BLUE WHALE APP MADNESS

 

Sean and I recently attended a talk by Brad Huddleston, writer of the book Digital Cocaine. He spoke of the many side effects of digital addiction prevalent in everyone with access to technology, from 3 year old kids to adults. He said that one of the  common side effects of this addiction in kids and teens was self mutilation – cutting. I took this information in with a sense of disbelief and shock!!!

 

But this mornings news report on the Blue Whale App just made all of it a reality. The Blue Whale App was designed for kids (particularly vulnerable kids) to lure them into following the instructions in the game. They are given 50 days to complete perverse acts. These include watching horror movies, cutting and posting pics to prove it. The last act is suicide – the idea that a whale has beached itself and dies.

 

Perhaps most disturbing, are the stats. To date 130 teen suicides in Europe are linked to the App. My first thought is how could these kids be so gullible. But the designer is reported to have said that he is cleansing society, as teens who do this, would not be any use to society.

 

Predators are purposefully using social media to hurt our kids. Its sick.

 

I  think educating ourselves and our kids is part of the solution. But it will take a combined effort – from government intervention, to schools driving awareness and tech companies commitment to end the scourge.

 

Still I’m not sure whats more shocking, that a game like this exists or that kids are falling into its trap. That kids follow instructions on a screen to the point of death – that ones on us. We bear the responsibility to stay connected to our kids, to stay vigilant, to stay prayerful and to acknowledge digital addiction as a reality and a threat!!!!

 

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ONE PLATE AT A TIME

I am nowhere near the super mums of our time – the ones that have galvanized their whole homes into perfectly working ecosystems in oneness with the planet. I’m trying, and it takes a lot of time – time to label read, to unlearn, learn again and to make different choices.

 

In the homes of some of these mums, they eat organic whole foods (many of them pick from their own gardens). They use glass – only glass, they drink purified water, they only drink water!!!!. They bant or graze or???? They live in sugar free homes and their kids embrace it. They consume hormone free milk and free range poultry. Their breakfasts and most other meals are gmo free. They wear pure cotton or pure wool. They only use organic soap, shampoo and bubble bath. They use bicarbonate of  soda or aluminium free deodorant on their arm pits. They use clothe nappies and they gym as a family. They use natural medicine. They switch the wifi off at night and they recycle. Phew !!!! I’m exhausted just reading it all aloud.

 

They read labels – oh yes!!! And they KNOW stuff. They know how the processed foods and all the chemicals make the brain tick, the body grow and the hormones do what they’re not supposed to. Shoo they know … and they put me to “agha shame”.

 

Ha !!!!! I mean we still do junk food. Writing this makes me feel like I’m telling a nasty secret. And while I’m confessing, I might as well tell you that my kids love sugar. We try to keep our home “sweet free” on ordinary days (which are weekdays and weekends) but it only lasts until granny comes to visit. They even call granny the “sweetie shop”.  I give my kids hot dogs for lunch. Broken down into content language, it is nothing more than processed chicken on a carb with little or no nutritional value. Some super mums I know, give their kids hummus, cucumber and biltong for lunch or smoked salmon with slices of tomatoes and cream cheese. Like wowsers!!!!!

 

We’re not there yet!!! We do set out healthy snacks in help yourself jars of biltong, nuts and whatever is trending. We use a water purifier and drink plenty of water. We recycle. We also try to use natural products on our bodies.

 

We do plenty of fresh fruit and veggies. I buy them old school from a green grocer – where there aren’t any labels. So admittedly, i don’t how they’re farmed.

 

We avoid processed foods. We do make a point of buying hormone free milk, free range eggs and try to go organic as far as possible. We steam our veg and oven bake our proteins on most nights. When oil is needed we use olive or coconut oil as our first choice. Why – because I agree – food content is not what it used to be and the human body is not made to consume processed food and chemicals. I believe all the rubbish we consume will show up adversely down the line, in our health.

 

But hey the conflict is that a wrap can’t substitute a home made roti and rye bread cant substitute a fat cake. Baked sweet potatoe strips with a grilled piece of meat can’t replace a Russian special seasoned with masala and a dash of vinegar from your local Akhalwayas. Yum!!!  Yes I know it’s bad for your health. There goes that ‘nasty secret’ feeling again.

 

So what do I do to give my family optimal nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. I take it in stages, one  purchase and one plate at a time – while I label read, unlearn, learn again and make different choices.

 

OUR FAMILY RITUALS

Our family has so many rituals. Some are – when you come to think of it – unusual. Like pickle fish at Easter time or home made ginger beer at Christmas or spicy syrup and coconut koeksusters on Sundays. I know this is tradition among different cultural groups in South Africa or common to them all. And there is always competition, albeit whispered discreetly behind cups of tea as to whose is better or whose is down right awful.

 

Our family (on my mother side) has wine sauce with Christmas pudding. It’s yum and I’m yet to find another family who does the same. Okay, okay, don’t lambaste me if you have its famous recipe treasured in your family’s December memories. My aunts used to set aside a day to bake a wide variety of biscuits every December before Christmas (pinched date cookies – never seen them anywhere else). And the same cookies would only make their appearance once a year.

 

My husband and his five siblings recall fried rice, roast potatoes and chicken as the dinner time meal for every birthday.

 

My mum in law turned seventy six in the week. The family came together for pot luck. And as usual, the family favorites arrived hot and delicious. Aunty Ursula’s Lesagna and Oumies cheese, spinach and chicken pie. And of course fried rice, roast potatoes and chicken.

 

And then there’s that photo that everyone forgets was taken and surfaces years later to show kids smiling around the birthday cake. It’s so nostalgic to look at them years later and think of something special from your past.

 

I love family rituals so much. We’ve started our own. Sean takes a walk with the kids late on Saturday afternoons to hire a movie for the evening.

 

We go out for dinner with the extended family on the kids birthdays and have a party for their friends on the following weekend. They get to choose the theme, gran gets to roll out the fondant and I get to spend hours icing the cake to their exact specifications.

 

My kids take it in turns to lay the table every night in the style that they want. Sometimes the plates and glasses are piled high in the Centre of the table. Other times it’s orderly and the layer of the table gets to tell everyone where to sit because it’s their turn and their idea.

 

We never started all of this intentionally. It just flowed naturally from the mixed masala of personalities that make us us. Rituals are unusual things – they have the power to create a strong sense of unity, togetherness and identity. And all of these will turn into memories that we cherish and give us a sense of where we come from and who we belong to.