Monday 31 August 2015

8 Great Reasons Online Dating is Worth a Shot"Online dating is a good resource to meet individuals for eventual face-to-face dating. However if you are weary of that first big date then just meet for a coffee, go for the  more casual approach.

The biggest piece of advice that I would give to  anyone male or female in this first date  situation is: Don't go into the date with that check list under your arm, yes you have your vision of the ideal mate, but you are surrounding yourself with too much pressure. Go into the date with the thought that you will be meeting a new friend, that way its a win win situation".                                                                                     
- Susan Watts

8 Great Reasons Online Dating is Worth a Shot

Hesitant to give online dating a try? Still think it’s a trashy trend? Here are 8 reasons that just might change your mind about finding love online.

With the advent of the internet, there arose an enormous amount of opportunity for romance, love, friendship, and excitement – all in the past decade alone. It is now much easier to meet potential partners in life, without even having to come face to face with them. Most of the time, because of the greater chances of anonymity, people tend to be more open about themselves and what they want in a relationship, compared to when they are talking in person.

Shy people, especially girls, tend to do a lot more of their socializing through blogging. This is mostly because they find it much easier than talking to people directly about who they are, how they are feeling, or what they’re thinking.

Tentative guys who are nervous about saying hello to their crushes get more self-confident knowing that they have a far better chance at saying how they feel through IM, Viber, Snapchat, Facebook, or any of the numerous social media sites out there.

Thinking about all these possibilities makes you think “What harm would there be in trying out online dating? It must be as easy as pressing a couple of buttons!”

Indeed it is!

When you come to think about it, online dating apps nowadays – like Tinder – only need a swipe of the phone screen! How convenient and hassle-free is that?

Why you should try to date online

Although it is increasingly becoming the norm in single ladies and gentlemen in their twenties, some of us still get apprehensive about the thought of meeting strangers online. So here are eight good reasons to at least give online dating a fair shot.

#1 Fun. For all of you fun-loving people of all ages, what more fitting reason is there to try meeting people online but for the sheer fun of it? You could be meeting people who could actually give you a run for your money when it comes to having a great time!

A majority of the folks who have a huge presence online are the easygoing ones. If you are one of them, or are thinking of joining them, then there are hundreds of groups, communities, and clubs online that cater to people looking for a fun environment.

For the ones who are more comfortable with smaller groups of people, there are also a lot of more exclusive sites all over the internet who welcome people with a certain type. There are dog lovers dating sites, cat people online dating, or even the much rowdier LGBT community sites. There are tons of fun things online that would make you consider dating over the internet!

#2 A new experience. For the more subdued people who are more discerning when it comes to meeting other people, there is always room for some new experiences! Wouldn’t it be a great way to try new things? How many times in your life can you say “I’ve tried online dating?” Just the fact that it is something new to try out or that it’s another challenge to overcome adds to its excitement!

Also, new experiences allow you to compare and contrast between things you’ve already experienced. Who knows, you might find some of the perks of online dating to be a lot more fun or convenient than finding dates in actual locations.

#3 Bucket list. Who doesn’t have one of these, right? Of course, online dating has to be on each of our bucket lists – especially the younger generations! Crossing out one of the many things in life that are exciting, yet only cost almost nothing, would be a great motivation when trying out dating sites online.

Right alongside bucket list entries like “swim with sharks” or “kiss a hot stranger in the rain,” online dating is a great entry to cross out of our bucket lists!

#4 Better options. Not only does online dating offer a bigger chance at anonymity, at least at first, but it also gives you a lot more freedom to choose who you actually like. No need to be super nice and be awkward in blind dates, when you actually don’t even want to talk to a person, but are just too nice to say so. In internet dating, you can be as blunt, as direct, and as picky as you want!

#5 Compatibility. On paid online dating websites, they have algorithms in place that figure out who on their website is the most compatible person for you. They take into account your own likes, dislikes, and preferences from the way you answer their specific questions.

There are also free websites out there who offer people a chance to meet like-minded individuals who are into similar hobbies. If you love movies, you can meet someone whom you can debate movie plots with! If you are into romantic poetry, you’d be amazed to discover that there are guys who may also be as into Shakespeare and Neruda as you!

#6 Excitement. All of the reasons in here are exciting. There is just no better way of putting it. The purpose of a well-lived life is to be able to try as many exciting things as you can fit in a single lifetime! There’s always going to be a dash of excitement in finally meeting up with someone you’re hitting it off with online. Of course, there are also creeps out there, but just keep your sharp wits about you, and the obvious dangers will become clear to you.

