We’ve put our best stuff, plus a lot of new stuff, in our recently released book. Great as a gift for any caregiver that has to understand the world of our children and youth. In a clear and accessible way, it shines a light on the social and technological environment that parents find mystifying and frightening. It covers a host of important and up-to-date issues including social media, finances and gambling, television, health (alcohol, drugs, vaping, depression, suicide), relationships, bullying, gaming, and many others. The book’s organization into topical chapters allows the reader to quickly find well-researched information on a given issue. A salient feature of the book is that it is largely written by young people themselves who have experienced these challenges yet have done the hard work of thoroughly investigating and reporting each topic. Get it now in Kindle or paperback version at Amazon.com
When I hear MTV television shows, I usually think of reality television shows like “Jersey Shore” and “Teen Mom.”
What I don’t think of, and what I don’t think many people think of, are honest and serious shows with an in-depth look into real life.
MTV’s new four-part show, “16 and Recovering,” details the struggles and hardships of teenage addiction, and how parents and caretakers can effectively help teens with addiction.
I think that parents and teens should all sit down and watch this mini-series, whether its together or separately.
The show takes place at Northshore Recovery High School in Massachusetts, where the MTV film crew, including award-winning director Steve Liss, was given an inside look into the lives of teens with addiction, their families and their teachers.
The founder of Northshore, Michelle Lipinski, is not only the school principal but a confidant, friend and even loved one to all of the students. The students not only trust Lipinski but all of the staff at Northshore. They share their struggles, secrets and hardships with the staff members, as they would close friends.
The teachers and caretakers at Northshore don’t punish students when they relapse or make a mistake. They just express their support and love for their students and encourage them back onto the right path.
I think that the way the Northshore staff handles teen addiction is a perfect model for how parents and caretakers everywhere should handle their own teens who may be struggling. By showing only love and support, with no anger or strong discipline, the kids feel like they can always be honest with them, rather than fear them and hide their wrongdoings.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Lipinski spoke about how she did not wish for the camera crew to record the students using any drugs. She said that the show is about teenage recovery, not the drug use.
The show also shows how mental illness and addiction go hand in hand. In one scene, a student named Alba says how depression and addiction go together like “cheese and crackers.” Many of the students struggle with mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, on top of the addictions.
While the series shows how the support and love of family and caretakers can help struggling youth addicts, it doesn’t hide the fact that some teens end up giving in to their addiction and are unable to survive because of it.
MTV hopes to lead the change in the entertainment industry when it comes to depicting mental illness on screen.
The show has four parts, each airing Tuesday evenings at 9 pm on MTV. The first episode aired on September 1.
As the summer continues to segue into grey September days, this Autumn feels a little different than usual, especially when it comes to youth sports.
Some states have decided to cancel fall youth sports altogether, while others have given the green flag.
But, whether your kid’s athletics are canceled for the season or still going, it’s not a bad idea to start thinking about some different options that they can do to stay active while also staying safe and healthy.
And with social distancing here to stay for the time being, I recommend you check out these sports that can be played while maintaining social distancing:
It’s one of those sports that it seems like you either love it or hate it. It also is something that all you need to get into it is a decent pair of sneakers.
But either way, running and cross country, especially for would-be varsity athletes, really should be a sport that makes a comeback because of COVID-19.
If you are someone who doesn’t necessarily love sports or is a little self-conscious about being athletic, running is a great place to start mainly because it’s largely an independent activity.
It improves cardiovascular health and also reduces the body’s stress hormones, says a Harvard Healthstudy.
I suggest you do make sure you’re kid does learn some safety protocols and procedures, such as running against traffic in highly-visible clothing.
Known as the middle child between traditional tennis and table tennis, pickleball is a similar paddle sport played between two or four players.
In my high school, we had a pickleball tournament every year in gym class. I think one of the coolest things about the game is that so many kids, even the ones who normally didn’t get overly excited about gym class, could get decent at pickleball pretty quickly.
