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By Jamie Butow
I have long said my two favorite days of the year on social media are the first day of school and Halloween.
I just love seeing pictures of all my friends' kids as they set out in new clothes with new backpacks for a new school year.
I get that same joy on Halloween when kids are so excited to don costumes and makeup. You just can't help but find kids adorable when they have that "I want candy and I want it NOW" look in their eyes.
Plus, Halloween lends itself to the strange and bizarre like no other holiday. There are countless costume photos online that make you say, "What?" And of course you share them.
Halloween is a great pairing for social media because it gets at something everyone is either talking about or thinking about.
Here are a few examples:
* The folks at Digital Trends created a Spotify playlist full of Halloween music, including the theme from "Breaking Bad" and "Dracula" by the Gorillaz: http://tinyurl.com/BCaliSongs.
* Costume ideas are vetted on social media, as shown by a lengthy USA Today piece that notes the folks at Spirit Halloween keep their eye on social media and pop culture year-round.
This year's trends: "Sharknado" and "The Walking Dead." More here: http://tinyurl.com/BCaliTrends.
* One of the questions I'm asked most often is, "What's the point of Pinterest?"
On a day-to-day basis, I can't say there is one. But I'll tell you this: I'm in the early planning stages of a bathroom remodel and Pinterest is the best place to look for ideas.
But I believe Pinterest exists for holidays like Halloween. Where else can you find recipes for Dirt Cupcakes, Witches Brooms (pretzel sticks stuck in mini peanut butter cups) and sugar cookie candy corn? For that matter, how would we even know those items exist if it weren't for Pinterest?
Type Halloween into the Pinterest search bar and you're confronted with costume ideas, home decor suggestions, awesome step-by-step spooky make-up tips, and a very creepy picture of a toddler dressed as Cruella de Vil from "101 Dalmatians." There's even a primer for dressing as popular social media characters for Halloween. Go to http://tinyurl.com/BCaliCostumes.
* Need pumpkin carving ideas? Vine. Vine has lots of videos on that topic. Mashable compiles the best here: http://tinyurl.com/BCaliCarving.
Newsflash: Doctors want less screen time for kids.
Meaning: Get them off their behinds and outside playing. Or at least building Lego villages.
The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that too much time on the Internet has been linked with violence, cyberbullying, trouble in school, obesity, lack of sleep and other problems.
Their new policy suggests kids get a limit of two hours of daily screen time -- social media and television. Online homework is an exception. They mention a 2010 report that found U.S. children age 8 to 18 spend an average of more than seven hours daily screen time.
Whoa there Nelly.
Seven hours? Do these children go to school?
Let's see ... We leave the house at 7:45 a.m. and there is no screen time in the morning. Heck, there is barely enough time to get my 9-year-old son dressed and fed before we're rushing out the door. We get home about 5 p.m. and his bedtime is 8:30 p.m. So even if he didn't play baseball and wasn't involved in Cub Scouts, the most he'd get is three hours a day (adjusting for meals, of course).
This year I implemented a new policy: No video games at all Monday through Thursday. It's amazing how his grades have gone up. And on weekends, when we aren't playing baseball or doing scouting activities, his precious video game time is often interrupted by neighbor kids battling zombies with Nerf guns (because Nerf ammo totally stops zombies). He absolutely has to be in on that action.
I'll say this: When the zombie apocalypse happens my neighborhood will be the safest place in all of Kern County. Those kids will be ready. They know they best places to hide, all the escape routes, and have strategically placed Nerf ammo in various places.
Screen time can't prepare you for that.