#7 Get laid. I don’t mean to be indelicate about it, but many guys do consider this as not only a very valid reason to try online dating, but the main reason as well. It doesn’t mean that we, girls, don’t have the exact same right! We need some men in our lives to give us some good lovin’! Wouldn’t you agree?

There are dating applications that you can install on your phone, which means you can bring dating with you all the time, as long as you have a decent internet connection that can make romance and sex be available at the touch of a finger *pardon the pun*.

Some online dating sites, if not most, provide just this exact service, and who could blame them when we, as a society, have now increasingly received sex as a very normal and even crucial part of adult life?

This is usually the main reason for guys and gals who are more open to sex, when it comes to dating. It just makes it a lot easier to find compatible people on the internet who are more open to physical relations, as well as emotional connections. So don’t be intimidated by people who are only after sex, there are a lot of them online, just be clear about your own intentions, so that they know not to bother you when you are not into it.

#8 Meet your soul mate. Although not all of us believe or admit that we believe in soul mates, this is arguably the main reason for many women to give online dating a shot. We are all a little bit mushy and romantic at heart, so even the slightest possibility of a happily-ever-after online may get us thinking, “What if?”

Indeed, what if our one true love is just out there looking for a convenient way to reach us? What if there wouldn’t be any other way for us to meet them if they were halfway around the globe? What if our soul mate is simply more confident with approaching us online than in person?

This makes everyone wonder, so it is one of the perfect reasons to start online dating. There are a lot of successful love stories out there that started online. It may be one in a million, but wouldn’t it be nice to be that special one?

Much like everything else in life, there are both pros and cons with dating online. It is good to open yourself to the possibility of love, friendship, or intimacy through the use of the internet. Be open, but be extremely vigilant. Be vigilant, but also hopeful. You never know, your soul mate may just be out there reading this exact same article!

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Sunday 30 August 2015

11 Things Guys Secretly Do With Their Penises"To all you guys out there....I found this hilarious especially after the man in my life told me that he had been known to use his as a make believe gear shift !!  Dare I ask if anybody can beat this"?
- Susan Watts

11 Things Guys Secretly Do With Their Penises

We basically treat it like a Bop-It.

A man having a penis is like if you grafted a feather wand onto a cat's pelvis. We walk around all day, fascinated and playing with it absentmindedly. Here are all the things guys secretly try with their penises.

1. Bend it TO ITS EXTREME POINT. A flaccid penis is basically like having a slinky in your pants.

2. Stretch it. We have pulled it until it hurt just to see how far it can go. It's not like we decide it's time to do penis stretches whenever we're alone, but we've attempted this once.

3. Flick it. It's pretty funny to flick an erection. Alternatively, bend it back to our stomachs and let it spring forward.

4. Try and fit it in things. If you have a penis you're going to see what it does (or more importantly, doesn't) fit into. Paper towel rolls, wide-mouth Snapple bottles, etc. The less it can fit into, the better you feel.

5. Make a hotdog with our balls. You can wrap your balls onto either side of your penis and it basically forms a genital hotdog. This is funny.

6. Measure it. It is impossible to have a penis without taking a tape measurer to it. We need to know the number.

7. Just hold it, ever so gently. All the time. Just walking around the house doing chores and holding our penis. Holding our penis while driving (not illegal). Pretty much anything we can do with one hand, we'll use the other hand to hold our penis.

8. Tuck it behind our legs. Hahaha, hey! Now we're a lady!

9. Try and put it in our butt. JUST TO SEE IF WE CAN! WE DON'T, LIKE, ACTUALLY WANT TO DO IT, OK?

10. Look into it. Do I have to go into more detail here?

11. Move it without using our hands. With a lot of focus and a raging erection, we can make it dance around. It's surprisingly exhausting though.

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How Do You Avoid Getting Too Attached Too Quickly?

Moving Too Fast

Moving Too Fast

How Do You Avoid Getting Too Attached Too Quickly?
Are you constantly looking at their Facebook page to gauge some idea of what they might be up to, who they are with, what they are doing? Do you find yourself angry when they don’t respond immediately to your messages?

It’s funny how the term “bunny boiler” has made its way into popular vernacular given that its origin was the 1987 film Fatal Attraction. In the film, Glenn Close's character was spurned by her one-night stand (with Michael Douglas) resulting in her stalking and literally boiling the family bunny. Now, the term tends to be used by anyone referring to someone who is obsessed with someone else who is not returning that attention. And don't be mistaken: there are plenty of men out there who could be referred to as 'bunny boilers'. Don’t be one of them.