Paddles and balls are relatively inexpensive. And there are more and more pickleball courts in communities today. If your community doesn’t have a pickleball court, you can modify a tennis court by doing the following.
So Footgolf is, as you probably guessed, a combination of soccer and golf. Played just like regular golf or disc golf, it is played by golfers using a soccer ball to navigate the course, working around hazards to get the ball in the hole in the fewest amount of kicks or strokes.
Most footgolf courses are played at regular golf courses, but for a substantially lower price than regular golf. If your kid is into soccer but can’t play this season due to concerns regarding COVID-19, or if they just like kicking things, try taking them to a footgolf course and see how it goes.
If your kid isn’t into running, maybe they’d be interested in one of the best alternatives, cycling. The sport has become so popular since COVID-19 hit back in March, that it’s been difficult to find bicycles to buy at times.
But if your kid already has a bike, or you’re able to get your hands on one, enjoy it. Cycling can be a great, healthy sport that the whole family can get involved in.
It seems like more bike trails are being put in yearly, which gives cyclists a safe place to enjoy biking while seeing the world and nature in a different way than they’re used to.
The sport is also another one that provides cardiovascular benefits, while also helping your kid develop better coordination.
Alright, so I might be a little biased here, but I believe that fantasy sports are a great way for teens to keep in touch with the game while still being removed from actually playing it.
While fantasy football is the most popular and well-known fantasy sport, nowadays there is pretty much a fantasy version for every real sport. There’s everything from fantasy golf, to fantasy NASCAR, to even fantasy cricket.
Fantasy sports can be a great critical-thinking challenge and has various stats and trends to follow. Believe it or not, to be a high-level fantasy sports player, you actually need to be decent at math and statistics.
But there is the other side of fantasy sports, gambling. Quite obviously there is a large amount of luck involved in the game and you can quickly lose your buy-in if you’re playing for money. Warn your kids about playing for money. I’ve written other blogs on this site describing how some of my friends went several thousand dollars in the hole. I suggest keeping it low-stakes and for primarily bragging rights. But remember, kids should be able to enjoy fantasy sports without any betting at all.
If your kids are like me and many others, their addiction to the social media video app, TikTok, has tremendously grown since the beginning of quarantine.
TikTok has been all over the news lately, due to the fact that President Trump plans to ban the app because of its connection to China and its government. More recently he has asked that its U.S. assets be sold to a U.S. company. In the past few days, news has been announced that TikTok is now planning to sue the Trump administration because of all this.
TikTok is an app filled with different kinds of short videos including content such as dancing, baking, crafting, pranking, etc. Many kids are very fond of the dancing videos, following popular Tiktokers like Addison Rae, and, Charli and Dixie D’Amelio.
While dance videos aren’t necessarily inappropriate content, some of the Tiktokers and the dances they come up with are provocative and can send the wrong message to kids.
After these TikTok influencers come up with a new dance, it has the possibility to go viral and be recreated by millions. Kids and teens love to recreate the dance videos made by their favorite TikTok dancers. They post these recreation videos and tag their favorite dance TikToker to try to also become as popular as them.
An example of a new TikTok dance challenge that is not exactly appropriate is the “WAP” dance. This dance became a viral sensation on TikTok after the release of the song “WAP” by Cardi B and Megan the Stallion. I’m not comfortable telling you what “WAP” means in this blog. You’ll have to Google it.
The lyrics of the song are very raunchy, overly sexual and the context of the song is not something that parents might want their kids listening to. The dance involves lots of twerking, simulated sex acts, high kicks and a split.
The dance is not exactly safe either. One person ended up in the hospital after attempting the dance. This Tiktoker landed on her knee while attempting the dance and had to have her knee popped back into place.
An article in Vice, by Rachel Miller, details how to talk to your children about what the song stands for. She consults Erin Harper, a nationally certified school psychologist, assistant professor of psychology at Texas A&M and author of Dear Mom, You Don’t Get to Have Nice Things.
