Tag Archives: kids

WSJ: Banning Tablets Is Best for Children

Christopher Mims, The Wall Street Journal:

Friday, the American Academy of Pediatrics validated my experiment, recommending that children younger than 18 months get zero screen time, and those ages 2 to 5 be limited to one hour a day—half of its prior recommendation. The group recommended that the hour be “high quality programming” that parents watch with their children.

Later in the piece, Paul Bettner, co-creator of Words With Friends and founder of Playful Corp:

“I’ve seen from my own life and my children that there’s great social interaction, great hand-eye coordination stuff, lots of storytelling and getting involved in the narrative, a lot of learning and skill building when children play videogames alone or together,” says Mr. Bettner. He limits his children to two to three hours a day, and encourages them to play videogames rather than watch shows.

In my post Nintendo Switch and Parents, I wanted specify that while the Switch might be a boon to both parents and children, by no means should a device be used as a replacement for babysitting nor physical modes of play.

I think the title of this Mims’s piece is misleading. That said, I like Bettner’s philosophy.

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Nintendo Switch and Parents

Parents surrender their phones and tablets to their children. E.g. child clamours for device—iPhone, iPad, or otherwise—the parent surrenders said device to child. Child commences gaming and/or YouTube.

This is anecdotal, of course. My wife and I have no children. But we’ve seen this time and time again with friends and family.

And if it’s not the guardian’s own device, it’s a separate device dedicated to gaming and/or YouTube for the child.

From the POV of a parent, wouldn’t it be nice to keep your device on your own person?

From the POV of a child, wouldn’t it be nice to have your own device dedicated for gaming/YouTube without the other unnecessary calendar/email/messages/etc apps?

Enter the Nintendo Switch. A dedicated seemingly state-of-the-art-ish portable/home console multiplayer-ready uncompromised gaming device, surely ready for YouTube when on wifi (an optional data plan would be even better), by the greatest game designers on the planet, Nintendo.

While none of the talent in the trailer appear to be under the age of 20—even donning red cups at a rooftop party!—the Switch could be a game changer for the household.

Of course, it will come down to Nintendo’s ability to attract third-party devs—a feat they have struggled with since the Nintendo 64. And not just any third-party titles, but titles outside of Nintendo’s own legacy: education, infants, toddlers, etc. Lock down the third-parties with simple development and distribution, and (price willing) the Switch will be a boon for parents and children alike.

Children: here’s a device for the things you care about.

Parents: take your devices back.

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Right and Wrong

Jessica Chobot on The Nerdist Podcast:

This is not a kids (necessarily) hobby anymore. When you’re selling game consoles at like 600 bucks a pop and games at 60 bucks a piece (or AAA titles because you’ve got your indies and they’re a little cheaper, but you get my point), that’s not just a child’s hobby.

Chris Hardwick replies:

And not only that, but I think the inherent value of , just like you said with your dad, is how you guys bonded. That’s how Chloe [Dyskra] and her dad bonded.

Chobot:

Totally. But you always hear the shit stories about, “Oh, kids are shooting up because they play too much Call of Duty.” Well, what about the father and daughter relationship that grew…

Hardwick:

It all boils down to your responsibility as a parent. And video games can be amazing if you’re a responsible parent, if you’re engaged. If you’re not a responsible parent, video games are not the thing that fucked your kid up. Something was going to get that kid sooner or later; (joking) whether it was backward masking on record albums or Devil worship…

Chobot:

Elvis dancing in front of the television…

I will stick with this until the day that I die: There is no excuse for parents to complain about games giving their children bad ideas to go do awful things because there are parental controls on the consoles, there are parental controls built into your TVs now, there are warning labels on all of your games, you have to have a license to even purchase them.

Yes, if they really wanted to go out there and get it [they’ll] find it. But if they are trying that hard to get on something you’ve told them “no” to multiple times and you have no idea what the hell is going on, then that lies in your lap, nobody else’s.

Hardwick:

I also feel like “things,” like games, “things” are inherently neutral. They don’t have any value except for the value people place on them. If someone has the right value system going into something, they’re not going to interpret that thing as, “this is what I should go do.” They need the right system in place in order to process those things.