How To Avoid Getting Too Attached Too Quickly

Get To Know Someone Before Having Sex

Instead of having blinders on, it’s essential to take the time to get to know the other person before becoming too emotionally or physically involved with them. Sex is a physical expression of intimacy and love, but sex is not love. Physical attraction is extremely powerful so sexual urges can be difficult to resist in a social environment that says “go for it”. But if you are truly interested in establishing a real and lasting relationship, you won’t want to go directly to the bedroom and then wake up weeks later, realising that you have nothing in common apart from physical attraction which is now beginning to wear off. 

Additionally, often the behaviour or features of someone that initially really attracted you can be the same ones that cause you to break up further down the road. For example someone who is very spontaneous and exciting when you meet them can be fun, and then later on really annoying. 

Remind Yourself Of Your Life Without Them

But think too about your own behaviours after you meet someone you really like. Are you waiting constantly for an email or a text to just have the tiniest inkling that they might be thinking of you? Are you constantly looking at their Facebook page to gauge some idea of what they might be up to, who they are with, what they are doing? Do you find yourself angry when they don’t respond immediately to your messages, or you don’t hear from them for 24 or 48 hours? Being needy can be fatal to building a relationship whose foundation must be made in trust. 

The best sanity check is to remind yourself that a week or two weeks or a month ago, you did not even know this person existed. Now that they have been introduced to your life, has your day-to-day existence suddenly gone on hold? Give yourself a talking to and crack on with what you normally do day to day. Enjoy their company but don’t base your life and existence on their presence and acknowledgement. 

How To Avoid Someone Getting Too Attached Too Quickly

Establish Boundaries

What about if you are on the receiving end of this type of obsessive attraction? You’ve met someone and they seem slightly too into you. The texts and emails are just a tad too frequent and needy, requiring you to respond constantly to the point of it becoming annoying? It may be time to take stock and have an open and frank conversation with them the next time you meet to establish boundaries around communication. This is territory where mistrust, jealousy and irrational behaviour can begin to fester into obsessive behaviour. 

In most cases where the attraction feels irresistible, the main thing to keep in mind is that these relationships aren't likely to last no matter how attractive your potential partner might be. The reality of obsessive attraction is more based on an idea of the other person than really knowing who they are and how you fit together. And it's best not to invest time and emotional energy into a relationship that won't last. If there’s any sign of a bunny boiler, put the flame out now and take the pot off the stove. It’s just not worth it.

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Saturday 29 August 2015

It’s A Sickness: 5 Reasons Why Jealousy Is Like Swallowing Poison

It’s A Sickness: 5 Reasons Why Jealousy Is Like Swallowing Poison

Have you ever felt the wrath of jealousy? That feeling in the pit of your stomach that won’t quit?

Perhaps, you’ve read too deep into your partner’s actions or just don’t like that one particular girl/guy hanging around your loved one. One thing for sure is that jealousy is like swallowing your “enemy’s” poison.

There’s not much worse in a relationship than good old jealousy.

It sparks arguments and mistrust. It makes you think twice about everyone’s actions and behavior. Sure, sometimes jealousy is your gut’s red flag, saying, “Something just isn’t right here.”

But most of the time, it’s poison. Here are the top reasons why jealousy sucks:

1. Jealousy looks bad on you.

There is nothing more unattractive than someone walking into a room and shooting dirty looks at you because he or she feels jealous. It brings tension to the air, and it just looks trashy.

Having self-respect, self-esteem and holding yourself with poise is way classier and more attractive.

Don’t let anyone drag you into the gutter. You are more than that.

2. Jealousy gives the enemy power.

Being angry about a woman/man your loved one has to interact with just adds anxiety and frustration to a relationship.

And the funny thing about it is it can backfire.

If your partner is constantly stressed out about a jealous significant other, he or she may have that strange urge to talk about it. And who knows who the person your partner will choose to confide in may be…

3. Jealousy makes sure you’re the one suffering.

Being jealous feels pretty sh*tty. You, alone, stuck with the same troubling and hurtful thoughts. No one can feel those emotions but you.

And the truth is, no one has to change their behavior for you either. You can’t control people’s actions.

At the end of the day, you’re the one who has to change.

4. Jealousy allows your fears to manifest.

There is such a thing as thinking something will happen and then it happens.

