WAYNE, NJ – A common concern of modern parents is that their children are spending too much time online, not experiencing enough social interaction and missing out on learning necessary skills in this area. With young people communicating more via text or through social media platforms than they do face-to-face, the concern is real. A local entertainer is proposing a magical solution.
A 2016 Tech Influence Study showed the average age that kids get their first smartphone is 10.3 years old, and have their first social media page at 11.4 years old. “The largest percentage of kids – 39% – got their first [social media] account between ages 10 and 12, but another 11% got a social media account when they were younger than 10,” reads the report.
A Pew Research Study found that children between the ages of eight and twelve spend an average of six hours a day online.
“We are raising a generation of screen-agers,” said magician, Bob Richey in a recent interview.
Richey is also known as Magic Bob, one of New Jersey’s top children’s entertainers, a professional with over thirty-years of experience. Working with an international group of magicians, he offers a licensed program through Discover Magic that subtly reinforces necessary social skills through online magic courses. “Basically, the whole program is a life-skills course, creatively camouflaged as a magic class,” he said.
Richey explained: “We reinforce social skills by teaching the kids how to properly perform magic. So, they learn how to talk to people, how to look them in the eye, how to have sequential thinking; you have to think in a certain order to present a trick properly. You have to be creative in the way you present your tricks and create your performances and be enthusiastic, all of which are traits of a true magician.”
Parents agree with Richey. “I can't believe what this program has done for my child without them even realizing it,” said Cheryl Tripp, whose child had recently gone through a magic course.
Normally, the course is done as an after-school program or at a camp in front of a live group of friends. “But, during these extreme circumstances, we are making use of the Zoom platform where the kids still get to participate in a group, but it’s done virtually and virus-free,” said Richey. “It’s actually a lot of fun to see the kids in this ‘corporate-like’ setting where they are on a Zoom conference call. It kind-of makes them independent, which is a huge thing for parents now.”
All the necessary supplies are drop-shipped directly to each child’s house, and each course is two weeks long. Each class happens Monday through Thursday for one hour a day, and each day, the children learn one new trick.
“This is sort of like a karate class, because there are four courses where you can earn your ‘belt.’ But for us the belt is a wand,” said Richey. “There are Purple, Green, Orange and Blue courses where the kids can earn their wand upon graduation from that course. When they complete all four courses, they earn their Black Wand.”
Along the way, each child focuses, without realizing it, on eye contact, sequential thinking, creativity and speaking in front of a group. “It’s a lot of fun; its goofy and it’s all centered around kids participating and practicing and being prepared,” said Richey.
Ben Smith, another parent whose child went through the program, believes it really is magic: “This has truly sparked something in my son’s life and has made him feel more comfortable around other people.”
If you are interested in learning more click here: Party Magic’s Magic Academy