All posts by Nancy Dear

I’m a mum who learned the hard way. We are a family of four – Nancy, Simon, Lyle (20) and Ethan (17) - who have lived in a suburb of Glasgow for the last 20 years with very little help from family separated by distance, or in the case of my own parents their untimely death. I have worked full-time throughout most of Lyle and Ethan’s formative years; currently combining part-time PR work with freelance PR and copywriting and for the first time really having a chance to appreciate how fleeting time with your children can be.

Decode digital career opps on cool new website

DLR-Hand-ArmIt’s as natural as breathing to most teenagers, but how do they make a career out of it?

I’m talking, of course, about social media and digital technology in general.

More than 84,000 Scots currently work in digital tech roles and more than 1,000 companies are active in software development and services, digital agencies work, games development and telecommunications.

But how do you find your way to one of these fascinating and frequently lucrative roles?

A former colleague of mine who is ICT and Digital Sector Technologies Sector Manager at Skills Development Scotland has the answer.

Claire Gillespie says, “The tech industry is one of the most exciting and rapidly evolving sectors in Scotland and there’s a whole range of industries, from fashion to music, that rely on digital and technology professionals to underpin what they do.

“Our digital technology sector has great potential to grow even further in years to come, so I’m delighted with the advent of a new website www.digitalworld.net, which shines a light on the many opportunities on offer.”

The Scottish Technology Industry Survey 2016 reveals the digital tech sector experienced strong growth in 2015, but that this success is creating a skills shortage.

There are numerous college and university courses out there to help young people step into the fold, but, as Yoda once said, ‘choose wisely young padawan’!”

The new website is packed with all manner of advice and intelligence including several excellent case studies on young people and the various paths they’ve taken to successful careers in digital tech.

Indeed, so keen are employers to recruit talented young people to the cause that the site also provides details of coder clubs in locations such as Glasgow, Stirling, Perth and Peebles to help children as young as nine develop their skills.

There are two coder club networks in Scotland, Coderdojo Scotland and Code Club, with further details at www.coderdojoscotland.com and www.codeclub.org.uk, respectively.

Claire continues, “The areas where we are likely to be seeing growth in jobs are around things like cyber security, ethical hacking, big data and data analytics, so if there are any budding young sleuths out there with an interest in computing employers would love to hear from them.

“Equally, artificial intelligence and robotics are no longer the stuff of sci-fi. Scotland needs another David Gow – inventor of the pioneering Edinburgh Modular Arm System – now!”

Start your voyage of discovery at www.digitalworld.net

 

 

 

Does social media show teenagers 2 worlds they can’t possibly reconcile?

Just back from a long walk with my good friend, Suzanne.

As usual we try to put the world to rights, or, more likely these days, accept there’s not much we can do to change things.

We both have teenage sons and frequently share the highs and lows including some hilarious moments not fit for print.

Today, though, we were comparing our own teenage years to those of our kids.

We went through the same search for identity and independence, but somehow it didn’t seem as complicated.

We concluded that the big difference for young people today is social media.

On the one hand it presents the impossibly perfect world of celebrities (accessible to young people in a way it never was 30 years ago). But on the other teenage angst with all its experimentation and heart-rending failures writ large.

Is it any wonder, then, that some overthinking, sensitive teenagers feel inadequate and see themselves in the numerous scare stories reflected back at them on Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram?

We look to our peers to help us make sense of the world, but that world can seem ugly and uncaring on social media. The classic teen problems of parental pressure, relentless homework and unrequited love can be magnified a million times over.

More worrying is the solution some kids come up with, whether it’s drink, drugs, self-harm and in the saddest of cases, suicide.

How can we help our children adapt to the relentless onslaught of information, which academics already say is having a detrimental effect on their mental health

I don’t have the answers, but think the way kids cope very much depends on their personalities.

Myers Briggs have made millions out of their type indicator tool, and I would never for a minute suggest which personality types are more prone to overthinking than others, but it’s something to consider.

