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News Opinion/Commentary

New rules introduced for Santa and family photos

Santa holding a small coffee cup
Image: iStock

Santa is coming to town.

But the lead up to Christmas is going to be different this year.

Herald Sun reported that Westfield has introduced strict COVID safe guidelines when Santa comes to town.

Strict social distancing guidelines will apply for both adults and children.

Children will not be able to sit on Santa’s lap, regardless of age. Instead, they will sit 1.5m (4.92 ft) away from Santa. It’s also possible that face masks will have to worn in all States and Territories, except Western Australia.

Also, interactions with Santa will need to be booked in advance. This is to avoid crowds.

Despite these restrictions, people are still optimistic.

Group General Manager of Centre Experience, Lillian Fadel said:

We’re delighted to be welcoming Santa to our centres to meet families this festive season.

Five – year – old, Mia Angell is excited.

I have been a little bit naughty, but a lot nicer. I am very excited to see Santa because he gives me presents.

Proof of vaccination

Staff will ask shoppers over the age of 16 to show proof of double vaccination. This will happen as shoppers enter.

Well it’s not ‘essential shopping’. So… I guess, I get it.

Changes to family photos

Family photos will also change. Retailers are asking families to remain social distanced. Photographers will make the photos landscape, rather than portrait.

 

Some Herald Sun commenters aren’t happy. One complained that this will make the family photos more expensive.

They have also pointed out inconsistencies. TheVictorian Government has allowed the Melbourne Cup, where thousands of people will be.

I get distance between the families and the photographer. But the families themselves?

When will it end?

I get it. COVID-19 is still around. It’s still infecting people around the world.

When is enough, enough? When will people be genuinely free? Frankly, it makes efforts that people have made look pointless.

What about vaccines?

New South Wales have already surpassed 80% double vaccination goal. 55.5% of people in Victoria are fully vaccinated.

I thought the whole point of vaccinations was going back to ‘normal’.

So, it should be OK for children in NSW to sit on Santa’s lap. Right?

Why do children have to be social distanced? Is it because children below 16 can’t get vaccinated (for now)?

In further news…

According to Forbes, malls in the US have tried to implement similar restrictions.

Children are expected to social distance from Santa and sit behind a protective window or dome. In some malls, Santa will be given a mask.

Also, for the rest of the year, US shoppers are expected to avoid shopping at malls, or only go once.

Shopper tracking firm, Sensormatic predicted a 22 to 25% drop in shoppers compared to 2019.

 

It seems like we need to live with this long term. The virus is not going to go away. The restrictions are not going to to away, either.

I’m glad that children are able to see Santa in stores. It’s better than nothing.

What are your views of these moves by shopping centres? Agree? Disagree? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

 

Categories
News Opinion/Commentary Social media

YouTube cracks down on misinformation. How far will they go?

YouTube logo
Image: iStock

YouTube has vowed to crack down on vaccine ‘misinformation’.

Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported YouTube was cracking down on ‘misinformation on the COVID-19 and other vaccines. As a result, YouTube has already removed over 130,000 videos. 

YouTube has seen a worrying trend surrounding vaccine misinformation.

“We’ve steadily seen false claims about the coronavirus vaccines spill over into misinformation about vaccines in general.

YouTube said they won’t penalise creators for sharing personal experiences. They also promised to allow content that talked ahput vaccine trials and historical successes and failures of vaccines.

Controversial osteopath and lawyer among the banned

YouTube banned American osteopath, Dr Joseph Mercola. 

He lamented on Twitter:

Anyone who asks questions or challenges the hard sell is immediately censored on social media.

Lawyer, Robert F Kennedy has also complained about the crackdown Through a representative, he lamented:

Free speech is the essential core value of a liberal democracy. All other rights and ideals rest upon it. There is no instance in history when censorship and secrecy have advanced either democracy or public health.

These bans have caused outrage overseas. YouTube banned Germany’s RTDE from posting on their channel. YouTube has also banned Russia’s RT channel from uploading further content.

Russia’s foreign ministry has slammed YouTube’s actions as “flagrant censorship and [a] suppression of freedom of expression”.

“Ad – pocalypse”: a reason to be wary

When I first read about this, I was skeptical.

