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The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health released results from its annual survey of drug and alcohol habits among Ontario teens this week. (Link: CAMH)
It’s largely a good-news study of self-reported data: Use of alcohol, as well as use of cigarettes, has reached an all-time low.
Teens use cough syrup as a recreational drug
However, this stood out to me:
The only drug use measure that shows a significant increase in recent years is over-the- counter cough/cold medication used to “get high.” The percentage reporting the use of OTC cough/cold medication to “get high” in the past year significantly increased between 2009 and 2013, from 7.2% to 9.7%.
Another thing to bear in mind. Drunk driving rates are going down, but:
The percentage of drivers in grades 10–12 reporting driving after cannabis use is higher than the percentage reporting driving after drinking. One-in-ten (10%) drivers report driving a vehicle within one hour of using cannabis at least once during the past year (an estimated 31,500 adolescent drivers in Ontario).
My own sons are pretty young for detailed discussion around drugs, but I am so glad to know what we should be talking about. Did you know that teens are using cough syrup to get high? Have you talked to your kids about it?
Here’s an article from our archives about how to talk to your teen about drug use.
London designer Alice Temperley, whose designs the Duchess of Cambridge wears frequently, has said in the Telegraph “Kate Middleton is the perfect modern-day woman.” Here is Kate Middleton, wearing a Temperley London design.
Is Kate Middleton the perfect modern-day woman? I’d have to say she is not… is anyone? But here’s the catch: Temperley’s comments have been taken a bit out of context in the Telegraph‘s headline which reads “Alice Temperley interview: ‘Kate Middleton is the perfect modern-day woman’.”
Here’s the actual quote:
“The Duchess is an inspiration,” she says. “She’s very graceful, gracious and she’s a brilliant ambassador for British fashion. She mixes up designer and high street; the perfect modern-day woman.”
So in that regard (ie. to a designer), maybe she is the perfect modern-day woman. She does look beautifully turned out either in casual clothes or in a tiara. Check her out both ways in Kate Middleton wears a tiara, and effortlessly casual in 5 things Kate Middleton can’t do that other moms can.
We’re just a fan of her style in general. Be sure to see 5 Kate Middleton looks we love and how to get them, and 4 coat dresses for moms inspired by Kate Middleton.
What do you think, is she the perfect modern-day woman, or is that a silly phrase?
How would you feel if you came home to find your child torturing a cat or dog? What if it was a housefly, instead? Or perhaps a cockroach?
The idea of a child inflicting pain on a helpless creature (no matter how pesky it may be) should be disturbing to any parent—and many are unhappy with a Michigan-based company that’s encouraging children to act out sadistic experiments on insects.
Sold by Backyard Brains, RoboRoach is a kit that instructs kids to sand and, with a needle, puncture cockroaches’ thoraxes, before gluing electrodes throughout the body and attaching a battery pack to the roach’s back—all in an effort to control the roach’s movements with the help of a smartphone app. In essence, it turns a live being into a remote-control car.
I don’t believe that’s the sort of behaviour parents would like their children to demonstrate. Kids are often fascinated by insects, and it’s perfectly fine. But I would hope that most would encourage children to learn in a more compassionate fashion.
When I was little, I collected snails, which I kept in a recycled popcorn pail. Initially, I fed and cared for them, but eventually my neglect led to their demise. It was heartbreaking for me, and I was riddled with guilt and shame.
Both my child self and RoboRoach users inflicted harm on bugs. But what separates my act of destruction with what the RoboRoach kit aims to do is the underlying compassion or lack thereof. The connection between sadistic children or young adults and acts of violence toward humans later in life has been long established.
And we’re all familiar with how technology has taken bullying from the playground to the World Wide Web—and just how fatal that can be. Now we’re also supposed to worry about how it can lead to physical harm against nonhuman creatures, too? (For those who think no harm, no foul, studies have shown that cockroaches experience pain and exhibit social behaviour; they possess complex memory and learning, and have enough neural circuits for consciousness.)