In the article Miller and Harper discuss how with adolescents and older kids, the song can actually spark a conversation between parent and child about sexuality and having the freedom to express yourself and to be proud of your body.
Overall, it’s up to the parents to decide what is appropriate or not for their kids’ ears. Even though the song can be a gateway to an open and honest conversation, some parents might not want their kids hearing the lyrics in general.
For younger children, they say that they might be too young to discuss the sexual language and content in the song. Instead, they say parents should tell their kids that the song is “about women who are feeling strong and happy.”
Overall, it’s up to the parents to decide what is appropriate or not for their kids’ ears. Even though the song can be a gateway to an open and honest conversation, some parents might not want their kids hearing the lyrics in general.
Back-to-school season won’t have the same excitement this year for kids and teachers. On top of the normal craziness of a new school year, educators and parents are worrying about how to keep their kids safe if they have to sit in a classroom and learn with other children. Hopefully, our back-to-school tips will give you some ideas on how to do that.
My niece’s elementary school created a hybrid schedule to minimize unnecessary contact between students. The first half of the alphabet goes into school the first half of the week while the other half is remote. Then they swap for the second half of the week. But it turns out that many of her close friends fall into the opposite group as her. This year is going to be hard on kids in a lot of ways.
This is as new for them as it is for you, so I pulled advice from some resources to help you as your kids prepare to step back into the classroom.
Back to School in COVID-19 Times
Check in with Your Child Every Day
Regardless of whether or not your school requires it, take your kid’s temperature each morning when they get up. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and you would rather learn they’re sick yourself then getting a call later from a school nurse. Confirm with them that they know to tell you even if they feel only a little bit sick.
Designate a Spot for School Items
Back-to-school season usually stirs up a lot of germs that get brought into your house to begin with, but this year will be even worse. Find a spot in your house where your kid can leave their backpack, shoes, jacket, and lunchbox. A good place is typically right by the front door or garage door.
Sanitize as Soon as They Get Home
Once they leave their stuff at the door, get them in the habit of at least changing into new clothes and washing their hands. If they took any toys or devices to school, make sure those get wiped down before your kid uses them in the house. Same goes for you, parents, if you work around other people during the day.
Regularly Wash Cloth Masks
Don’t let a mask become one of those items that gets lost forever in your kid’s backpack. Create a consistent schedule for washing your kid’s masks. Make sure they have a few comfortable masks they can switch in and out when the others are getting washed. You may even want to put the entire household on the same mask-washing schedule to assure you’re all covered.
Create a Home School Area
If you haven’t already, you may want to have a specific place for your kid to go to do their homework and schoolwork. If they are doing all or some schooling during the day from home, this is essential. Kids have been stuck in their houses for months. It will be helpful for them to have certain places for focused work that is separate from the area in which they can play and have down time.
Going along with that, organize a schedule with them for homework time before they play. Especially if they didn’t have a lot of structure during out-of-school months (did any of us?), they will need help getting back into a routine.
Let Them Talk to Their Friends
I’m thinking about all the kids in a similar situation as my niece. They won’t get to see their buddies much, and socializing is an important part of childhood development. It might mean they’re on their devices a little more to video chat or message each other, but kids communicate differently than when you were a kid.
Take It Easy
On them. On yourself. On others. It’s going to be a big change for everyone.
Support Your Kid’s Teacher
Whether you send in some extra Lysol wipes and tissues or reach out personally, your kids’s teacher will appreciate the sentiment. Everyone is in this together.
While the Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic is the top story on most news channels, we need to remember that our nation is facing another crisis: the opioid epidemic.
According to the American Medical Association (AMA), during the Coronavirus pandemic, there has been an increase in the number of opioid-related deaths.
The AMA said that during this pandemic, more than 35 states have reported increased numbers in opioid-related deaths as well as continuing concerns about substance use disorder.
Reversing the Trend
The Coronavirus has begun to reverse the strides made in recent years to reduce the effects of the opioid epidemic in the United States. New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January showed there was a slight decline in overdose deaths. This was the first reported decline in 28 years.