I can’t help but think about what happened in 2016 and 2017. The ‘ad – pocalypse” saw the relationship between content creators and YouTube irreparably damaged. 

For those who don’t know, YouTube cracked down on content they deemed not “family friendly”. One YouTuber that fell victim to this crackdown was Swedish gaming YouTuber, Pewdie Pie. 

In 2017, Ad – pocalypse heated up. Major businesses, such as Amazon and Coca Cola revolted against YouTube after their ads were found on extremist content.

This revolt made Google lose almost US$1billion (US$750million to be exact). 

In response, YouTube cracked down on questionable and “borderline” content. Meaning: everyone who is not CNN or MSNBC have seen their AdSense revenue, views and subscriber count tank or climb at a snail pace.

Content creators have turned to other means of making income, such as Patreon and SubscribeStar to keep afloat. 

Secular Talk‘s Kyle Kulinski has been a vocal critic, claiming that his analytics have suffered ever since.

This is why I’m skeptical about Google’s latest move. Any independent creator with any criticisms or queries about vaccines will probably be penalised. CNN, MSNBC and Fox News will remain favoured by YouTube’s algorithm. 

I find it hard to believe that people who open up about adverse effects from vaccines will not be penalised. YouTube’s algorithm are less than perfect. From my understanding, they rely on tags. Tags don’t usually tell the context of the video.

So, if you talk about the ‘covid vaccine’ as a tag, YouTube may disable AdSense or otherwise penalise you, regardless of your intent.

Big Tech corporations have a habit of going too far when monitoring content. This should make all social media users wary, regardless of your views.

What do you think about Google’s anti – vaccine crackdown? Justified or too far? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Categories
News Opinion/Commentary

Mental health crisis: ED patients in mental distress say they won’t go back

Emergency Department sign
Image: iStock

 

TW: suicidal ideation, mental health distress. If these issues are triggering for you, please proceed with care. Seek help if you need it.

A mental health not – for – profit conducted a study that had worrying results.

The Black Dog Institute surveyed 911 participants in NSW and the ACT. Almost half of respondents who experienced suicidal distress said they would refuse to return to emergency departments or seek out further treatment.

43.5% of respondents said they wouldn’t seek out help from ED staff if they experienced suicidal distress.

Reasons given included: long delays, incomplete assessments and a lack of resources.

Associate Professor for Black Dog Institute, Fiona Shand outlined problems faced by many professionals and patients:

They know what the problems are, and they want to do more, but the processes and lack of resourcing don’t allow them to spend adequate time with patients or work in the way they would like.

 

A sign of a broken system

A participant from ACT opened up about her harrowing experience. She claimed that she went to the ED for suicidal thoughts in 2019. It exacerbated her anxiety.

Staff fast – tracked her, only to abandon her for hours. She said the experience left her “agitated”. The isolation could’ve been dangerous. When left on her own, she claimed she could leave the facility with no detection, or self – harm.

If this isn’t a sign of a broken system, I don’t know what is. Something needs to change. And it needs to change now.

People with serious mental health issues are being let down

Depressed woman sitting down distressed
Image: iStock

I’ve written before about the need to fix Australia’s mental health system.

I firmly believe that Medicare should cover mental health completely.

For patients who are diagnosed with a severe mental illness, psychology therapies should be free. An example of a country that does this is the UK.

The Government needs to expand Medicare

Why the hell are people with serious mental health issues going to ED? Because people can’t afford psychology appointments?

Will lifting the cap on Medicare reduce the need for ED admissions? Maybe.

However, if suicidal people do appear in ED, doctors and nurses need to know how treat them.

Effects of good mental health

There are reasons why I keep banging on about this. Good mental health means a better society.

If we improved mental health in our society we will improve:

  • Employment prospects: According to Urban Design Mental Health, poor mental health damages a person’s employment prospects. People with mental illnesses are 10 – 15 per cent more likely to be unemployed.
  • Family: When a person has a severe mental illness, family members are most likely to be carers. This can affect the carer’s employment, health, etc.
  • Homelessness: Another issue that people pay lip service to. 30 – 35% of homeless people are seriously mentally ill.

