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Archive for the ‘Video Games’ Category

The Pro’s and Con’s of Technology

May 29th, 2013 - Category: Video Games

We are surrounded by it all day, every day…technology.   We watch, listen, speak, and think with technology.  We know what an impact it has had on our lives because we can remember a day without it.  But, what affect does it have on our children?

A recent study by the Kaiser Foundation found that children between the ages of 6 and 16 spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes a day on the internet, television, or cell phone.

Does this surprise you?  Or are you thinking that they didn’t interview your children, because if they did, it would be more.

Technology has it’s benefits and the misuse of it has it’s regrets.  As parents, we’re here to help our children reap more of the benefits and avoid the regrets.

Here are some pro’s and con’s of using technology for you to consider as you set guidelines in your home.

 

Pro’s

Better contact – With a phone on their hip, it ensures that you’ll always be able to reach them, especially in an emergency.  It may improve your communication with them as well.  Texting can be a non-confrontational way to communicate when they are uncomfortable or have hurt feelings.

Empowerment – With an encyclopedia of information at their fingertips, technology gives your kids a place to figure out solutions and find answers on their own.  What a thrill for them and for you!

Teaching tool – Yes, technology is fun, but even “fun” games can be infused with learning too.

Prepares them for the future - Today’s kids are tomorrows work force.  They need to be able to navigate today’s technology as well as develop new ideas to be successful.

 

Con’s

Leads to laziness – Sitting in front of a screen all day can lead to a lethargic, sedentary lifestyle.  Childhood obesity is on the rise and it’s no wonder why.  Technology can take  away from playing outside and exercising.

Encourages instant gratification – Patience is a skill, a talent, a virtue, that must be nurtured and developed.  With answers just a click away, our children are becoming more impatient.

Depersonalizes everything – Face-to-face communication is a thing of the past.  We are becoming colder and more distant with every keyboard stroke.  The splendor of nature is also diminished by bright graphics and loud music.

Time consuming -  Even as adults we can waste time on the computer.  A simple email reply can lead to hours of time spent online, away from family.

Addictive –  Checking messages from the bathroom or taking the laptop to bed can be evidence that technology is taking over.  If your child’s life is fragmented by their gadgets and they can’t even focus on the task at hand, maybe an intervention is pending.

 

Whether you see more pros’ or more con’s when it comes to technology and your kids, remember the other side when making decisions that will alter their use.  Moderation is key.

Read a related article here: Technology and How It Affects our Kids 

What technology trends do you see with your children and how do you deal with them?

 

 

 

Technology and How It Affects Our Kids

March 19th, 2013 - Category: Video Games

In January, I shared with you my feelings about a book I had recently read, “The Demise of Guys”.  There has been an overwhelming response from people just like you that have similar feelings.

Traci, at http://www.beneathmyheart.net/shared this:

As a parent, I am so torn with how to raise my boys (that’s a picture of them above) in this day and age of technology-everything!

I feel the pressures of trying to keep up with the Joneses.  Many of Jonathan’s friends in middle school have iphones, ipods, kindles, etc.  Jonathan doesn’t.  He totally deserves them, but my heart tells me not to give them to him yet.

{*NOTE:  I am NOT judging any parents of children with iphones and ipods.  I know many wonderful parents with wonderful children that have iphones, ipods, etc.  The most important thing to consider is how much we let our children use these items.}

I think the main reason I resist is because I see how technology has affected me.  When I started blogging 4 years ago, I never in a million years thought my blog would become my business.  Now that it is my “job,”  I have to spend many hours on my computer… tweeting, facebooking, pinning, writing, sharing, editing, etc.  It never ends.

I’ve started realizing something.  I’m having trouble letting my mind “rest.”

When I do get a little quiet time, I find my mind is filled with “Oh I need to tweet that!”, “Should I text her?”, “Did I take those pictures for that post?”, “Wonder if my facebook group is talking about something important?”

I have such a hard time “resting” my mind before God, and it bothers me.  I truly believe that it is because I saturate my mind with technology all day long, and I can’t turn it off.

So here are my thoughts….if I struggle with that as a 42 year old adult that has only been submerged in technology for the past 5 years, how is that going to effect my boys who have been saturated with it since birth?  Literally.

Are they going to be able to “rest”?   Are they going to be able to turn their mind away from their iphones and ipads long enough to develop real and meaningful relationships with people in their everyday lives?

Those are the questions I ask myself.  I don’t have the complete answer, but I believe that studies are starting to show how technology can negatively affect our children.

As the mother of 4 boys as well, I worry about the purity of their minds.  I know that I cannot protect them from every harmful thing in life, and I don’t want to.  It is through those difficulties that we can grow.

But as far as pornography goes, I will do everything I can to protect them from the life-wrecking effects of it.  There’s no question about it…it can destroy a man’s life.  It’s black and white.  No discussion.  Not a choice.

And here’s another comment from Lauren:

I know you will probably get tons of emails about your post today, but I had to chime in to say THANK YOU for writing this post!!!  As a mother of a 16 year old boy, I am all too aware of what technology can and is doing to our youth.  I struggle daily with his gaming and how much time he spends doing it, which in turn creates many “discussions” with him regarding the dangers of it.  He doesn’t understand and sadly, I really feel like it has negatively impacted my relationship with him.