But the pandemic is reversing those trends. This is due to the isolation, quarantine and economic devastation many have experienced during this pandemic.
“When the pandemic hit, some authorities hoped it might lead to a decrease in overdoses by disrupting drug traffic as boarders and cities shut down,” said William Wan and Heather Long from The Washington Post.
But the pandemic brought anxiety and depression, both of which can drive someone to drug use. Because of the pandemic and quarantine, people have been seeking out new dealers, many of whom are desperate for money due to lack of work because of the pandemic.
Also, during the beginning of the pandemic, many recovery programs and treatment centers had to close to enforce the quarantine and social distancing. Locally, some 12-step programs had to temporarily close because the non-profit facilities they were using were closed to all group meetings.
Drug Use and Your Child
If you’re worried that your child may be affected by the pandemic and may turn toward drug use, there are signs to look for. These signs include lack of motivation, lack of communication, hostile or angry behavior, secretive behavior, lack of focus, sudden loss of inhibitions, and periods of sleeplessness or high extended periods of energy, followed by a crash and then more sleep.
Checking their social media is another way to know if they partake in drug use. Their social media posts or their closer friends may point to drug use.
We’re deeply concerned about both the pandemic and the opioid crisis. Please take the necessary steps to keep your kids, and yourself, safe.
Growing up, sports were an escape for me. I both played and watched many of them.
However, as I’ve aged, I’ve begun to realize how many issues there can be in the sports world. Players who I once considered role-models sometimes get arrested. Owners, who I’ve spent countless hours and money supporting, get in trouble for all kinds of reasons.
Many of these leagues have lost fans and revenue due to different issues. And many are just barely starting back again, due to COVID-19.
However, one sport is seeing a comeback in a major way – The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR).
NASCAR and the Drivers
NASCAR, founded in 1948, was getting increasingly popular in the 2000s when I was growing up. But the sport lost some of its popularity, I believe, when some of its most-popular drivers retired, such as Dale Earnhardt Jr. and my favorite driver, Jeff Gordon.
Recently, there have been some new faces, like Chase Elliott, son of NASCAR Hall-of-Famer Bill Elliott, and Ryan Blaney, also the son of a Hall of Famer. I think these have attracted some new fans to the sport, but according to many sources, NASCAR ratings have still been in decline.
But that was before COVID-19.
NASCAR surges ahead during COVID-19
Because NASCAR drivers race in separate cars, it was the first sport in the U.S. that was able to successfully resume competitions during the pandemic. And because it was trying to make up for lost time, many of the races were scheduled for Wednesday evening, in addition to the normal Sunday afternoon race.
It probably helped NASCAR that many other live sports have been shut down over the last few months, but I don’t think that is the whole story. For example, in May, Darrell (Bubba) Wallace, the sport’s only back driver, worked together with NASCAR to ban confederate flags from NASCAR races. People had been attempting to do this for years. Since then, Bubba has become a sports icon and has opened up NASCAR to a whole new generation of fans.
Why Do I recommend Your Teen Watch NASCAR?
I think one of the biggest benefits of watching NASCAR is the education. While these race cars are not exactly the same as the street-legal car you have in your garage, many of the concepts used in the sport are also true on the street.
I think kids could learn a lot about tire wear, fuel mileage and even some physics, just from spending a Sunday watching a race. It can possibly make them a more aware and responsible driver by the time they turn 16.
And while it’s unlikely your teen is going to be the next great NASCAR driver, there are many other career paths through the sport, such as engineering, mechanics and broadcasting that could pique your teen’s interest and lead them down a great career path.
Like any professional sport, sometimes tempers flare in the heat of completion. However, in NASCAR, there is never a lack of respect among not just the drivers for one another, but to the crew chief all the way down to the pit crew. While only one driver wins each race, most when interviewed always talk about what they learned from that race. And they always show their respect for the winner.