Thankfully, Apple recently confirmed to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that it has rejected the RoboRoach app’s bid to be sold in its App Store; Google is in the process of making a decision on whether it will become available for Android users.
Here’s to inspiring a generation of compassionate children and a humane future.
Photo courtesy FlickrCC/Eric Lim Photography
Tegu blocks are pretty cool, in theory. They are:
-magnetic wooden toy blocks for imaginative building
-responsibly made in Honduras with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification.
-made by a fully independent company that says it pays its employees a living wage, and prioritizes long-term career growth
-non-gendered. Which I really can’t say about most of the other building-type toys on the market. Sometimes I thank goodness I grew up in the 80s before the full-blown pinkification of toys came into play. (Read my colleague Jennifer Gruden’s post on the “Boy toy ghetto” here.)
Gorgeous and sleek to hold and look at, Tegu are costly, but they definitely are built to last. I bought a starter set for my son’s 5th birthday a few months back, and they’ve been dropped on the floor from a decent height a number of times and they’re not even dinged.
One thing I have noticed though is that my son does not like these Tegu blocks as much as his other building toys, like Make-Its (a modern Tinker Toys set of wheels, squares and sticks), bristle blocks and the many other plastic blocks that he has–those old standbys still seem to offer more flexibility and intuitive use than these wooden blocks.
The issue it seems is the placement of the magnets. The magnets in many blocks, especially the very long ones, are not quite where he expects them to be, so he’s not able to build the structures and shapes he imagines because they don’t “stick” at the points he wants them to; a shortcoming for any engineering-minded kid. Though I do feel a small amount of frustration is good for kids, that’s what sparks ingenuity. Yet at a price tag of over $100 for the set I bought (I plan on keeping this set and passing it down/around the family), I think I’m right to expect a really excellent product that’s intuitive and doesn’t need tape or elastic bands to hold it together to create a shape a child has visualized in his or her mind.
My guess is that Tegu will refine this product, and the second or third generation will be excellent. It’s pretty good right now, but it could be better.
This week, the fall in Canada’s ranking to 13th overall in the latest results from the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment has set off a national discussion about math education in Canada. (Link: Globe and Mail)
From our house we are cheering the discussion on. This morning I caught most of CBC’s The Current‘s segment on math this morning and it mirrored my frustration.
The first guest, Edmonton mom Sue Buhler, talked about how her sons are required to show two strategies in arriving at their answers – which has resulted, she believes, in them not knowing which strategy to apply and sticking to it until they master it. In other words (this is my interpretation), they get so mired in the process they lose sight of the answer.
She also said her sons don’t know basic math facts like their times tables.
Then Paul Alves, President Elect of the Ontario Association for Mathematics Education, came on the show and talked about how important problem-solving is and how kids need to learn critical thinking and really understand all the reasoning behind their work. But I came away feeling like he never really answered any questions about how this impacts on kids being able to actually do the math directly. And that is exactly the problem I have with how my son seems to be experiencing his learning about math.
It’s all very fuzzy.
I think the international score is a concern — and shows something isn’t working
If our kids’ test scores are falling against other countries’ results, wouldn’t that be an indication that this multiple-strategy, theory-over-answers approach is not working? Because frankly: This is math. Out of any standardized, international testing, math should be one of the areas where it is clear students can either arrive at the correct answer (regardless of which strategies they choose to apply) or not.
I agree it would be fantastic if at the end of every unit, my son was secure in his multiple problem-solving strategies and had a deep-level understanding of whatever the unit was about. I’d also like him to have one strategy that is efficient and which he can apply consistently. It’s this last piece that doesn’t seem to happen. He muddles through having to write out all his thinking (not easy in grade two or three!) and then the unit ends.