Part of the reason is because you expect it to happen, so you act according to those thoughts as though they were the truth.

Expecting someone to cheat doesn’t mean you are responsible for their cheating, but it doesn’t help them wanting to stay with you if you don’t trust them.

5. Jealousy makes your partner feel trapped.

Having a partner who questions your every move is unhealthy and miserable. Slowly, it makes your significant other want to pack his or her bags and run for the hills.

Who wants a helicopter flying overhead all day? Who wants to be stressed about how everything will “look?” Who wants to feel so stuck that they end up questioning their own motives?

Unfortunately, I’ve been on all ends of this spectrum. I’ve been jealous; I’ve had the overwhelmingly jealous partner, and I’ve had dirty looks from other women.

I’ve come full circle. And I have to say I choose to stay out of that circle as much as possible.

At the end of the day, you have to make a choice: Do you want to live life feeling afraid, angry and not trusting your partner? Or do you want to move on, be happy and feel secure?

If you are truly jealous, think long and hard about what’s triggering it. If there is something not right going on with your partner, then it comes down to a choice you have to make.

Either talk it out in a way that doesn’t make your partner defensive, hurt or angry, or leave that partner because the trust just isn’t there.

There are other alternatives to jealousy. You can turn that wasted energy from negative to positive and transfer it to something else. Think about how lucky you are to have a guy/girl someone else might wish they had.

Friday 28 August 2015

The Right Way to Tell Your Partner You're Into Kinky Sex

The Right Way to Tell Your Partner You're Into Kinky Sex

There's a fine art to introducing your new sex partner to your kinks. Showing up with an armful of paddles and chains without a word is more than likely to freak them (or anyone) the fuck out. "You should think of it like easing into a cold pool," recommends sex expert Dr. Ian Kerner. Take it slow; no need to make them feel like they're in the middle of a Rihanna video the first time you start experimenting.

Keep in mind, though, no one should be put in a situation where they're not enjoying themselves. "To do things in the bedroom that one doesn't want to do, that's a formula for resentment and a deterioration of your sex life," says Dr. William Picker, a sex therapist with a BDSM subspecialty. If your partner's not into it after following this handy guide, don't push it. They might just not be the right sex partner for you.

1. Figure out what your kinks even are. Understanding not just what turns you on, but how and why it turns you on, can get your partner excited about trying something they're not used to. Plus you're going to need to be able to explain that stuff to your partner when you're blindfolded with your hands tied to the headboard. You can even write up a script to practice. "Any good sex life involves communication between the partners in terms of how one thinks about it and how they actually enjoy it," says Picker.

2. Start with hypotheticals. Start off slow and make it sexy and enticing for your partner. "You're expressing the 'deep end' when you discuss the fantasy," says Kerner, "instead of the 'shallow end.'" Kerner recommends presenting your kink as a dream you had in which you and your partner were acting on these desires, and see how he or she responds. It takes a bit of the pressure off, and talking about the fantasy in a hypothetical way removes any judgment from the discussion.

3. Use pop-culture references. If you want to get all BDSM-lite on your partner, start leaving Fifty Shades of Grey around the bedroom, and reference it in your convo, suggests Dr. Jane Greer, New York-based marriage and sex therapist and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship. Kerner recommends seeking out porn that explores your particular kink to watch together. Having a book or movie bring up the topic for you can be an easier way to gauge your partners reaction. If they say, "I would never do that, I think it's awful and embarrassing," you can easily be like, "Haha me neither and also we're breaking up. Bye!" No harm done.

4. Sneak little bits of kink into regular sex. Kerner and Greer both recommend demonstrating some of the lighter aspects of your kink to your partner during a regular sex romp — but that doesn't mean handcuffing them without warning, or busting out some hot wax. "Arousal has a way of naturally lowering your inhibitions and it releases a chemical cocktail that loosens you up," explains Kerner. Some light spanking or dirty talk (probably) won't kill your partner's sex drive on the spot, even if they're a little confused right away. Just don't get carried away.

5. Give your partner something to do. Giving your partner instructions and telling them why you love seeing them do it can be extra encouraging. "When a man tells his girlfriend he wants to have a threesome, she might think, 'Oh, he just wants to get in bed with another woman.' The reality of it may be that he finds it stimulating to see her pleasured," says Kerner. Even if you think he finds your fantasy daunting, making it about him can be empowering and make him more receptive.

