COM0014 – Blog #3: Smart Parents and Smart Kids buy Generic Building Blocks and Not their Brand Name Predecessors

COM0014 – Blog #3: Smart Parents and Smart Kids buy Generic Building Blocks and Not their Brand Name Predecessors

My audience is parents of kids who are in the market for purchasing building bricks. Parents with young kids are busy people and don’t have a lot of time to make decisions because they are mostly busy working to pay for an expensive life. Parents with young children will be more cash strapped than they were before they had kids and will be more receptive to language that appeals to the pocket book. The language must be direct and the proposition must be made in the headline. An image conveying the idea in the headline, as well as some links, will be sufficient to allow the audience to absorb the information with little effort. A personal story or example will also serve as a powerful way to drive the point home. The following example will show how we are letting parents know that buying generic building bricks can be a better choice than buying brand name building bricks.

Smart Parents and Smart Kids buy Generic Building Blocks and Not their Brand Name Predecessors.

Building Bricks, Audience, Parents, Kids, Saving, Money, Smart, Creative, Learning Toys
Image by Matthew Lightstorm

Why buy the brand name building bricks when they cost 2-3 times as much as generic building bricks? In my experience, kids will play with both types of bricks with equal enthusiasm because eventually they invoke their own creativity. The pretty picture on the brand name building bricks is sensationalized and short lived. After building what is in the picture, what do you do next? Therein, lies the answer; you begin to modify and create according to your imagination. I did not mention the name of the brand names for fear of reprisal, but you know who they are. Some companies market the pants off of every single children’s movie and their characters to sell more of their toys! I don’t believe toy manufacturers are just asking for a small royalty of 5-10%, but more likely a 100%-200% profit margin on each box sold.

The average kid that is interested in building bricks will likely spend an average of $500 on these creative learning toys in their lifetime. If the end goal is to have more bricks to build more creations, then why settle for less bricks at a higher cost? A month ago I was shopping for building bricks for my niece and found that a 900 piece brand name building brick set was priced at $130. This particular set was not associated with any movie characters. I then decided to look at generic building brick sets and found that a similar set made up of 1000 pieces was selling for $49. When I did the math it worked out that the brand name comparable set was priced 265% higher than the generic brand set. Moreover, when looking at movie character sets, the prices quickly escalated between 400-600% higher in price.

So what’s the final deal? The deal is that $500 dollars spent on generic building bricks gives you the equivalent of approximately 10,000 pieces, which if otherwise spent on a brand name would cost the equivalent of anywhere from $1325 to $3000. So, next time you are in the market for purchasing building blocks consider how many bricks your dollars are buying and factor in how much it will cost you to give those kids a free range of creativity with as many bricks as possible. Smarter kids build more with more bricks and smarter parents pay less for those bricks–thats the bottom line! Check out these fantastic generic building bricks I found on Amazon.

My son just moved out and took me with him

Thrilled and devastated at the same time.

I’m thrilled because my son, who I had when I was 21 years old, was accepted into Waterloo University. He’s chosen to live at college so at the beginning of September we packed all his things and moved him into his tiny little dorm on campus.

When I say we, I mean I folded and fretted and packed way too much and agonized over what he wasn’t bringing with him.

His father moved him. I didn’t get to go for another two weeks. This was the agreed upon time that we had all decided was a safe margin for me to visit. And I admit fully that the both of them were right. I was definitely at risk of doing one of three things:

  1. Yelling at someone about their incompetence and therefor humiliating my 18 year old son in front of his new potential friends.
  2. Getting frustrated about something and making a big scene, and perhaps throwing something out a window and therefor humiliating my 18 year old son in front of his new potential friends
  3. Cry hysterically and beg him to come home, therefor humiliating my 18 year old son in front of his new potential friends.

Yes, one or all of these was an absolute certainty. I admit my fuse is short, and lit 12 months of the year. And truthfully I wasn’t sure how I was going to react when the time finally came. I’d never sent a child to college before. I’d never had one move out. I’d never been away from him for more than 5 days in his entire life, and even then he was with family.  We were young when we had him and I grew up while I was raising him, so we kind of became adults together in a lot of respects.

So I let his dad move him. I packed, I shopped, and ok, I cried a little, but he still wouldn’t cave and let me hold hands like we used to in the car when he was a toddler.

I’m thrilled, I’m proud. I am so happy that I’ve raised a smart, confident, driven man who is ready to be out on his own and take his place in the world. That’s my job. That’s always been my job. And he’s been a success on every level.

But I also feel like half of my personality went with him. There’s a strange empty space there that I can’t quite describe. It’s not good, it’s not bad, but it’s ultra-weird to be sure. It feels like I’m only half the person I was two months ago. Everyone tells me it will pass, but I’m not so sure.

Until then, I DO get to visit now, and I got to bring him all that stuff he insisted he didn’t need and then texted me for later. He keeps me updated on his classes and he’s making friends and loving his life. So although I’m a bit adrift, I am happy for him and hopeful that if I’m needed he will call.

But he still won’t hold hands.

Help! My 11 year old son created a Facebook account!

My 11 year old son had battery issues with his iPhone and asked if I could look into it for him. After a hard reset, his phone was charging again. Lately, he had been complaining that a few apps were “glitching” (is this a verb?) so this was the perfect opportunity to perform some maintenance and update his phone to IOS 12 (released Sept 17th).