My parents let me watch all kinds of stuff when I was a kid. The reason I became obsessed with stand-up was because my parents didn’t censor, I mean I couldn’t watch porn … but the idea that if you have good values going into something you’re probably going to take it in a better direction than if you didn’t.

But I’m talking out of the side of my face because I don’t have kids.

Chobot:

Just to play Devil’s advocate, I’ve only had one time where I’ve played a game that I walked out and the first thing I saw were targets. That would be Grand Theft Auto.

That’s when I was like, “Whoa. Now I can kind of see the angle of that argument.” But still, you have the morals in check because you were raised properly, and also the fact that I’m thirty-something-years-old and I can play a game like that and know the difference between right and wrong.

I’ve had similar feelings after long sessions with GTA. I’ve also had similarly profound feelings after watching movies, if not more so. A good adventure movie can make me want to adventure. A good motivational movie can pump me up. A good action movie can give me fantasies about speeding around traffic or doing impossibly dangerous stunts. Nevertheless, I don’t engage in dangerous or immoral behavior because I know the difference between right and wrong.

Is it possible that movies offer heightened emotive states due to their passive nature versus the participatory nature of video games? Does being able to participate in virtual acts of running, jumping, and shooting allow us to vent those fantasies rather than creating curiosity after simply watching?

On the note of parental controls, willingness to learn new technology is a huge factor in parenting. That said, tech developers also have a responsibility to provide clear and accessible controls for their audience. Not because older generations may struggle with implementation (heads up, many millennials are now parents), but because consumer UI should not be difficult to use.

Last bit: ET scared me. The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie is dark. Gremlins appeared to be a children’s movie but felt creepy and disturbing. I look at movies like Super 8, Transformers, and the new TMNT reboot and have to wonder if “children’s” movies are slowly harkening back to the darker tones established in the ’80s and early ’90s.

I spent a lot of my early childhood watching movies like Alien, Predator, Fire In The Sky, Conan the Barbarian, and Mad Max. I’d like to say that I turned out to be a pretty decent human being.

Alas, I too am talking out of the side of my face.

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Webster Goomez the stuffed Goomba

Susan Senator, writing for Cognoscenti, on “Webster Goomez” the stuffed Goomba:

A day or so later, Ben remarked that Webster was ‘kind of adorable.’

Adorable? Did I hear that right? Never had such a word come out of Ben before. I quickly recovered my cool and tried not to make too big a deal out of it, so as not to embarrass him. But inside, I cradled that word, longed to hear it again, hoping I hadn’t imagined it. But no, this was for real. A few days later, I heard Ben describing a different character as ‘cute.’

Cute 🙂

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Osmo: New creative play

Pramod Sharma, Tangible Play CEO and co-founder, on skills machines can’t replicate:

One is the social and emotional learning. How do we connect with people? There’s a skill required in that. That’s fundamental for anyone. In school, they don’t know how to teach those kids.

The second one is creative, out of the box thinking. How do you teach kids to be creative? The theory [from educators] is when you’re using a device, or any gaming device, you’re creatively always a function of what the device lets you do. The Wii, for example, you can do only a constraint of what the controller is. You cannot go beyond this.

A simple modification turned creative moderator. Fascinating.

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Well played: On multiplayer behavior, discipline, and new interactions

Patrick Stafford, The Atlantic:

That’s why Wiseman and Burch say game makers should feel obligated, as creators of the most popular entertainment medium for boys, to inject some emotional nuance into their work.

Making cooperation a part of gameplay is an easy way to do that. Many games already require players to use teamwork to win, but Burch and Wiseman say more can be done. Football matches require players to shake hand after every match—what if there was a digital equivalent?

In middle-school, I sent a recruitment request email to a Quake clan leader (there has to be a better term for this) full of overly aggressive sentiment and profanity from my friend’s computer. What I did not realize was that his father was able to track all outbound communication from the machine. I was later disciplined for my vulgarity by my parents and was forced to apologize to my friend’s parents. Full of embarrassment, I learned that the type of dialog I had engaged in was not appropriate. I also learned that even seemingly “anonymous” communication could be tracked.

I also recall seeing the term “gg” for the first time after a Starcraft match. After learning that the acronym stood for “good game,” I was taken aback. This may have been the first time I had seen resolute, positive communication in an online multiplayer setting. Sending “gg” at the end of each match became a ritual. This ritual can now be seen in Hearthstone. There has been much praise for Hearthstone’s use of limited speech commands, with a majority of matches ending in, “Well played.”