6. Show them how much you love it. "During really good sex, the idea of the giver or receiver loses meaning," says Picker. "The act of doing and experiencing one's partner's pleasures is, by absolute definition, pleasure as well." Even your partner can't get into your kink, they might still get off on knowing you're getting off. When you're introducing them to it for the first time, be vocal and show them how hot it makes you.

7. Be open to new stuff. Just because you're into serious punishment and your partner isn't, doesn't necessarily mean your sex life is doomed. Instead, try to find a similar kink that you're both into. "I think everyone has experiences with pain as potentially pleasurable," says Picker. "Pain of being bit by a mosquito only to have the pleasure of scratching. Delay of orgasm can be a version of punishment. Even vanilla people can participate in a little bit of teasing, which is a kind of pain." You might not be able to get your partner to hogtie you and spank you, but if you can both get off on a little blindfolded role play, you're in good shape.

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Quickies, Tantra & Kink: The Different Kinds of Sex Every Couple Needs

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Thursday 27 August 2015

4 Fun Ways to Style Your Pubic Hair

4 Fun Ways to Style Your Pubic Hair

Because why not?

When it comes to your pubic hair, gone are the days of the traditional bikini line wax or even the full Brazilian. “The trend now is ‘anything goes,’” says Alley Laundry, a waxing expert at Parissa Laboratories, who has been waxing for, as she puts it, “a million years” and has seen every trend and strange request you can think of (like the woman who wanted to shape her pubes into a dinosaur

“Over the decades, there was the 1970s disco bush, then very tailored in the ‘80s and ‘90s, which then escalated into the Brazilian of the ‘00s,” says Laundry. “Now, there’s much more acceptance for whatever style you want.” So embrace that sea change with some of the fun ideas below (and a word to the wise—for most of these, you’re going to want to visit a pro for best results!). 

Make Like the French 

Yep, even their pubic hair is chic. “A French-style wax mimics the French bikini, with the bottoms that ride high on the hips with a narrow crotch,” says Laundry. “The style gives you a very thin line.” It’s a little wider than a landing strip (a small patch of hair that usually starts at your natural hairline and ends just above your clitoris), but without any worries about hair sticking out of your suit since the majority of your fuzz will be removed (one thing to note: a French bikini wax doesn't include removal of hair around your butt). Oui oui. 

Customize with the New Brazilians 

“Women use so many different terms now that I have to clarify with each one before I start waxing,” says Laundry. “They’ll ask for a half Brazilian, full Brazilian, the mohawk, the Bermuda triangle, and I have to understand exactly what they’re expecting.” The labels have become meaningless at this point, so feel free to customize precisely what you want. Full waxing of the “undercarriage” area, along your anus and bottom of your labia, while leaving a little tuft on top? Not a single hair in sight? Go for it. Or try the “full-bush Brazilian,” which clears out any hair your partner would have to tussle with during oral sex (just leaving the top of your labial hair intact). 

Try a Shape 

Aside from the aforementioned dinosaur, Laundry creates all kinds of pubic pictures. Her advice, though, is to keep it extremely simple. “It's not exactly a giant canvas,” she says. “The design has to be cute and small.” She has created arrows, lightning bolts, and martini glass shapes for her customers. 

Another potentially simple shape is a letter of the alphabet, so it might be fun to monogram yourself—or mark your lady parts with your partner’s initials for an anniversary or birthday. “Some are harder than others,” says Laundry, who once had a difficult time trying to make “DZ” happen—too many angles. 

Dye Your Bush a New Color 

There are several kits that help you color your pubes at home, like the Betty Beauty products, which feature auburn, blonde, black, brown, and even, yes, hot pink. Of course, salons can also help you get the down-there effect you want. Laundry has seen many a wedding special when it comes to colors. “I’ve worked with several brides who waxed off everything except a heart shape on their mound, which they then bleached and dyed pink.” Something borrowed, something pink, something waxed, something bleached...

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What Guys Really Think About Your Pubic Hair

A new study surveyed men on down-there 'dos

We seriously doubt any guy would retreat if he came to find you had the “wrong” downstairs hairstyle, but a new study from the Journal of Sexual Medicine shows that most men prefer hair-free lady parts.

For the study, researchers asked 1,110 college-aged men and women how they maintained their pubic hair, the reasons behind their styles, and how they preferred their sexual partners groom down below.

It turns out, the vast majority of both men and women keep things tidy down there: Ninety-five percent of the study participants had trimmed or removed at least some of their pubic hair in the past four weeks. Meanwhile, half of women and one in five men said they typically went hair-free. Both men and women were more likely to groom if they expected to receive oral sex soon.