My solution has been to set boundaries.  He is only allowed to play games for certain time periods and has to turn off (or turn in to us) his ipad and phone by 9pm.  I can only hope that he realizes in time that we did the right thing by setting these boundaries.

Thank you again for writing this post and bringing more awareness to this subject.

 

It’s all up to the parents to realize it is our responsibility to set limits and understand just how important this issue is if we want our children to become healthy well adjusted adults.

I hope that as parents we can wake up to the fact that we have an influence on our children, for good or for bad.   And it doesn’t take force.  We can lovingly guide and lead and direct them for good.

The statistics prove that times are changing.  Let’s make sure they change for the better.

Click here to view my first article, “Alarming Trends About Guys and Technology“.

 

And thank you Traci and Lauren, for caring and sharing your thoughts on the subject.

Learning while Playing Outside

September 4th, 2012 - Category: Video Games

 

We went camping as a family for Labor Day this weekend and after everyone put up their “technology toys”, I was reminded about what is so great about the outdoors.

The trip started with kids playing games on their Nintendo, listening to music on their Ipod, and texting on their phones.  There was a general complaining when we were out of internet and cell phone range and everyone’s batteries started running out.

That first night it was like pulling teeth to get everyone to help set up the tents and start a campfire and there were lots of complaints about how bored they were and how much they were missing face-book.  Attitudes didn’t change until the next day when someone found a lizard, and that’s all it took.

Off they were into the great outdoors.  They showed up briefly every now and then to get a drink or get a plastic cup to dig in the dirt with.

Their day consisted of making bridges, scaling rocks, and climbing trees.  I, on the other hand saw things differently.  I saw how they had to cooperate and work together to make the bridge.  I saw how they had to problem solve to figure out how to scale the rocks to get to the other side of the ravine.  I saw how they helped their younger siblings up when climbing trees that were a little too big.  I saw them living and growing as a family right before my eyes.

They played all day long.  I didn’t have to haggle over screen hours or ban them from certain games until their chores were done.  In fact, I had to bribe them back to camp after dark, with roasted marshmallows that evening.

The next day was similar and the fighting was no longer about who had the most points on their favorite video game but who had the longest scratch or the most dirt around their ankles.

Day four was when we had to leave.   Faces were drawn and the complaining had turned into “Why do we have to go home?  Can’t we stay here forever?”

There was still fighting when everyone had to clean out their tents and roll up the sleeping bags, but the fighting was a little different this time.  I noticed a little more working together, like on the bridge.  I noticed a little more understanding when folding up the tent, just like scaling the rocks.  I noticed a little more patience with their family and help given to their younger brothers and sisters, just like climbing the trees.

I guess I was blessed to grow up in an age when kids played outside more.  When the worth of my day was based on how dirty I was when I got home and the ring around the bathtub.  If my mother made me get undressed on the porch before I came in the house, that was a great day.  I’ve never regretted a day spent in the outdoors and I know my life has benefited in more ways than one because of it.  I hope my kids can say the same.

What Video Games are Good for My Kids?

March 9th, 2010 - Category: Video Games

We’ve talked in a previous post about some of the detrimental impacts that video games can have on children. Their addictive nature and the fact that they are a time muncher are just a couple of the side effects that can come from video games. However, we also mentioned some of the positive effects that video games can have on children such as higher level thinking skills, processing, and learning to be resourceful.

Because video games, when played in moderation, can have a positive influence on children, it’s important that we as parents are aware of what is out there. When your child wants to purchase a game, how do you know if it is appropriate for their age or, even more importantly, your families standards. Here, we will discuss some of the things to look for in a game to determine if it is a good fit for your child and also list a few games that are on the “good” list for children.

Video Game Ratings

You are at Wal-Mart and your son comes to you with a green plastic “DVD” case and says he “HAS” to have this game. Some of you will recognize from the color and graphics on the case that the game is for X-Box. Some X-Box game covers are actually silver and white, the platinum edition games, but this not important to the point we’re trying to make.

In this pivotal moment, you have to make a decision. Do you disregard your son’s request and simply say, “we can’t afford it?” Perhaps he has been very good and has done his chores faithfully for a long period of time and you feel like he needs to be rewarded. You want to buy him the game but you are not sure it has violent or graphic content.

There is a quick remedy to this situation. In the bottom left corner of each game, there is a box image that contains the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rating for the game. The front of the game will contain one of 7 different ratings. These ratings are explained below.

ESRB Early Childhood EARLY CHILDHOODTitles rated EC (Early Childhood) have content that may be suitable for ages 3 and older. Contains no material that parents would find inappropriate.
EVERYONETitles rated E (Everyone) have content that may be suitable for ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
EVERYONE 10+Titles rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) have content that may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
TEENTitles rated T (Teen) have content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.
MATURETitles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
ADULTS ONLYTitles rated AO (Adults Only) have content that should only be played by persons 18 years and older. Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.
RATING PENDINGTitles listed as RP (Rating Pending) have been submitted to the ESRB and are awaiting final rating. (This symbol appears only in advertising prior to a game’s release.)

