People often ask what it takes to play club soccer. For kids, it's speed, agility and fortitude. And for their parents, it's a willingness to spend eleven years driving 4-8 hours every weekend.
These drives involve finding your way to places you've never visited, but have heard mentioned on the news when there are gang killings or extreme weather. And the games are usually scheduled for 7 AM and 5 PM, leaving you with six hours to kill in cities with few offerings besides a Denny's, a Walmart, and if you are lucky, a video arcade.
Club soccer, of course, is not the only interest that prevent kids – and their parents – from having a life. There are other sports, like volleyball, which means spending weekends in the Comfort Inn in Reno. There are also dance competitons, horse shows and chess tournaments - all of which require giving up all of your free time for the majority of your parenting years.
Until recently, the Law of Inconvenient Youth Logistics ensured that if your child became interested in an activity, it would not be available at a normal hour within a twenty mile radius of your place of residence. But now, thankfully, more and more students are pursuing a challenging extracurricular that can be practiced right in their own homes, often for as long as six hours a day, seven days a week. And it is an activity that teaches the importance of individual accomplishment, rather than the clichéd lessons of teamwork.
That activity is Facebook.
I didn't appreciate the enormous skillset necessary for Facebook until I joined several weeks ago. Even an absolute beginner needs talents in Computer Science, Graphic Arts, Photography, Creative Writing and "Sending Good Karma".
Unlike sports or other popular extracurriculars, Facebook requires no uniforms, costumes or equipment. It is cheap, convenient and injury free. (The Neurotic Parent Institute has not heard of anyone getting hurt, other than by suicide.)
And the networking potential is so immense that Facebookers might not ever need to go to college. They can have thousands of friends who will invite them places, and even get them jobs, without ever having to speak to them or see them. They can even become famous, like one of Brown'16's older sisters, who now qualifies as an "Internet It Girl" with 1243 friends and thousands of adoring posts on her wall.
But Facebook is an activity that is only appropriate for the most focused and driven kids. It is impossible to just dabble – three hours a day is the bare minimum required for the child who chooses this as his or her passion.
So give away the cleats and sell the horse. This is the activity you want your kids to excel at. And it is essential that your kids start when they are young – Although I like to consider myself reasonably computer literate, I still cannot figure out when it's my turn at Scrabulous.