos constantly and posting every moment of my life on FaceBook,” she said.

Psychologists warn about kids spending too much time in front of screens and not enough of their time outdoors in an article in the DailyMail.com called “Why children should not be selfie stars:”

In advice to parents, Dr. Godsi said: ‘Leave technology at home. When you go out as a family leave mobile devices switched off and have a rule that says no mobile phones during family meal times.’

The author added: ‘In my opinion selfies should not be encouraged.

‘I think there is a place for taking a few photos, as a way to help families remember or look back and to share memories but the constant pressure to post on social media means there’s a risk that they (children) don’t experience anything except through a lens.’

My daughter said that once I got my first iPhone and was learning how to use it, “You relentlessly posted ugly, fat pictures of me on FaceBook.”

I view those photos not as ugly, but on a scale of cute to adorable to gorgeous.

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Learning about the ocean in Junior Lifeguards.

I explained that I was so glad she and her brother weren’t posing for pictures constantly, weren’t worried about what other kids were doing at the moment, but went outside to play. That’s why I’m glad the iPhone wasn’t a thing in their early years.

When we had kids over, they weren’t sitting side by side texting each other. No, they were running around the backyard and house playing a reverse hide-and-seek game called sardines—for hours on end.

When we were at the beach, they were jumping in the waves, body surfing, building drip castles, digging holes and yes—occasionally fighting and throwing sand. As annoying and painful as throwing sand was–especially dealing with sand in the eyes–it sure beats constantly posing for pictures.

My daughter says there is room for both. When she goes to the beach with friends, they now get a few pics, then toss the phones in a beach bag and dive under the waves.

Here are a few frightening stats from the article in the UK Mail:

Dr. Godsi spoke out after a survey of 2,000 parents by outdoor education provider, Kingswood, found that the biggest source of quality time among families is spent watching TV together. Sixty-eight percent cited this as their main activity shared with children, followed by going to the cinema (35 per cent) and playing computer games (24 per cent).

The average age of the parents’ children was ten, while 445 were seven.

Asked to look back to when all their youngsters were seven, 85 percent of families said their sons or daughters had never gone camping.

Sixty-five percent said they had never played pooh sticks or climbed a tree (51 percent).

Forty-one per cent admitted their children had never been on a bike ride, paddled in the sea (43 percent) or played in a park (31 percent).

It’s very easy to get sedentary. It’s also easy not to talk to each other when we’re buried and focused on our screens. I’m lucky to spend this week with my daughter just hanging out and being with each other.

What are your thoughts about selfies, kids and family time? Do your kids spend enough time without their phones experiencing outdoors?

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On the lookout for dolphins and whales.

 

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Friends caught in a freak storm in Santa Barbara Harbor

 

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A lovely evening after a Sunday sail–earlier this year.

 

Our good friends, Rob and Deb, were on their normal Sunday afternoon sail in and around Santa Barbara Harbor when a freak “microburst” hit. Read more about the storm here.

Rob grew up sailing as a young lad in Australia and he and Debbie are skilled sailors. The first time we visited them in Santa Barbara, we found ourselves in a yachting race—and my husband and I had no clue what we were doing.

Here’s Debbie’s account of their harrowing ordeal:

She said the clouds were white and puffy above the mountains and she remembered pointing them out to their three guests. She watched as they turned from white, to gray to black. Then, she remembers Rob pointing out a line of rain coming at them across the water. One of her friends said, “Look there’s more coming behind it!”

The next thing she knew they got hit by 80 mph winds and their boat fell over flat. At the time, Debbie was standing on the bow pulpit—that railing that extends beyone the bow. She said she was hanging on for dear life but was able to push herself upright while the boat was on its side.

During this frantic time, one guest fell overboard and the mainsail flapped around in the air and water.

Debbie said there was zero visibility with pelting rain, hail and wind and they had lost control of their boat. When the microburst hit, they were turning left into the harbor by the pier. Debbie’s thoughts were for the group of kids who had been sailing in the harbor. There were dozens of kids as young as 10 in a youth sailing group capsized and hanging onto the centerboards of their boats. Debbie was afraid they would run over the kids as their boat spun this way and that. She said they did hit a paddle boarder, who dove off his board to avoid them.

Unsure how long the ordeal lasted, she said Rob was able to gain control of the boat eventually and sail it with the jib since they had no motor power. They avoided hitting large yachts, the rocky breakwater and various other hazards. Debbie said the harbor was filled with floating items like shoes, umbrellas, boat cushions, ladders, etc. She wanted to get towed, but Rob said no, that they were okay and other people needed to be pulled out of the water and rescued. After the storm passed, they were able to dock at Marina One. Their overboard companion called and said he had been rescued by people in a dinghy and for some reason his cell phone was still working.

Rob, Debbie and their guests worked for the next hours cleaning up the mess inside their boat with it taking on water and everything tossed around. Later that night, Rob returned to their boat with their old mainsail and with the help of friends returned their boat to their slip. Debbie said her friends all said they’d go sailing with them again.

 

 

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Debbie and my daughter on a sail in August.

 

 

I’m so thankful they survived and that even though dozens of people capsized or fell overboard, everyone was well and accounted for. We almost joined them for the weekend but decided instead to escape the desert heat up at Big Bear rather than trekking to Santa Barbara on a holiday weekend and fighting traffic and the fire through Los Angeles.

Am I grateful for that decision, especially after hearing Debbie’s harrowing account of their afternoon sail! I don’t know if I could have stayed calm like Rob and Debbie were able to. When we drove home from the mountains on Sunday, we got hit by a flash flood in the high desert–at about the same time as our friend’s storm in Santa Barbara. I was so freaked out driving into blackness, thunder, lightning, and rain pelting down in buckets. We lost visibility and I was afraid we’d be swept away. And that was on a highway in a car—not out in the ocean on a boat! I think watching all the devastation in Houston has me hypersensitive to disasters.

My nervousness has been memorialized by Rob during a sail years ago in a video with me repeating in a frightened voice to my kids, “Here comes a wave!” The sea doesn’t back up my fear—it’s glassy and calm.

Like I said, I’m thankful my friends and everyone in Santa Barbara are okay!

Have you been caught in a storm or natural disaster? Did you stay calm?

 

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Rob at the helm, giving my daughter instructions in August. Below are dolphins we followed a few years ago.

 

 

 

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Debbie on the bow pulpit, exactly where she was when the storm hit.