Of the bushy minority (the five percent who didn’t groom), the overwhelming majority was guys. Most of the men surveyed said that, in the past four weeks, they had either trimmed a bit or just let their hair go wild.

Funny—since 60 percent of the men surveyed preferred their partners to be hair-free. The remaining guys said they liked their partner to have some down-there hair, were up for several styles, or flat-out said it didn’t matter to them. (For the record, women were pretty much split four ways between preferring dudes hair-free, partially shaved/waxed, trimmed but without any actual hair removal, and not caring one way or another.) 

“These results suggest pubic hair removal patterns and preferences are related to gender norms and reflect how the beauty ideal can vary by gender,” says lead study author Scott M. Butler, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant director of the School of Health and Human Performance at Georgia College.

Hence why, if you are going to de-hair your nether region, the best reason to do so is because it's your preference, says Butler, who notes that some women said they waxed because it made them feel clean and made sex more comfortable. And on the flip side, if you squirm at the thought of having an aesthetician between your legs or don't feel like breaking out a razor on the regular, that’s totally cool, too.

Wednesday 26 August 2015

How to Talk to Your Kids About Sex, Death and Everything in Between

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How to Talk to Your Kids About Sex, Death and Everything in Between

While some topics are hard to discuss and might make you uncomfortable, that doesn’t mean your children need to be sheltered.

I lie to my kid constantly. I tell her the store is closed in the middle of the day, when I don’t want to go. I will say, “I have no idea where that chocolate cookie went,” when I know exactly where it went — in my mouth. I’ve even been known to suggest that there are magic green beans, and if she eats enough of them, she might grow into a giant with fairy wings.

Knowledge is empowerment. Even though some topics are hard to discuss and might make you uncomfortable, that doesn’t mean your children need to be sheltered. When kids express curiosity in a subject, there is a way to talk about these issues in an appropriate and upfront way, yet not crush their innocence in the process. 

When my 3-year-old asked me how babies are made, I told her. I didn’t go into graphic detail, but I answered her questions honestly. After hearing the information she took a minute then asked, “So you know Sally that goes to my school? So her dad put his penis in her mom’s vagina? Then sperm came out, and got all scrambled with her mom’s eggs, and Sally lived in her mom’s tummy until she was born from her vagina? That’s happened with all my friends?” 

Did I consider that maybe my daughter would tell little Sally about her dad putting his penis in her mom’s vagina? Not until that moment. Sally’s mom and dad might have frowned upon me, but guess what? It didn't happen, so I can still go to PTA meetings with my head held high. 

Same-sex marriage was a 30-second conversation that went like this. “So boys can marry boys and girls can marry girls? That means some kids get to have TWO MOMMIES!? They are so lucky!” Now all her My Little Ponies are gay-married.

Death is a huge part of life, and if we hide it from our kids, we set them up for a major existential crisis. The more you fear death, the more tortured you will be by the inevitable fate of us all. I live on a farm, so we have a lot of firsthand familiarity. First off, I have a cat who is most likely part of a cult. She brings us mice after ceremoniously eviscerating them, and then strews their body parts across the house creating a variety of mandalas. This has ignited many talks about the circle of life, and how all creatures eventually die; that death is nothing to fear, but a reminder to appreciate life. My now 5-year-old will peacefully play next to a mouse head, and wait patiently for me to find rubber gloves to cart away the carcass.

Every year we house baby turkeys who eventually become Thanksgiving dinner. After a few years of holding the tiny birds, my daughter decided she didn't want to eat turkey anymore. She is making her own informed decisions about consumption through her actual experiences. I am not enforcing any value system, but rather exposing her to the reality, and she is free to make her own choices. 

We have talked at length about drugs and addiction, because I think any parent who doesn’t exclusively feed their child bark, deals with the obsession with sugar. What does it mean to crave sugar? Why does she always want ice cream when she is bored? What is it she is trying to fill with that kind of stimulus? We have conscious conversations about these issues, because many of us spend our grownup lives looking for outside substances to fill the void. How do we find balance between enjoyment and excess? Sugar is the first drug kids experiment with, and for most of them, it won’t be the last. The earlier we start asking these questions, the sooner we can dissect and understand our own motivations. I’m not saying she can never indulge, but it’s important to have awareness of what’s driving that desire.

