Selfie Culture; What a Bunch of Posers!

One of my secret pleasures is looking at random selfies. I have found that many subjects, mainly those under 25, have a few poses to pull ready for the shot. When looking at these and I often wonder how did they decide on that  pose? How many photos did it take to achieve such photographic confidence?

Kids Today

When I compare the way my kids, especially my daughter (6), handle themselves in front of the camera it is clear that the ability to pose just comes with experience. Although she doesn’t ask to delete photos that she’s not happy with, I am sure that this is not that far away! When taking photos I can ask for a variety of expressions from her and she hits it almost every time. A part of this success is that she wants to see the photos straight away. Could this be an aid to memory? I believe so. With the immediate result it’s easier to see if the pose had the desired effect. If not then a new photo can be taken in seconds.

You Lookin’ at Me?

Generally, I don’t enjoy getting my photo taken (despite a recent post), or even looking in a mirror. It was something that I was never used to as photos were mostly taken to mark a special occasion. They were not especially expensive, but there was a cost and time involved. Film was sometimes developed weeks after the shot and there was no second chances to capture the moment. Occasionally a roll would come back and some photos were taken over six months ago! I didn’t give too much thought as to what I looked like in a photo at the time it was taken; it just happened. But with modern devices it’s possible to have reflective considerations on how you look in photos and this can prepare you for times when you’re not in total control of the camera.

I’m No Model but…

I don’t believe taking a selfie is vain, and knowing how to handle yourself in a photo is an ever increasing important skill. Imagine going for a job and the interviewer takes your photo (this has happened to me three times), do you want your one chance to stand out to be a good one? You can’t ask to see the photo – well you could but that’s not going to go well – and you need to be confidant that you look your absolute best to stand out of the slush pile.

Selfie Skillz

Like most things taking a good selfie requires skill and patience. Find out what works best for you. However there are a few tips that I’ve picked up in my travels.

  • Look up to the camera and not down.
  • Avoid the front on shot, a slight angle is more interesting.
  • Don’t look into the light, find some shade if possible.
  • Take many and pick the best one.
  • Delete as you go, don’t wait until the memory is full.

These work for me in most situations, but not necessarily for everyone. Figure out what works best for you; but also remember not every photo needs to be a selfie.

Feel free to comment below with your own selfie tips!

Feature Image: Posers by Mick C (CC BY 2.0)

The Family Gaming Debate: Should You Restrict Kids Access to Gaming?

Now I don’t have any problems with my children playing video games and I am a gamer myself. I believe they are a form of entertainment and I don’t believe they have many negative effects beyond that of any other entertainment. But as with everything, moderation is best and over use can lead to problems.

Excessive Gaming Issues

I have noticed that at times my son can become aggressive when gaming. To counter this we have recommended that he go and do something else for a while. It could be assumed that this behavior is tied to the games, however this is more the catalyst rather than the problem. Usually when he is ‘losing control’ it is due to sleep deprivation and caused by him not going to bed. Recently he, at times, has been staying up late playing, and this has resulted in his sleeping patterns being disrupted. As he is playing games online, and with players all over the world, there is no down time and he can find a game to play at anytime, and this is the main problem.

Restricting Access

In order to assist him in maintaining a healthy playing structure, we decided to limit the consoles access. At the start we set times for two breaks, one at midday and the other at six, both of these. We picked these times so he stopped at meal times. We also set it to clock off a ten, and return at seven the next morning. This worked well for a few weeks. After a while he asked for the daytime’s to be switched off as it was interrupting his play with friends. The fact that he asked, rather than moaned, and ha proper arguments we agreed and removed the block for the day, and we let the night one out to eleven, which was the time that his friends seemed to leave as well.

Is it the Real Solution?

Turning off the console can create new issues as, you are doing two very different things. The first is removing a form of entertainment and the second is you are restricting communication with friends. So when you are taking away the gaming console, you are also saying that they can’t play with their friends. The gaming console has become a personal safe place for them to hangout. It’s the mall of the current generation.

A Better Way?

Recently I have become more mindful that when he is ‘playing’ he is actually interacting with friends. When I want to talk with him, I ask him to turn off the mic, so I don’t embarrass him in front of his friends. I needed to realise that this is his place and I am an outsider. Our communication became better when I learned what he thought of as acceptable. For example, he is fine being called to dinner and other general family business, but talking about anything personal needs to be approached more carefully.

I guess it is about respect and privacy. Sometimes he is okay with me watching and talking about the game and other times he is not. I need to read each situation and act accordingly. If I get a bit of a stare-down I know that he wants to be left alone. Obviously I can choose to do so or not, but if I don’t need to tell him something then usually I leave him be and if not we have worked out signals so he can ‘opt out’ of the game for a second so his mates don’t hear what I am saying.

Learning to Deal with New Tech

Sometimes I feel that these are issues that my own parents did not have to deal with. But of course they had, it was just slightly different. Even though the console still turns off at eleven, and he usually goes to bed at a reasonable hour, I feel that he was right and the day times were a bit excessive.

If you’re having problems with excessive use perhaps try limiting the console’s access to the internet, but as with everything a discussion that involves all parties can result in a smoother transition.

What are your thoughts on restricting kids access to gaming? Feel free to comment below.