In the process, I had to reset his Apple ID Password and when I looked at his emails, something caught my attention; there was an email from Facebook with a confirmation number.

On Saturday, my son had used Safari to create his Facebook account.

IMG_9148 copy

The email confirming my son’s Facebook account. (He speaks french)

And now what?

At first I was upset. I thought that he would have talked to us about it before taking such initiative.

Luckily for him, we had a full day to think about our strategy before meeting with him. That allowed some time to reflect on our parental responsibilities and do some research. In a way, this was our chance to open dialog further; about trust and use of social medias.

At this time we are not really worried about our son being bullied online. Our main concerns is his maturity and ability to deal with the overwhelming influences thrown at him, not to mention predators that might be on the hunt. If and when he creates a Social Media account, we’ll be there to coach him and answer any questions he might have. If he creates his accounts without us knowing, he might not reach out when it matters the most, and that can be scary.

What Facebook says

A quick search in facebook terms of Service shows that Facebook’s minimum age requirement is 13 years old.

“Creating an account with false info is a violation of our terms. This includes accounts registered on the behalf of someone under 13.”

(It’s the same for Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and many more).

What internet says

I went on and did my own research and managed to find many articles that would speak about that topic. Here’s two:

This CNN Article states:

“A 2011 Consumer Reports survey found 7.5 million people younger than 13 use the site”.

“But here’s the most important issue: There is absolutely no proof of any meaningful social or educational value of Facebook for children under 13. Indeed, there are very legitimate concerns about privacy as well as the impact on the social, emotional and cognitive development of children. What Facebook is proposing is similar to the strategies used by Big Tobacco in appealing to young people — try to hook kids early, build your brand, and you have a customer for life.”

The Huffington Post talk about 3 reasons why social media age restrictions matter.

  1.  Children’s Personal Information is at risk.
  2. Children under 13 don’t have the hardware upstairs to make smart decisions online.
  3. Lying is just plain wrong.

PEXELS - boys-cellphones-children-159395

Photo from

What my son said:

Fast-forward to that evening, me and my wife sat down with him to discuss our findings. His first reaction was pretty simple. He was really minimizing his actions saying it was only for the purpose of getting skins to use in Minecraft, a game he really likes. He had seen videos from a “Youtuber” that would encourage people to like his page to get extra skins for the game.

He even went on saying he shared no personal information and that he did not contact anyone. For him, it was no big deal.

What we (his parents) said:

First we reminded him that trust is the most valuable thing he might have and that he should be careful and talk to us before taking such initiatives.

We then explained to him our concerns (see above) and that we did not agree with him having a Facebook account before the age of 13. We told him that when the time would come we would do this together so that he would have a good basic understanding of the do’s and don’ts and the potential risks.  We also set a few rules, including charging his phone outside of his bedroom at night and never to share sensitive information like our address or the door code for example. We insisted that should he end up in an uncomfortable/weird/dangerous situation, we would always be there for him. Lastly we made clear that regardless of the App, he should only entertain a conversation with people he knows in real life.


My kids enjoying the ride.

Here is a few more articles I found that relates to Teenagers and the use of Social Medias:

Tips for Safe Social Networking for Teens

My Teen’s Social Media Contract

Should Your Child Have a Social Media Account?

How to Keep Your Kids Safe on Facebook

I would really like to hear your positive stories about introducing kids to Social Medias. Would you have dealt with this situation differently?



Facebook Logo HELP! My 11 year old son created a Facebook account!

Twitter Symbol My son, 11, created his own Facebook account. What do I do?

Who Knew “The Pecking Order” is a REAL thing?

A little over a year ago our then ten year old son announced he wanted to have chickens. Not for dinner. Chickens that lay eggs. Not knowing the first thing about this, we told him he had to research raising chickens; where they live, what they eat, how to take care of them, etc.

Being an active child, we thought he would look at the work involved in learning this (and then the work involved in taking care of them), and move onto something else. Well, a few days later he filled us in on all that was required to take care of chickens.
chickens 4 chickens 1

Shortly after we got six one-day old chicks. We were all in awe of their cuteness. A year later, we have 5 of these 6 chickens still with us. They are part of our family (this happens when you name them). Note to self; to avoid attachment, don’t name your chickens. Second note to self; Labs are bird dogs, and as such they like to kill and eat chickens. This is why we now have 5.

Every day during the frigid winter my son would thaw and refresh their water, take them food and spend some time with them in their coop (a converted garden shed). They were so happy to get outside this Spring once the weather warmed up, and we loved once again seeing them in their fenced-in yard out our window.

It was then that we noticed one chicken in particular getting picked on by the other four chickens. Her name is Larry (I know it’s a boy name, but chickens don’t care). They would pin her down and peck at her! We were horrified! We removed her from the coop for a few days, and then slowly tried to integrate her back in with the other four chickens. We were unsuccessful, and made her her own section within the converted garden shed coop.
chickens 2 chickens 3

Larry leads quite a privileged life for a chicken. She gets her own living quarters, free-ranges (when the dogs are inside), lots of people time, follows us around the yard like a puppy and snuggles like a puppy too.

We are still trying to integrate her back with the others, but so far to no avail.   She is definitely the low chicken in the pecking order.  I’ve always heard, the term “pecking order”, but I didn’t know it was a real thing!  Now I do.