|Eleanor with her mag.|
In Voyaging With Kids, authors Behan, Sara, and I address one of the primary concerns of soon-to-be cruising parents: Will my kids get enough play time with and exposure to other kids? I’m not going to repeat that chapter here, but I’ll share one tip we give in the book because I can’t say enough positive things about it: moderated social networking.
I’m talking about Facebook-like sites for kids—and before you lower your head and peer at me over your sunglasses like I’ve got to be kidding, I’ll assure you I’m not.
On our way south from Alaska in 2013, we found ourselves in a natural foods co-op near the boardwalk in Eureka, California. It was a week or so before 9-year-old Eleanor’s 10th birthday and she appeared before me in the produce section with a magazine in her hand.
“Can I please get a prescription of this for my birthday?”
“A subscription? Let me see.” I thumbed through the current issue of New Moon Girls magazine before handing it back to Eleanor, nodding. “Sure.”
She smiled and thanked me and went to sit and read.
I grabbed Windy.
“Eleanor just found this magazine and asked if she could have a subscription for her birthday, New Moon Girls, do you know it?”
“I told her she could, it’s perfect for her: no ads, all content produced by girls her age and those up to the teen years, and I could tell she’s just sucked in.”
That was three years ago. Eleanor will be 13 next month. She’s not missed an issue. The same organization has a moderated social media site on which both my girls share their artwork and writing with a community of New Moon Girls Online members. They discuss politics and the kind of culture that my girls and girls their ages are into. And all in an online environment that is kind and supportive and just what I’d idealize.
There are other kids boats out here, sometimes even with kids aboard that my girls connect with. But in the best of circumstances, those connections are temporary—we’re all moving in our own directions. But no matter where we are in the world, my girls have this community of girls that they can tap into to feel a part of a larger peer group, to whatever extent they want.
I know they love it because Windy and I hear references to it daily.
And in the current New Moon Girls print issue is a feature story that Eleanor wrote, sharing her perspective growing up on a boat (adjacent to a story from another New Moon Girl who is growing up in an off-the-grid yurt). The week the issue dropped, Eleanor was gratified to get a lot of positive feedback from her online peers. That’s the kind of thing we couldn’t otherwise offer in this nomadic life.