Games Making the MJC “Good” List

Though these ratings from the ESRB can be helpful in making a decision on a particular game that you don’t know anything about, there may still be times where you personally feel that something is not appropriate for your child even though it lines up with his age group on the box rating. So, we’ve compiled a list of fun games that are definitely family approved. Most of these are geared towards multi-player games that the whole family can enjoy (the list is not all inclusive and discretion should still be taken by the parent to determine whether the game fits your families standards).

  • Mario Kart Wii (fun racing game that can accommodate up to 4 players. Gather shells, bananas, lightning, and other ammo to throw at your competitors and impair their racing to move ahead.)
  • MLB 09: The Show (baseball simulation in which the player controls one or all of the players on a Major League Baseball team or some select Minor League Baseball teams)
  • Cars for X-Box 360 (Help Lightning McQueen win the Piston Cup Championship and cross the finish line first in this family classic.)
  • FIFA Soccer 10 (Choose your favorite teams, club or country, and learn to shoot like Rooney. This is a fun technical game with many updated features from the 09 edition.)
  • Wii Sports (Wii Sports seems to be everyone’s favorite Wii game. Encompassing baseball, bowling, boxing, golf and tennis, the games are simple but addictive. Best of all, it comes free with the console and up to four players can compete at once.)
  • Wii Fit (an exercise game consisting of activities using the Wii Balance Board peripheral. Wii Fit is currently the second best selling video game in history and is fun for the whole family. This game offers a fun and easy way to exercise.)

We hope you enjoyed this list and find benefit in the information regarding game ratings. What are some other video games that you and your family enjoy playing together?

Stop Playing Video Games! Parenting Advice for Children Addicted to Video Games

March 8th, 2010 - Category: Video Games

It is predicted by researchers that 8.5% of youth ages 8 to 18 who play video games show collective signs of addiction that psychologists know exist in pathological gamblers. This according to Douglas Gentile, PhD, an assistant professor at Iowa State University.

The negative effects of video games on children are evident all around. Not only can they eat up a large portion of a child’s time each day, leaving less time for more constructive activities like sports, homework, and chores, but they also can be very harmful psychologically and be detrimental to a child’s social interactions.

We’re not trying to be the big bad wolf on video games so don’t think that a few minutes of video games a day by your child is worth getting up-in-arms about. Video games can actually be a very good way to help children develop high-level thinking skills and other attributes such as resource management, multitasking, and on-the-spot thinking. However, too much of anything can become a hindrance and video games are especially harmful because of their addictive nature.

This in mind, let us discuss some helpful hints for parents who may have children that either are addicted or may be in danger of becoming addicted to video games.

1. Talk With Your Child About the Behavior

Have a seat with your child and talk about some of your concerns with his/her spending too much time playing video games. Discuss why you are worried and be genuine. Try not to be at all confrontational or upset. Do not accuse them of doing anything wrong. As far as they know they haven’t done anything wrong. Try to come up with a plan to reduce the amount of time spent on video games and increase time spent performing other labors.

2. Set-up a Time Period Each Day for Video Games

If your children are  only allowed to play video games during a given 30 mins in a day, they will be forced to engage in other activities during their free time. This will increase their ability to be creative. Also, you will free up some time for them to do homework, play outdoors with friends, and help out with chores around the house

3. Use MyJobChart to Help Children Work for Gaming Time

MyJobChart’s ingenious chore chart system allows parents to set up chores for children online. Each child has an account where they log in and see the chores assigned them each day. When the child finishes a chore, he/she gets points and these points can accumulate and be cashed in for rewards. As a parent, you could specify the amount of points that would equal 1 hr of video games for you children. In this way you teach your children that work comes first and then they are able to enjoy the fruits of their labors. It is also fun for them because it is online. They may even feel like they are playing a video game already just by getting to log in, check off chores, and browse rewards.

4. Provide Alternate Forms of Entertainment

Sometimes kids play video games because they feel like they just don’t have anything else to do. If the bike tire is flat, the skateboard is broken, or their is nobody to play basketball with, it is going to be very easy for the child to go to the TV and fire up the X-Box or Play Station. Make sure your children have different options for what they do with their free time and when they do have free time, suggest they do one of these other activities as opposed to playing video games. This may even require that you take time out of your day to drive them to the skate park, soccer field, or a friend’s house.

5. Help Them Make Friends

It is sad, but oftentimes children begin playing video games alone for extended periods of time each day simply because they lack the ability to make real friends at school or in social settings. As parents, think of ways that you can help your child make friends with similar interests. If some of your friends have children, invite your child to come with you when you do things at a friends house. Your children will be in a situation where they can interact and spend more time with each other which can lead to developing deep and lasting friendships. You can also help them by signing them up for extra-curricular activities such as basketball, dance classes, gymnastics, or drawing clubs.

Perhaps you have some ideas on how else you might be able to help children stop spending as much time playing video games. Please share with us what has worked for you or ask any questions or specific problems you may be facing. We would love to hear your feedback.