And for my kid, that negates the rest. All he remembers, really, is that he explained and explained what he was doing or thinking or noticing about things like patterns and place value…but not whether or not he can actually do it. I can see that over the last couple of years, the idea of getting a right answer on his worksheet has become less important to him. And that worries me. He’s eight. Sometimes eight-year-olds just need things to be broken down, or simpler. I don’t think if he learned 8×3=24 that would make him unable to also add 8 three times, or add 3 8 times, or write out a pattern of threes.
Elementary school math: Master the basics
And it’s not just me: In the Globe and Mail piece I linked to above, there’s this quote from Anna Stokke, an associate professor in the department of math and statistics at the University of Winnipeg: “The education culture needs to change. Educators need to recognize the importance of practice, hard work and mastering basic skills early on.”
I am sure with an ideal classroom environment and a superstar math teacher, my son would flourish under new math. But here in the real world, as far as I can tell, it’s just not happening. We’ve been so concerned that he has been learning not to worry about the right answer and losing confidence, that we have enrolled him in an extra-curricular math programme.
How have you been finding your kid’s math homework and math programme at school? Do you support the new approach in schools? Do you do extra drills and learning at home?
We’ve got more discussion about math here at Canadian Living: Helen discusses attitudes to math, and we’ve got Top 10 math books for kids. Also, take our homework survey! We want to know what it’s like at your kitchen table.
(Photo: The Smithsonian, via Flickr Creative Commons)
Marketed-to-girls building toy GoldieBlox has been all over the Internet and today, CBC’s The Current.
GoldieBlox first hit my radar for its supposedly pink-aisle-busting ad [formerly] featuring a song by the Beastie Boys, and then for its lawsuit about being able to continue to use the Beastie Boys’ song, which it has now dropped. Newsflash: Girls should have building and engineering toys marketed to them too, and not just be stuck in the princess myth.
While as a mom to two boys I kind of want to grouse — where is the viral marketing campaign trying to get boys into important, social doll play? — I honestly am not that worked up about this particular product.
(Boy and girl play tea party…in 1904)
Kids learn through play. I agree that having a blue/boy section for toys and a pink/girl section for toys is totally problematic. I was raised in the ’70s on Free to Be You and Me and I hate that we are still having to have these discussions.
However, I don’t think that the problem is whether Lego Friends are too purple or GoldieBlox has too much princess sparkle. I think the real problem is that we as parents don’t cross the toy aisles often enough.
This hit me when my eldest son was getting close to 18 months old and starting to play more with toys. We went on a playdate and he was really into a baby doll. I realized I hadn’t actually bought him any dolls, and so I went on a search for one for him. All the dolls I found that were under about $25 and in my local mainstream toy stores were pink. I was pretty infuriated at the time that all the strollers and car seats and everything else were in the “pink aisles.” Where were the boy-oriented dolls?
Finally, I found a set of twin baby dolls where one was a girl and one was a boy and brought them home.
Noah played with them for a few weeks, and then figured out they were great projectiles down the stairs.
Here’s what I learned from all that:
1. If as a family you really believe in a particular toy, don’t wait for the right colour.
There was nothing stopping my 18-month-old from picking up a pink doll but me. And no, Lego doesn’t have to be pink for girls to get all the awesome benefits of playing with it. If you want your child to have a science toy, buy that child a science toy. That said…
2. Cultural messages start early, so make sure you are providing your own.
Boys may be more attracted to “boy toys” and girls may be more attracted to “girl toys” for a wide variety of reasons. But both girls and boys love attention from their parents, so sitting down and playing with them in a wide variety of ways is a pretty good way to introduce them to whatever it is you think they’re lacking.
3. Kids are going to have their own minds about it anyway.
Although I think marketers are thrilled to think that putting the right sparkle on a building toy will make it cool, in fact kids are going to want what they want. And yes, their peers are going to influence that — isn’t that how it worked when you were a kid? And so are ad campaigns. But ultimately, we are our kids’ parents and it’s up to us to support them in what they want — and also get them what we think they need.