Too many people are literally dying because of poor mental health. More people are suffering in silence or are getting inadequate care. Enough is enough.

If you’re Australian, feel free to sign this petition for mental health to be properly funded under Medicare. 

 

 

 

Categories
Culture Social media

Instagram linked to poor mental health in young people

Instagram app on device
Image: iStock

The Wall Street Journal uncovered troubling findings on the impact Instagram has on teens.

Instagram’s parent company Facebook Inc conducted the research.

One slide from Facebook’s internal message board last year claimed:

Thirty-two percent of teen girls said when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse.

Another slide noted:

Comparisons on Instagram can change how young women view and describe themselves

Facebook Inc has conducted the research over three years. The consistent findings are worrying.

While not a cause, Instagram has shown to exacerbate depression, anxiety, eating disorders and suicidal ideation. 13% British and 6% of American teens blamed Instagram for their suicidal ideation.

Facebook CEO and Head downplay the findings

Not surprisingly, Facebook Inc has downplayed worrying findings.

Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg argued:

The research that we’ve seen is that social apps to connect with other people can have positive mental-health benefits.

Likewise, Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri has also minimised the findings, claiming size of the issue was “quite small”.

Instagram banks on young people

Young people are abandoning Facebook. They have been for almost a decade. However, the number of young people using Instagram has exploded.

People aged twenty-two and under make up 40% of Instagram’s users. On average, US teens spend 50% more time on Instagram than Facebook.

That’s why Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Instagram’s Head Adam Mosseri has downplayed the alarming research. At a Congressional Hearing in March this year, Zuckerberg argued:

The research that we’ve seen is that using social apps to connect with other people can have mental-health benefits

Mosseri downplayed the issues. He said the extent of the problem was “quite small”.

Of course, Mosseri and Zuckerberg will want to minimise links between Facebook, Instagram and youth mental health. Young people on Instagram have become their cash cow.

Instagram and the exploitation of underage children

Canadian Youtuber and podcaster, Josh Barbour is vocal against influencers who exploit children. His campaign was triggered by Myka and James Stauffer’s adoption and ‘rehoming’ of a Chinese child. (I’m not going to use the name the Stauffers gave him).

The case exploded Barbour’s channel, The Dad Challenge Podcast. Since then, Barbour has exposed a whole underbelly of child exploitation on social media.

Piper Rockelle and Liliana K

Two revolting instances of children being exploited on Instagram are Liliana Ketchman (aka Liliana K) and Piper Rockelle.

 

I remember when I saw his video on Ketchman, her account was mass reported. Liliana was underage (twelve, I think). Unfortunately, Instagram refused to take the account down. Reason? Her ‘mother’ (I use that term loosely) ran the account.

I was infuriated. I seriously thought about deleting my Instagram accounts.

A few months later, Barbour exposed the exploitation of Piper Rockelle. Unlike Liliana K, Rockelle was over the age limit (she was fourteen, I think).

The images are beyond revolting.

For me, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I deleted both my Instagram accounts. Please note,  I don’t begrudge those who still have an Instagram account.

However, if people delete their accounts in revolt, I’m all for it. People should hold Facebook Inc accountable.

Platforms like YouTube and Instagram are potentially putting children in danger. The full impact on child influencer culture is yet to be seen.

 

I’ll be fair to Mark Zuckerberg for a second. Do I believe that he  deliberately created Instagram to exploit children? No. But he is responsible. And Facebook Inc is failing a whole generation.

I’m passionate about mental health. I think that mental health care, especially therapies, should be free for clients. If you feel the same consider signing the Green’s petition hereYou can also write to your MP.

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

Let’s broaden discussions on mental health and fix the system

Paper head with heart in the brain

Image: iStock

 

Content Warning: mental health and suicide

Last week had RUOK Day and Suicide Awareness Day. Media personalities and my former high school were encouraging people to check in on loved ones and reach out.

That’s all lovely. I mean it. Everyone has times when they need to talk about issues. Everyone needs a shoulder to cry on.

But what if your issues run deeper? What if you are really at crisis point?

Psychotherapies: a major gap in mental health

When RUOK Day comes around, there’s focus on depression, anxiety and the devastating affects of suicide.