Take a personality test based on the MB approach here

 

 

Mindfulness and Holden Caulfield

How the technique – now being taught in schools – could’ve been the saving of J. D. Salinger’s tortured teenager

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Selling approximately 65 million copies worldwide and a staple for teaching English, ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ was revolutionary when it was first published in 1951.

It’s a tale of teenage angst, but sensationally at the time, told in the words of 17 year-old Holden Caulfield, with his frequent goddams, lousys and crummys!

It also, however, describes the protagonist’s deep depression triggered by the death of his younger brother, but also by his general inability to understand the adult world.

He’s in a no man’s land, described in his own words as a contradiction – six foot two, but sometimes acting about thirteen. There are lots of other hints at his struggle to mature – “In my mind, I’m probably the biggest sex maniac you ever saw.”/”Sex is something I just don’t understand. I swear to God I don’t.” – with the overall impression that he’s heading for a fall.

A meeting with a former teacher confirms exactly that with Mr. Antolini delivering the memorable passage: “This fall I think you’re riding for – it’s a special kind of fall, a horrible kind. The whole arrangement’s designed for men who, at some time or other, were looking for something their environment couldn’t supply them with. Or they thought their environment couldn’t supply them with. So they gave up looking.”

That loss of identity and purpose during the transition to adulthood is something my teenage sons have wrestled with at various stages, and still do.

Fortunately it hasn’t tipped into depression, but the concept of young people feeling aimless and unworthy is something teachers are now having to address lest an epidemic of self-harm continues unabated.

Cries for help are happening at an alarming rate, as teenagers grapple with the perennial questions of what will I do when I leave school and will anyone ever love me.

Holden’s teacher advises sticking in at school, “it’ll begin to give you an idea of what size mind you have”, but he could also have suggested mindfulness to overcome negative thinking.

So prevalent is the Buddhist practice nowadays, that some school guidance teachers are being trained to deliver mindfulness coaching to kids.

What would Holden have made of living in the now – neither thinking back to past events that he can’t change, nor worrying about the future?

I’m sure he would have found out much sooner that it’s good to talk! After complaining for 25 chapters that many of his schoolmates, most adults and quite a few girls were “phonies”, on the final page he says:

“I’m sorry I told so many people about it. About all I know is, I sort of miss everybody I told (you) about. Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”

For angsty teenagers and anyone who lives life at a lick, Jon Kabat-Zinn says the seven attitudes that form the foundation of mindfulness are nonjudging, patience, beginner’s mind, trust, nonstriving, acceptance and letting go.

He furthermore defines the practice as paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment nonjudgmentally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Festive musings from the motherofall

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The last day of 2015 is an important one for Ethan Fox Dear.

Born on 31st December 1999 (with a middle name inspired by 20th Century Fox!) he has reached the grand old age of 16 and celebrated in style.

He went to the local burger bar with five of his closest friends, resplendent in Selected Homme checked shirt, Ted Baker flying jacket and Tom Ford cologne!

Ethan is a teenager with hidden depths – even to his mum. He is a paradox of thoughtfulness and kindness coupled with steely determination and, at times, brutal honesty. Not for the faint hearted is his appraisal of why I should stop moaning about my lot.

His personality has been forged in rivalry with his brother, but also undercurrents of insecurity, a consequence of his lone wolf demeanour – he’s never been one to follow the pack – and his red hair.

It’s a sad indictment that in the 21st century people are still pilloried for the colour of their hair.

2016 will be an interesting year for Ethan. His prelims are in January and his Highers in May.

He’s very good at English (though quite why is a mystery, as he doesn’t seem to read much) and after a shaky start in Maths was recently described by his teacher as a natural mathematician. The other Highers he’s sitting – Biology, Chemistry and Geography – reflect his interest in the natural world.

He recently completed the My DNA questionnaire on www.myworldofwork.co.uk with the overall conclusion that he is ‘a thinker, constructor, performer and chiller’.

The analysis went on the outline his core skills, potential areas of weakness and things he may want to work on including actively allowing and welcoming criticism and making a conscious effort to plan your time.

Good advice for adults of any age, let alone one aged 16.

Ethan is on a voyage of self-discovery and it’s absolutely fascinating to watch it unfold.