Regrettably, there was an incident recently that challenged the entire culture of NASCAR. A noose was found in Bubba Wallace’s garage before the June 22 race at Talladega. What happened after that, however, was the best of NASCAR. The next day all of the drivers came together and pushed his car to the front of the pack during the pre-race. They showed their support for who is he and made it clear he was absolutely, 100% welcome in their sport. It created a sign of togetherness and acceptance, and was well covered by the national media.
Fun and bonding with a parent
As I mentioned before, sports were an escape for me as a kid. NASCAR was no exception. I still remember watching amazing races with my stepfather growing up. It helped us bond and created many lasting memories
NASCAR continues its fun outside of Sundays (and Wednesdays). There are, of course, video games, but also die-cast and matchbox cars that let kids feel like they’re apart of the sport.
Overall, I believe that NASCAR is a fun sport that allows your kid to learn new skills and gain new experiences all from the safety of their living room. Give NASCAR a try. I’m very glad I did.
A socially-distanced summer has left plenty of time for mindless activities on electronic devices. I used the time to re-watch “New Girl” on Netflix, and I just started watching “Avatar: The Last Airbender” at the recommendation of the Internet.
I also downloaded TikTok to see what all the fuss was about. Long story short: I like it a lot. However, this Chinese-owned social media app has taken a lot of heat lately.
India just banned 59 Chinese apps last week, including TikTok, due to security concerns related to geopolitics. You may know that recently Chinese and Indian militaries clashed at the border, leaving 20 Indian soldiers dead.
On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. is considering banning TikTok as well as some other Chinese social media apps. This is designed to protect against threats to national security. The fear is that apps are mining data and Tik Tok might be pressured to give it to the Chinese government.
AA TikTok representative responded saying, “TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the U.S. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”
Why the fear? Why now?
U.S. lawmakers questioning TikTok’s safety is nothing new. The government opened a national security investigation into the app in November 2019.
This Hong Kong law was created to crack down on those protesting in opposition to Beijing. The law leaves room for lots of questions, like if Hong Kong will now fall under Beijing’s jurisdiction.
What does this all mean for users (i.e., your kid)?
We don’t know the answer to that yet.
TikTok certainly has taken over the world, and I wouldn’t want to be the one to break the news of the ban to the 65 million U.S. monthly app users. I would also miss my daily art and animal videos.
The biggest advice I can give to parents is to do your research.
Know the apps your kids are interacting with and inform them and yourself on the possible ways apps store and/or use your data. Read the different options each app has for privacy and take action. Turn some of the privacy features on.
I would also recommend ConnectSafely.org It provides a great guide for parents on navigating TikTok and keeping kids safe.
The Electronic Software Association considers video games a stress reliever for all ages, though some are still skeptical. Many who are not immersed in the gaming world only hear about the violent, shoot-‘em-up type of games. But recent years new games and new game character type have emerged. And studies are showing that these innovative games can be a new way to treat mental disorders. In fact, later in this article I’ll introduce the first game to be approved by the FDA to help with ADAD. Fur first, let’s talk about the new character types that are representing real life, including mental health issues, in a new way.
New Mental Health Characters
It’s true that previous games depicted characters with mental illness as either comedy or horror types (see Outlast or Borderlands). However, the gaming industry has moved past this way of thinking. Allow me to introduce you to Celeste. On the surface, Celeste is a platform-type game. In this game you have to overcome a series of challenging obstacles by jumping and climbing (think Super Mario Brothers). However, in this story there is a young woman named Madeline.
Madeline has an anxiety disorder. Throughout the game, you see her character experience panic attacks. When this happens, the music becomes sinister and the environment gets darker. She also starts to breath heavy and begin to shake. Although this is a 2D animated character, and very much a game, this is an experience many people have had in real life, including myself.