Feature Image: xbox controller. by Adam.James (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

How to Get Kids into Cooking

Getting kids into cooking can lead to many benefits. As a parent one thing I have always struggled with is getting them to eat good food. A short Google search and it is clear that I’m not alone. Just reading recently I found an article that talked about hows children are losing the ability to cook. This was due to our busy schedules and the rise in the consumption of ‘ready’ meals.

So… what’s the Problem?

My daughter hates fruit and vegetables. When presented with one, she cries, pretends to choke and takes an inordinate amount of time to chew them. I think for her it is more about the mouth feel of the offending item rather than the taste. While my son eats veggies okay, when it comes to getting himself something he will live on weet-bix and biscuits. If it is anything more complex than milk in a bowl then it doesn’t happen.

A Possible Solution…

So I decided to get them cooking. The first time I allowed them to choose what they would make. The girl, who is up for anything, wanted to do the rice. The boy picked the veggies. I know my daughter can help as often in the past she has wanted to help. She is just at that age so it will wear off soon. My son was happy to help. He has really been making an effort in his attitude and is maturing well for a fourteen year old.

And the Results?

I was happy with their choices as I felt that it suited their abilities. Dry rice and water, was perfect for her. There was not much to go wrong and we had a good laugh later when she got some peas ready, and pead all over the bench and floor. I was able to teach my son how much he needed to cut off the sweet potato and carrots. On his first go he tried to cut about 5cm off the top of the carrots, a quick explanation and that was resolved. Having patience here really helps, and I reminded myself that they knew next to nothing. During this I also found that he did not know how to use a peeler, he was using the edge of the blade instead of the cutting surface in the middle. It took him a few goes, but he soon got the hang of it.

In the end I feel they both enjoyed their time in the kitchen, and the next night we tried something more technical. We are also experimenting with dinner at the table, however this is all much easier when one hasn’t worked all day. I think that reminding myself that doing this will help them become more independent and have less fear when that day of moving eventually comes. No parent likes to think about that but not doing so and you are doing your children a disservice. We will see I I have the discipline to continue this plan in the future, I hope so because cooking two different meals a night by myself is REALLY boring.

Feature Image: Morning Brew by Derek Buff (CC BY-NC 2.0)


Removing Religion from Public Holidays

The majority of public holidays in Australia have nothing to do with being Australian. Days that are celebrated include, New Years Day, Australia Day, ANZAC Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Christmas and Boxing Day (except SA). Other common days, although they are celebrated on different days in each state, include, Labour Day and Queen’s Birthday.

Eureka Flag and Sculpture by Takver (CC BY-SA 2.0)

With the movement to relocate Australia Day gaining intensity – it’s been an issue since 1938 – it prompted me to think about our other holidays and with the exception of ANZAC Day they hold no conclusive bearing on anything to do with our country. I agree that they did at one point, but this is no longer the case. Especially with what I call the religion holidays. In a multicultural society mandatory religious public holidays are more divisive than inclusive. I for one do not celebrate any religious holiday and while I would not support any policy that takes away a persons right to freedom of religion, I think that removing these holidays from our calendar to be a sign of a progressive nation.

What I would propose is a system where these holidays are replaced with ones that have significance to Australian Cultural events. For those in the workforce that feel the need to have certain days off in order to celebrate their chosen religion, an employer could be compelled to accept any request for time off to attend a religious gathering on nominated days. This could be limited to four days, which would cover the current public holidays and result in no change – for those without religion it could be any four days of their choosing – but the important issue is that an employer cannot say no. However an employee should nominate what religion they follow at the time of employment.

The removal of religious days as public holidays would be of benefit to companies, as some of the exorbitant penalty rates and trading restrictions applied to these days would also be removed. This is inline with the recent decision to alter the penalty rates for Sunday. Which was most likely brought in to benefit those that were asked to work on the Sabbath, which holds little bearing on today’s society.

Wall of Poppies – Rememberance Day

Of the other public holidays, only ANZAC day is a true Australian cultural holiday as it affects all Australians. Australia Day should be relocated to January 1, and replace New Years Day. Labor Day is celebrated with the Moomba Festival in Victoria, a change to Moomba Day would not be a hard push. Queen’s Birthday has ties to Australia being an English Colony, but since the signing of the Australia Act in 1986 all possibilities for British involvement in the country were ceased.

In Victoria, we have two days that celebrate sporting events, Melbourne Cup Day and AFL Grand Final Day. While I am not a supporter of either of these days, they at least have some symbolism on what it is to be Australian – as we are a sporting nation. But what of our other achievements? We have nothing to celebrate our native culture or our scientific and artistic achievements, should these not get a look in? The religious holidays have a stranglehold on how we celebrate as a nation.

In the recent Australian Census (2016) it has been made clear that the new dominant religion is no religion (30.1%), although this statistic is only dominant when the branches of Christianity are separate, but I would argue that a Catholic and an Anglican would not agree that they are the same. I believe it is time to start moving away form elements that do nothing but help divide the country and make it harder to be the true multicultural melting pot that many people, especially politicians, claim that we are.

Do you agree of disagree? What suggestions do you have for new Australian public holidays? Feel free to comment below.

Feature Image: Other Religion by Tom Rolfe (CC BY-NC 2.0)