My daughter and I talk about politics, police brutality, racism, global warming, the extinction of animals, and more. She is forming her own opinions of the world through my disclosures of reality. She believes humans who hunt endangered animals should go to jail, Wall Street should be less greedy and learn to share, and policemen need to remember their job is to protect people and not hurt them. Her solution for discrimination is to remember that we are all one family of people, and she is perplexed by sexism — although she is kind of sexist herself because she believes boys are yucky. The most socially aware and active adults are the ones wh o are knowledgeable and have a clear understanding of their worldview. Why not start when they’re young? You’d be surprised by how wise your kid is. Like mine, who has unequivocally concluded that sex is just plain silly.

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Tuesday 25 August 2015

Is Your Smartphone Ageing Your Face Prematurely?

Is Your Smartphone Ageing Your Face Prematurely? 5 Maladies of the Digital Era

"Text neck" is for real.

Face it, we’re all addicted to our electronic devices. You might know a few lonely holdouts, determined to stay detached and live off the grid, but their numbers are diminishing. Most of us are living in an ever more wired world, dependent on instantaneous communication and information, and at a panicky loss when we can’t find our smartphones.

No one wants to hear it, but we’re paying a steep price for this behavior. Our tech habits are laying ruin to our physical and mental health and abilities. Being aware of the possible pitfalls is your first line of defense against premature aging, aches and diminished brain capacity. That and unplugging more often. Here are five digital maladies you should be aware of.

You see them everywhere. Teenagers, middle-aged commuters, grocery shoppers of all ages, hunched over small objects they gaze at like little miracles, their necks jutting forward and down at an oddly excruciating angle. And they just stay there, seemingly frozen, unaware.

These are the legions of people giving themselves “text neck,” a thoroughly modern condition that can lay ruin to one's neck and spine. People are hunched over smartphones, engrossed in text conversations, checking Facebook, returning emails, Instagramming photos, unaware that they are putting immense strain on their necks and spines that will plague them for a lifetime.

The head is heavy under the best of circumstances, a weighty 12-pound object to support. Your neck and spine work tirelessly to hold it up it and are well set up to do so. Or they were, until smartphones came along and gave everyone incentive to cock their heads forward at an unnatural angle, for hours on end.

As the Washington Post explains it:

1. Text Neck

as the neck bends forward and down, the weight on the cervical spine begins to increase. At a 15-degree angle, this weight is about 27 pounds, at 30 degrees it’s 40 pounds, at 45 degrees it’s 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees it’s 60 pounds.

That’s the burden that comes with staring at a smartphone — the way millions do for hours every day, according to research published by Kenneth Hansraj in the National Library of Medicine. The study will appear next month in Surgical Technology International. Over time, researchers say, this poor posture, sometimes called “text neck,” can lead to early wear-and-tear on the spine, degeneration and even surgery.

60 pounds!!! For perspective, that’s like carrying an 8-year-old around your neck for four hours a day. The problem is especially profound for young people, Dr. Hansraj told the Post, who may unwittingly and unconsciously be ushering in a lifetime of spinal pain.

Some ways he recommends to fight it:

Look down at your device with your eyes. No need to bend your neck.

Exercise: Move your head from left to right several times. Use your hands to provide resistance and push your head against them, first forward and then backward. Stand in a doorway with your arms extended and push your chest forward to strengthen “the muscles of good posture,” Hansraj said.

2. Hearing Loss

This is depressing. Hearing loss is not just for the elderly anymore. Most of us are very likely to have diminished hearing at younger and younger ages. If you’re not already having trouble hearing normal everyday speech, that day is probably coming, and sooner than you think. That is, unless you have actively and extraordinarily protected your hearing for basically your entire life.

Early and pervasive hearing loss isn’t solely a result of our digital devices, it's also a product of the everyday noise we all consider normal, but is actually at a decibel level that does damage: leaf blowers, lawn mowers, sirens, screeching subway trains, hair dryers, loud rock concerts, car alarms, even overly loud sound systems at restaurants and movies, and certain kid’s toys can all be, well, deafening.

All of these loud noises set our fragile eardrums vibrating and if sustained enough and loud enough can damage the whole irreplaceable apparatus.

But the widespread use of portable music devices is pushing this epidemic into the stratosphere. According to the New York Times, “a national study in 2006 by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association found that among users of portable music devices, 35 percent of adults and up to 59 percent of teenagers reported listening at loud volumes.”
Earbuds are potentially worse than headphones, but if whatever you are using is piping things in at a volume sufficient to drown out background noise, you might want to start learning sign language now.