While these discussions are a must, I believe there needs to be more. There are more mental illnesses that need advocacy and treatments. These include (but not limited to):

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Substance use disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

All these disorders have a higher suicide rate compared to the general population.

The mental health discussion doesn’t go into the need for psychotherapies such as: dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). These are beyond the scope of Lifeline and Beyond Blue.

Mental health: a gap in Australia’s Medicare system

Australia has Medicare. It was first introduced in 1984. For the most part, Medicare allows Australians to access GPs and public hospitals for treatment without being left thousands of dollars out of pocket.

However, when it comes to mental health, there is a massive gap.

The Better Access Initiative

The Better Access Initiative is a scheme that gives eligible people the access to mental health services they need.

Unfortunately, it has its limits. According to Australia’s Department of Health website, the scheme offers 10 individual and 10 group therapy sessions a year.

For some people, this may be adequate. But if you require weekly or bi-weekly therapy, it’s not. For example, to be affective, a person with BPD needs bi-weekly DBT sessions a year. That’s at least 52 individual and 52 group therapy.

Australian Psychological Society encouraged change

In 2019, the Australian Psychological Society published a media release. They warned that the access to mental health services to Australians who needed it was inadequate.

In the media release, APS made a number of recommendations including:

  • More individual sessions available
  •  Group therapy sessions
  • An increase in therapy sessions for families and carers

Now, I’m guessing the Australian Government has implemented the changes by making the increase from ten to 20 sessions a year.

The APS should fight for more.

Follow UK’s example: make mental health free

Australia should look toward UK’s National Health Service (NHS). I get it has its pitfalls, but it’s philosophy is good. Mental health services should be free, even if a referral from a GP or psychiatrist is required.

Maybe the current Medicare Levy may need to be increased. Boris Johnson recently increased NHS rate another 1.25%. Maybe we should do similar here.

How much is a life worth? How much is mental health worth?

At minimum, the Government should  offer free services to people with serious mental health conditions. It may just save lives.

 

People with serious and chronic mental health issues need more than platitudes. They need more than once – a – year campaigns. They need services that they can access without going out of pocket.

What do you think? What changes can the Australian Government make to improve mental health care? Let me know your thoughts below.

Categories
Pop Culture

The Wiggles cast is expanding to promote diversity

 

Australian children’s entertainment group, The Wiggles will welcome new cast members next month. 

Four new members will join Anthony Field, Emma Watkins, Simon Pryce and Lachlan Gilespie. They are from a vast range of cultural backgrounds. Ethiopian – born Tsehay (pronounced Suh- hai) Hawkins, Indigenous ballerina, Evie Ferris, John Pearce, who is Filipino descent and Asian – Australian Kelly Hamilton will be the new members.. 

There are also new characters: Shorley Shawn the Unicorn, Officer Beaples and Bok, the hand puppet. They are non – binary.

The Wiggles accused of going ‘woke’

Not surprisingly, the changes have caused some backlash. Liberal Senator, Matt Canavan is critical of the move. He told The Australian:

The Wiggles are free to do what they like. It was nice while it lasted. But you go woke, you go broke.

Former Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director, Lyle Shelton also attacked the move. In an article published by Eternity News, he savaged the non – binary characters and attacked the use of a rainbow umbrella as a prop. 

Writer and former Australian Defence Force officer, Catherine Mcgregor,  condemned corporate ‘virtue signalling’ as an “absolute insult”. 

Is promoting diversity to children a bad thing?

How does promoting diversity affect children?

Children are naturally curious. Not only that, according to Beyond Blue, promoting diversity to young children can enhance their own self – esteem. It also helps children work out their own place in the world. 

Promoting diversity to children can happen in a number of ways:

  • Allow situations where children can listen and learn from people of various cultural backgrounds
  • Be a role model by being respectful towards people yourself
  • Schools and early education services can translate newsletters and notices to other relevant languages
  • Allow children access to a variety of media that explores people from other cultures. 

Gender identity

Let me say this once. Yes, children DO know about gender at a young age. 

According to healthychildren.org, many children develop their understanding of their biological sex and their gender identity between the ages of two and four. 

It’s this time that children also observe and pick up on gender roles. Many children who identify as gender diverse develop their sense of identity around the same age as cis – gender children. 