Having a character such as this has given me the sense that others might be able to feel or know what I have experienced. That representation is important for anyone, but I think it’s especially important for kids growing up. I grew up with and still have depression and mild anxiety. Certain things can trigger panic attacks for me, in addition to the depressive episodes I have where it feels like the weight of the ocean is on my body. Seeing a character in this game who is overcoming a mental barrier just as much as a physical one is very rewarding and comforting to me.
Seeing Someone Like Me
One outcome of this is I think it helped me understand that I needed to be the one to make the changes in my life if I wanted to feel better. I think these games can help children and teenagers figure out things about themselves. Maybe it’s easier to see what you are going through once you project your problems onto a character you are playing. But, fortunately, the game is also still fun to play!
Other games are also depicting real life mental health issues. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice puts you in the shoes of a woman who has a psychosis. Sea of Solitude looks at depression in a metaphorical way as inside a woman’s mind. Arise: A Simple Story is about a man dealing with grief and depression. Auti-Sim places you in the shoes of someone with autism. Each of these games is a way for players, both with and without mental illness, to understand a bit more about others and themselves.
Video Games are Helping with Mental Issues
Recently, games have been built specifically to treat people with mental health problems. For example, EndeavorRX, is the first FDA approved video game that is targeted toward children eight to 12 with ADHD. Studies show that one in three patients who play the game for 25 minutes a day for a week can reduce their attention deficit problems for up to a month (compared to those who did not play). Note, the developers and the doctors who helped with testing both say the game is a supplement to therapy and other medications, not a replacement. But it is widely encouraging that we’ve come this far. You can sign-up for their newsletter to find out when the game will be available at https://www.akiliinteractive.com/get-endeavor
I wanted to write about this topic for parents who may have children with mental illnesses because it is hard to truly understand what someone is going through when they say they have depression or anxiety. Games like these can help everyone understand what your child is going through, or even help treat their symptoms.
Games for Change
If you want to learn more about games like these, I suggest visiting Games for Change. Games for Change is a non-profit that helps bring attention to games like these I’ve mentioned. It also helps produce them by working with developers.
You can also take a look at The Insight Project, a collaboration between Hellblade developer Ninja Theory and Professor Paul Fletcher of the University of Cambridge. The Insight Project’s goal is to create gaming media that helps alleviate mental distress.
I know many parents are worried about the negative effects of gaming on their kids. But it’s important to recognize that not all games are created equal. Do the research, set some boundaries, and I’m sure you’ll find that gaming can become a healthy part of your kid’s lives.
Now that America is beginning to open back up, I find myself feeling upset about everything I missed out on because of the pandemic and anxious about the future.
Unfortunately, I’m not the only one feeling this way. The outbreak of the Coronavirus has created a lot of anxiety in not only adults but children and teenagers as well.
This can be a confusing and stressful time, especially for children and teenagers.
All of the stress and memories of the things they are missing out on can cause them to feel depressed or more aggravated than they usually are.
As a parent of a child or teenager, you’ve probably experienced some of the backlashes from your kids these emotions are creating. When children are angry or upset, many times they express that anger by yelling, being rude or acting out physically by slamming doors.
According to clinical psychologist Sherry Kelly, many teenagers who are usually mild-mannered are acting out because they are feeling unusually trapped with no control over their lives anymore.
While nobody can change what is currently happening with the pandemic, there are ways to help your kids process and control their emotions during this time.
Four Strategies for Coping During These Times
One way, according to Kelly, is to encourage them to focus on the things they can control, rather than the things they can’t control. She recommends helping kids come up with two lists; one of the things they have control over and one for the things they don’t. You can then help your kids focus on the things on one list, and avoid thoughts about the other.
Many kids are feeling especially isolated from their friends and other family members they may not live with. I know I personally have felt very lonely during the stay at home order and quarantine. It’s not a surprise that kids are feeling this way. To keep your children engaged with their family and friends, encourage them to Skype or play online games with them as a way to connect.
Keeping an everyday routine for your kids is another way to help prevent negative emotions associated with the pandemic. By creating a new routine for your kids, it will help them feel less anxious about all of the uncertainty they may be experiencing.