Hearing damage is cumulative and irreversible. Carry around some ear plugs anyway, and turn down the volume.

3. Brain Scramble

What constant digital media use does to our brains is a big, seemingly speculative topic. But science is beginning to catch up, and it’s not pretty. Simply put, overuse of smartphones makes us less productive, less rested, more likely to forget things, and in a word, dumber.

Lots of people spend their days at their computer and their nights checking their phones, returning texts and emails. This, according to a recent study conducted by University of Florida, Michigan State University and University of Washington, robs people of the crucial ability to recharge in their off hours. Productivity, not to mention mental health, are both diminished.

Checking multiple devices and screens throughout the day has also perpetuated the idea that people have become better multitaskers, more able to flit between tasks, refocus quickly and get more things done, all thanks to the miracles of technology.

Dream on.

According to researchers, constant multitasking whittles away our ability to concentrate for sustained periods of time, kind of a prerequisite for meaningful accomplishments. Eventually, even when all the screens are shut off, our concentration is shot.

“The people we talk with continually said, look, when I really have to concentrate, I turn off everything and I am laser-focused,” Stanford University professor Clifford Nass told NPR. “And unfortunately, they've developed habits of mind that make it impossible for them to be laser-focused. They're suckers for irrelevancy. They just can't keep on-task.”

Read books any more? I barely do, though I do read voluminously online. It turns out I’m paying a cognitive and possible psychological toll for that. Reading on a screen is simply not as beneficial as reading in print. One study in 2014, “found that readers of a short mystery story on a Kindle were significantly worse at remembering the order of events than those who read the same story in paperback,” according to Rachel Grate at Mic.

And the more you read digitally, the harder it gets to do a deep dive into an actual book. The other benefits of reading include increased empathy, decreased stress and better sleeping. Both are significantly enhanced by reading print as opposed to digital. Much has also been written about the destructive impact of the blue light emitted by digital devices on circadian rhythms, the body’s biological clock, resulting in poorer sleep and the resulting panoply of physical and mental health problems.

Your inability to detach from devices will also both affect and infect the people around you, friends, work peers and family. When we lose the crucial ability to detach, everyone’s overall mental health and well-being suffers. Parenting experts have pointed out that children are scarred by having parents who are unavailable because they are constantly on their phones. So, if not for yourself, at least unplug for the sake of others you care about.

4. Computer Face

Okay, enough about the brain. Spending inordinate amounts of time in front of a computer is ruining people’s looks! Your looks! Seriously, if that doesn’t convince you to take more screen breaks, we don’t know what will.

Cosmetic surgeons are reporting that more women are developing the dreaded “computer face,” a combination of permanent frown lines, wrinkles around the eyes from squinting, jowls (jowls!) and double necks from looking down for long periods of time.

"If you spend most of the time looking down then the neck muscles shorten and go saggy, eventually giving you a second neck,” cosmetic surgeon Michael Prager told the Daily Mail. And because when people work and are under stress they frequently wear serious or even grumpy expressions on their faces, those lines are becoming permanently etched on younger faces.

The solution: Get up, stretch your neck, change your expression, move your screen to eye level. And Botox, of course, according to plastic surgeons, anyway.

No word yet on the long term effects of the dreaded “selfie face,” but it can’t be good.

5. Computer Vision Syndrome

The bad news, perhaps unsurprising, is that sitting in front of a computer screen hour after hour, week after week, year after year as many jobs require you to do can cause pain and discomfort to the eyes, blurred vision and headaches.

The good news is that eye doctors have yet to find that Computer Vision Syndrome causes permanent eye damage. And there is something you can do if you are experiencing the negative consequences of sitting in front of a computer screen too much, besides getting up and doing something else, like forever, which might not be an option.

A lot of this eye strain can be eliminated by making changes in your work environment. The Scheie Eye Institute at Penn Medical Center says, “Reducing glare and harsh reflections on the computer screen by modifying the lighting in the room, closing window shades, changing the contrast or brightness of the screen, or attaching a filter or hood to the monitor,” will all help.

They also recommend:

“Moving the computer screen to improve the comfort of the eyes. The screen should be at or just beyond an arm's length away (about 20 to 26 inches) to give the eyes a comfortable focusing distance. The screen should also stand straight in front of the face instead of off to the side to ease eyestrain. The center of the monitor should be about four to eight inches lower than the eyes to allow the neck to relax and to lessen the exposed surface area of the eye, which will reduce dryness and itching.”

You're probably ready for a break from the screen right about now.