That was kind of the original message about “William’s Doll” on Free to Be, You and Me anyway…William wanted a doll. His parents were the ones who wouldn’t buy it for him.
So what’s your take? Do kids naturally gravitate to toys based on gender? Have you got a pink or blue ghetto going at your house?
(Photo: Miami University Libraries, via Flickr Creative Commons)
Remember Maria Kang, the “What’s Your Excuse?” mom we posted about in October? She’s been banned from Facebook. You can read her version of the posts and events that led to her getting banned here in this post “I am banned from Facebook”.
After reading Kang’s version of events, and Jezebel’s take on it here, a few things are uncertain to me:
1. Why exactly is Kang banned? For hate speech? Is what she said hate speech?: “I woke up this morning to news stories about how overweight nearly obese women should be proud of their bodies (as they posed in lingerie). I think we should all accept how any healthy body through good nutrition and exercise manifests but I’m starting to get annoyed…”
2. Is she forever banned, temporarily banned (that seems to be the case) or is just her page banned?
3. Haven’t you, in fairness, seen worse on Facebook? Her opinion might be wrong or right or obnoxious or even hateful depending on how you look at it…but isn’t it just an opinion? It seems like someone (or many people) reported it as abusive, and thus it got taken down, but was that really necessary?
What do you think?
Today’s XBox One release is full of hype. Is this the next video game console for your family?
Here’s what I learned at the preview:
It is pretty cool. The HD camera works to recognize everyone in your family, to the degree that you can even hand the controller to someone else and the XBox will switch players. It also works better than the previous generation in small rooms. You can give voice commands by starting them off with “XBox” Star Trek style, which isn’t technology news any more but I still think is cool. However (and I asked), there is no word on what XBox will do if two small boys are yelling opposing commands simultaneously.
It is, however, a big box, so make sure you have room on your shelf next to all the Diego DVDs.
The XBox One is designed to be an entertainment hub. You can put your cable service through it, and use other apps like Netflix and Skype. It can run two of them at once so you can play a game and listen to music, or pause your game and take a Skype call. For me there’s a big appeal to having Skype in the living room for snowbirding grandparents to watch the kids rather than lining them up in front of the laptop. I also like the idea that my kids would get the impression that playing a video game is one choice among many.
It does let kids be creators. Besides some of the neat building games that are around, XBox One provides the capacity to record and upload video, and editing tools are available as well. I think this helps our kids be more active creators than passive consumers.
The games are really awesome. I cannot speak to Xbox vs. Playstation, but the Forza Motorsports 5 video game made me want to play because of the level of detail as you race on courses around the world, and I am not usually a huge video game fan. Although apparently Xbox Live will match me to a player at my level…
Parental controls remain intact so you can keep all the powers you’re used to.
So my question is…are video games a big part of your family entertainment? I have a vision that we will all one day play a game like Guitar Hero together, but in truth video games in my family are mostly a father-son affair, and we still limit them a fair amount.
Each Thursday, I would like to be able to interview a kid.
I love getting a child’s perspective on the stories making headlines today.
I sat down with a 14 year old boy and asked him a few questions about one of the current news items on everyone’s mind…Rob Ford!
TS: Have you been following the Rob Ford saga?
14 yr old: Ya. Sometimes I talk about it at school with my friends.
TS: What do you think about the most recent news in which City Council further reduced him of his power?
14 yr old:I think it’s bullying and I don’t think it’s fair. I think he’s been making good choices for the city as mayor. I think his personal life and his public life should remain separate. He has made some dumb choices as a person. He’s human. People make mistakes.
TS: Do you think he should step down as mayor?
14 yr old:I think the people of Toronto should make that decision at next year’s election, not City Council.
TS: What would you like to see happen next?
14 yr old:I would like him to go away for a while, get the help he needs and then come back stronger.