Parents can promote gender diversity to young children in a number of ways: 

    Give children books and puzzles that show non – stereotypical gender representations
    Allow children to play with a wide range of toys, regardless whether they are ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ toys
    By age of six, children play with other children and toys that fit their gender identity. Parents, caregivers and teachers should support these choices. 

Stop fear mongering about diversity!

Let’s stop fear – mongering about diversity. People are different, get over it! 

No, children are not ‘brainwashed’ to be a certain gender.

A four – year – old is not ‘too young’ to know their gender identity. 

 

Yes, let ‘children be children’. And let children be themselves, regardless of their ethnicity or gender.

What do you think of the upcoming changes tovThe Wiggles? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Uncategorized

PATRON ONLY: The history of The Wiggles

In 1991, Anthony Field founded The Wiggles.

According to New Idea, Field dedicated The Wiggles’ first album to his niece Bernadette. She’d tragically died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in 1988. At the time, he was touring with his original band ‘The Cockroaches’. 

The Wiggles formed

Field was studying Early Childhood Education in the late 1980’s when he met Murray Cook. 

Field, Greg Page and Jeff Fatt met through music. Fatt played keyboard for the ‘Cockroaches’ and Greg Page was their roadie. 

In 1991, initiated by Field, ‘The Wiggles’ released their first self – titled album. Field dedicated it to his niece Bernadette. 

Field also came up with the band name, after a song he’d written. 

Their first song was Get Ready to Wiggle. 

The Wiggles sold 100,000 copies, despite scepticism. Cook, Fatt, Page and Field had to produce the album themselves. No one would agree to invest in them. 

Due to The Wiggles’ successthings started to turn. The ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), printed and distributed the album. 

The Wiggles explode

By the late 1990’s, The Wiggles’ career exploded. Everyone wanted a piece of them!

In the mid/ late 1990’s (1996- 1997), the Wiggles started their own TV show. It was featured on the ABC. The 13 – part – series was eventually bought by Channel 7 and Disney Australia.

‘The Wiggles’ gained international attention. They performed in Disneyland in 1998.

Amazingly, The Wiggles’ songs also reached non – English speaking audiences. Their songs were performed in Cantonese and Spanish. 

Unfortunately, by mid 2000’s the original Wiggles started to disband. In 2006, Greg Page left the band after being diagnosed with a chronic illness. 

Murray Cook and Jeff Fatt left The Wiggles in 2012.

Cook has revealed to New Idea that he got very tired of touring:

We toured constantly for ten months of the year for 21 years! I think I was just tired of that part of it. Sometimes, in the middle of a tour, I’d wake up, not having slept much, thinking. ‘Do I have to get up?’. It was quite tiring. There’d be times when you’d be counting the days until the tour was over. 

The original characters

If you know The Wiggles, you know about their beloved characters. 

Since 1991, ‘The Wiggles’ have featured four main characters. They are: Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog, Henry the Octopus and Captain Feathersword. 

Dorothy the Dinosaur

Dorothy is a beloved green, yellow spotted dinosaur. Opera singer, Carolyn Ferrie voiced the character. She started playing Dorothy when she started going out with Anthony. 

According to Wiggles Fandom, Ferrie voiced Dorothy from 1996 – 2001, 2005 – 2009, and 2010 – 2018. 

Corrine O’Rafferty has played Dorothy since 2017.

 

Henry the Octopus

Jeff Fatt came up with Henry the Octopus. He played Henry at first. Then, Paul Paddick took over the role.  

 

Wags the Dog

Anthony Field originally played Wags the Dog. Paul Paddick ended up playing the lovable dog.

 

Captain Feathersword

Captain Feathersword has been a Field family affair. He’s been played by both of Anthony’s brothers, John and Paul. 

Captain Feathersword added humour by tickling The Wiggles cast with his feather sword. 

 

 

Categories
News Opinion/Commentary

Victoria faces bullying crisis

Girl devastated as she is bullied by a group of girls
Image: iStock

Trigger Warning: bullying

According to Herald Sun, students in the Australian state of Victoria are facing a bullying crisis.

Bullies told a girl to “f-ing kill yourself” in a viral video. The victim attended Greater Shepparton Senior College.

