Dear Grandparenting: I spent ten months with my daughter’s family on a farm to get away from the pandemic in the city. That gave me plenty of time and opportunity to get to know my grandsons.
They are sweet kids, two genuinely nice boys. But I’m afraid they’re going through that weird adolescent stage where their heads aren’t on right.
My grandsons pay attention to the wrong things. Lately it’s “the perfect selfie,” taking a knockout snapshot of yourself using your cell phone. After listening to them endlessly talk it over, I’m convinced my grandsons are willing to risk life and limb.
Today they’re zeroed in on selfies with sharks, alligators or pythons. Last week it was this thing they call “skywalking,” photos from the highest point of really tall buildings. How stupid is this? What’s with this crazy selfie obsession? Jodi O’Malley, Tampa, Flordia
Dear Jodi: Welcome to the frightening world of digital daredevils, all smiles while casually dangling their feet high atop a Grand Canyon ledge, reclining on railroad tracks as speeding trains approach or posing beside red-hot lava flows.
Grandchildren inhabit an increasingly visual social media universe. Popular platforms like Facebook are all about connecting with others, using selfies to present oneself in a certain way. Studies show that gaining friends and likes on Facebook activates dopamine pleasure pathways in the brain, much like praise and recognition for a job well done.
But in order to gain on-line attention through a selfie, you’ve got to show the crowd something new and different. Visuals with shock value work well. The greater the risk, the greater the reward, and presumably all the more likes.
Although adults also succumb to temptation, youth are at the greatest risk, generally because their judgment and impulse control leave something to be desired and they tend to think they’re invincible. Digital campaigns to create awareness of the problem are a start, along with captions warning, “A cool selfie could cost you your life.”
Grand remark of the week
Carl Costa from Dayton, Ohio likes the line he overheard at a party: “My grandkids think I’m the oldest thing in the world. And after two hours with them, I believe it too!”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.