Make sure you also acknowledge your children’s feelings. Encourage them to talk about their feelings and to express any of their worries they may have. Children are likely to feel secure during times like this if they know their parent has acknowledged their feelings and is there to support them.
We know you’re going through a tough time, parents. Hang in there. And remember what Dr. Lauber always says, “Parenting is the toughest job you’ll ever love!”
COVID-19 pressed the pause button on sports at all levels. The professional leagues were interrupted, college athletes were told to go home and youth, your kids, were forced to forgo their spring and summer sports seasons.
However, even as the sports world stands still, discs are still flying and chains are still slapping against poles all across America. I’m referring to recreational disc golf, of course.
What is Disc Golf?
Disc golf, standardized in the 1970s, is played like regular golf. However, you don’t hit a ball. You throw a disc, much like your regular frisbee disc, into an elevated chain net that catches it. The goal is to get the lowest possible score (least number of throws) through nine holes or 18 holes.
Like regular golf, there are various “clubs” (discs) that fly in different patterns and different speeds. Therefore, you select your disc for each shot. Disc golf is both an incredibly simple game and easy to start, but also a very complex game as your skill level grows.
Perhaps the most compelling thing about disc golf, especially for teens, is that it is usually free-to-play, as courses are normally built and maintained at public township, county or state parks.
I first started playing the sport when I was 15, right after some of my high school teachers created a course at our neighborhood park.
Since then, I have played dozens of courses, hit hundreds of trees and improved immensely at the game. I’ve also made great memories and enjoyed a lot of “hanging with my friends” time.
I think the best part of the game for me has been the places it’s taken me. From the hills in Western Pennsylvania to a small river-town along the Susquehanna River, all the way to an abandoned military base in Maryland – disc golf has shown me beautiful landscapes that I wouldn’t have otherwise come across.
Why Should Your Kid and/or You Try It?
No, I’m not a parent, but I have teen siblings and cousins. And it seems now, more than ever, that it’s harder to keep kids outside a long time. Disc golf is a sport that turns hiking through a park into a total adventure.
I’ve seen it played by people well into their sixties, so I know you can get out there and do it. It provides a solid upper and lower body workout if you want it to. It also tests your aerobics and concentration when you’re attempting difficult shots.
In addition to getting your kid doing something productive outside, like I said, disc golf is usually free-to-play. And the discs, unlike real golf clubs, are actually pretty affordable – generally ranging from $5-30.
My personal favorite disc golf brand is Dynamic Discs. You can usually get a great starter pack for less than $25 on Amazon.
Future Outlook of Disc Golf:
Disc golf could become more popular than regular golf by 2028, says an article written by Joshua Woods, an Associate Professor of Sociology at West Virginian University and founder of “Parked Disc Golf.”
With traditional golf courses declining every year and more disc golf courses continuing to be installed, it might not be too long before disc golf is the new norm. Imagine your kid’s future company having a disc golf outing instead of the traditional golf outing.
Things to Do Before You Go:
I would recommend watching a few YouTube Videos before your first game. While disc golf is a really easy concept to grasp, having a veteran player to learn from is never a bad thing. There are a few basic terms and ways to throw the discs you may want to learn before you go. It will save your time and frustration in the long run. I think most of the basics can be learned in a short YouTube clip. A video that helped me when I was just beginning was this one.
Second, you may want to download the “UDisc Disc Golf” App. This handy app, created by the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA), is a go-to tool for any disc golfer. In addition to acting as a scorecard, the app shows you just about every disc golf course nationwide. You can also add layouts to help first-time players navigate the course, and leave reviews and ratings of courses.
I want you to remember to have fun out there. While the game is easier than regular golf to pick up, like any sport, there is a learning curve. Try not to get too frustrated in the time it takes to understand your discs. Also, take in your surroundings and enjoy the time you are going to spend with your kids. Like Dr. Lauber always says, “Parenting is the hardest job you will ever love!”