This isn’t the first incident. Bullying has been a huge issue across the Greater Shepparton area. One parent said:

I freeze every time I get a call from the school because I’m worried something has happened again.

As a result, parents are calling for more schooling options. The local government conducted a survey where 94% of parents said they needed more options in the area.

Cyber – bullying skyrockets during pandemic

Teen gets bullied via text
Image: iStock
Cyber – bullying has exploded across Victoria during lockdowns. Children as young as 12 have been victims. Victorian police have warned that bullying has “…serious consequences in the real world”.

Social media companies have failed to stamp out bullying

This infuriates me. Parents have alerted social media platforms like Instagram and SnapChat about bullying content. Unfortunately, social media companies haven’t acted appropriately. Social media companies haven’t taken harmful content down.

Social media companies need to be held accountable. Governments need to introduce laws holding social media companies responsible for what’s posted. If users flag bullying or illegal content, they should be forced to act. If companies fail, they should be heavily fined at minimum.

 

Bullying becomes discriminatory

Children are facing racism, sexism and homophobia. That really hits me hard.

It’s disheartening. It should be a thing of the past. I really hope that victims of such abuse can find at least one adult that they can trust.

Fighting bullying seems to be a never ending battle. That we are losing.

We need more mental health professionals

Late last year, I wrote about the mental health crisis facing Australian youth. Anxiety, depression, ADD/ ADHD and conduct disorder diagnoses are on the rise.

Just looking through Google, it’s clear to me that Australian schools need more psychologists and/ or social workers.

The Liberal National/ Coalition introduced a program to employ chaplains. Apparently it’s cheaper than employing psychologists or social workers.

The National School Chaplaincy Program is still around, despite controversy  My concern is chaplains’ potential lack of training and education of chaplains, compared to social workers and psychologists. Will chaplains be able to deal with complex mental health issues that children are facing?

While chaplains can attain a Bachelor degree in Social Work or Counselling, they often obtain  Certificate IV in Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care.

In contrast, an Australian social worker needs a Bachelor in Social Work at minimum. The Australian Society of Social Workers then assess aspiring social workers. Some social workers also gain a Master’s degree.

To be a clinical psychologist, the process is even more intense. According to the Australian Psychological Society, students have to complete a Bachelor degree in Psychological Science, plus an extra year for clinical study or an internship.

I’m not trying to disrespect chaplains. They can play a role in helping young people. However, psychologists and social workers can deal with complex social and mental health issues.

It’s time to take bullying seriously. Enough is enough.

If this post has raised any issues for you, feel free to contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14 or http://www.lifeline.org.au

Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 or kidshelpline.com.au

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636

Categories
News Opinion/Commentary

Simone Biles and the dangerous pressure athletes face

Ariake Gymnastics Centre
Image: iStock

U.S’s Simone Biles pulled out of the gymnastics finals last week.

Originally, Biles cited medical reasons for pulling out. Later, she cited mental health concerns.

Biles’ decision has faced condemnation. U.S commentator, Charlie Kirk slammed Biles as a “sociopath”.

Newscorp columnist/ commentator, Andrew Bolt was more sympathetic, but said “she shouldn’t be praised for quitting”.

Biles even got backlash from mental health professionals. Child psychologist, Clare Rowe, told Andrew Bolt that Biles had a “temper tantrum”. She also criticised a quitter mentality, claiming it sends the wrong message:

My concern, Andrew, is the message that it gives. She [Biles] gave the message recently that children should know that it’s OK to say you’re great at things. I don’t mind that message. If you’re genuinely good at something, own it. I don’t mind that. But I don’t like the message that if things don’t work out – that once you start something – you are going to quit. 

She made a point about what children should learn about team work:

…I like the message that you try your best at all times. And if you stuff up, you keep going, particularly in a team sport. 

I will agree with Bolt and Rowe on one thing. It probably wasn’t smart for Biles to claim she was great prematurely. 

Olympians under pressure

The Simone Biles controversy has exposed potential dangers of competitive sport. Supporters of Biles have argued that competitive gymnasts need to be at the top of their game (no pun intended), or risk serious injury.

Political youtuber, Kyle Kulinski was torn about the controversy, but acknowledged that Olympians are put under extreme pressure.

Kulinski also called the Olympics a “scam” and, using the logic, backed Biles.  

As history has shown, the pressure can have detrimental consequences.

The tragedy of Elena Mukhina

On Mamamia, Erin Docherty wrote about Elena Mukhina. Elena Mukhina was a Soviet gymnast in 1978 to 1980. 

In 1979, she suffered an injury. However, she was still pressured to train and compete.

At the Moscow Olympics, the then 20 – year – old Mukhina attempted the now banned Thomas salto

The result was disastrous. 

Mukhina suffered a fall that broke her neck. That left her paralysed for the rest of her life until her untimely death in 2006.

The aftermath exposed a Soviet coverup and close calls when other athletes attempted the same move. Finally, in the late 2010’s, the move was banned. 

Over forty years later, the Elena Mukhina tragedy and Simone Biles have exposed the extreme pressure athletes are under. It makes clear that everyone does have a limit that can’t be crossed. 

End of a fairytale

The fairytale of the Olympics I was fed in 2000 are over. 

The Tokyo Olympics has exposed how brutal the training and performing regime for athletes can be. It’s tough on athletes both physically and mentally. And, it can be dangerous if athletes are pushed too far beyond their limits. 

For that reason alone, Simone Biles may have made the right call. 

What do you think about Simone Biles pulling out of gymnastics finals? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 

 

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Categories
News Opinion/Commentary

Australian MP pushes for loot box restrictions

Two children under bed covers playing video games
Image: iStock

Australian Independent MP, Andrew Wilkie is pushimg for restrictions on video games that feature loot boxes.

According to Herald Sun, Wilkie condemned loot boxes as “barely disguised gambling”.

 

What are loot boxes?

According to Parent Zone, loot boxes are “virtual treasure chests”. They allow players to change weapns or characters.

Due to the rise of online gaming, the dynamic of gaming has changed. Buying a computer game is no longer a one – time purchase. Computer games, (including iPads, phones, etc) often require players to buy a subscription, rewards or coins to advance in the game. This is why loot boxes are concerning.

 

Gambling and the role of parents and caregivers

Children gambling is a growing concern. Earlier this year, Sydney Morning Herald reported 40 per cent of NSW children aged 12 – 17 were playing games with features that emulate gambling. 

Games featuring loot boxes, coins and rewards proved concerning. 3.7% of children studied were considered problem gamblers or at high risk.

There are a number of risk factors to this worrying trend. Parents who gamble are a risk factor. 58 per cent of children who gambled also had parents who gamble. 20 per cent had grandparents who did.

This makes sense. Addiction often has a genetic component. Also, parental modelling is important. Children often pick up habits and stressors from their families. This is why I think the issue deserves a holistic approach.

 

Problem gambling and mental health

Problem gambling is mental illness. Fourth Edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM IV) listed problem gambling as an impulse control disorder.

Additionally, problem gambling often co – occurs with other mental conditions.

According to the Department of Health and Aging, problem gambling has similarities to substance use disorder. People with pre – existing mood disorders, especially depression, are at higher risk for problem gambling.

Chronic isolation can also make problem gambling worse. Due to COVID and restrictions, it wouldn’t be surprising if addictions were exacerbated, including among children and teens.

Politicians need to take mental health seriously if they want to attack this issue. They should seriously consider making all psychotherapies free under Medicare. They also need to ensure there are adequate services.

Additionally, there needs to be adequate guidance counsellors and social workers need to be in schools. 

 

Mother supports Wilkie’s proposal

Faye James, mother of son Pablo, eight, supports the bill.

This kind of bill is fundamental. We need to make parents aware of what they’re getting their kids into. Restrictions and transparency is key.

I don’t disagree that restrictions should be in place. Children should not have free access to gambling – style games.

However, I can’t help but think this is a Band – Aid solution. Focus on mental health and access to appropriate services. Make sure that children get the support they need. And, maybe we’ll see the problem decrease. 

If you are in Australia and you or someone you know is struggling mentally, you can contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 (they also have a web chat)

Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 (for people under 25 or their parents or caregivers)

As always, for those outside Australia, feel free to offer any contact information to mental health services below.