Fast forward a few years where I was called out by an openly gay high school classmate for being a “dick.” I am uncertain as to exact circumstance but I do recall being deserved of this title. At that moment, I had become acutely aware of my thoughts, actions, and communication toward others.

Not only does removing abusive communication from a game create an uninhibited environment for play and experience, I would bet that it has a lasting impact on real-world perspective and interaction. As long as slanderous behavior is met with positive reinforcement from in-game peers, the cancer will grow. Those shrouded in anonymity may be wise not to display this behavior in public but will continue to bank harmful viewpoints in private until disciplined by peers, companies, or guardians. Here’s to hoping Donald Sterling opened some eyes.

Discipline is necessary. I fear that those children continuing to engage in lewd behavior are not being disciplined or monitored. What is worse are the adults who continue to engage in such behavior that may never be disciplined or monitored.

One additional bit on innovative interaction in multiplayer games:

John Siracusa on Journey’s use of multiplayer interaction in “Strange Game”:

Though players can’t harm each other, they can help each other. Touching another player recharges the power used to leap and (eventually) fly. In cold weather, touching warms both players, fighting back the encroaching frost. More experienced players can guide new players to secret areas and help them through difficult parts of the game.

Journey players are not better people than Call of Duty players or Halo players. In fact, they’re often the same people. The difference is in the design of the game itself. By so thoroughly eliminating all forms of negative interaction, all that remains is the positive.

Players do want to interact; real people are much more interesting than computerized entities. In Journey, players inevitably find themselves having positive interactions with others. And, as it turns out, many people find these positive, cooperative interactions even more rewarding than their usual adversarial gaming experiences.

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Jordan Shapiro on the current reading habits of children

Jordan Shapiro writing for Forbes:

Of course, it is easier to frame the story as paper vs. digital. It gives us permission not to engage with our kids. We can blame the video games and apps rather than blaming ourselves. Parents need to take responsibility for raising thoughtful, empathic, open-minded adults. Books are a crucial part of the equation. But even if we eliminated every digital technology from our lives, our kids still won’t read books unless we tell them in no uncertain terms that books are an important part of being an adult.

Shamefully, at the age of 28, I have discovered that the substance contained in non-fiction books is unmatched by video games. I have never been much of a reader but have been challenging myself to read more and more each year.

This year, I have decided to do a majority of reading on my devices. Once I finish a book, I buy the print version as a trophy or achievement. Is buying a book twice crazy? Probably. But the author gets a small bonus and it has me yearning to read cover-to-cover. One step toward gamifying my reading experience.

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Identity Crisis: Kids Know Best

Why are you who you are?

I have been struggling with my professional path. I’ve poured countless hours into personality tests (MBTI, enneatype, etc.), asked close family and friends what they envision me doing, and have tried my luck exploring various professional and creative avenues (music, marketing, writing, programming, etc.) with little to no epiphanies. Days go by with my ego smashed and I’m left upset that others feel the wrath of my lack of self-confidence and drive. But I may have found a fix…

To center myself, I have begun to explore my childhood hobbies.

At my lowest point, I find solace in my earliest childhood memory playing Mega Man 2 on the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Not only do I mark this as the beginning of my fascination with video games but my obsession with technology and mystery altogether. The ability to control an 8-bit sprite paired with the question of how Rockman would adopt a boss’ weapon paved way to the foundation of my creativity.

I spent many years prior salivating over LEGOs, namely the $99 flagship models. Even now, I’m having overly fond memories of the Ice Planet 2002 “Deep Freeze Defender” and Blacktron 2 “Aerial Intruder.”  Sure, I’d play with the sets after completing them, conducting a war between the knights of the “Royal Knight’s Castle” and the thieves of the “Dark Forest Fortress,” but more importantly, the idea of creating something new from an incomprehensible cluster of pieces into a formidable kingdom subconsciously encouraged my building and storytelling skills.

Away from toys and video games, I spent plenty of time in front of the TV. While I enjoyed several Nickelodeon TV shows such as Guts, Legends of the Hidden TempleNick Arcade, Double Dare, and Wild & Crazy Kids. I (like many) absolutely adored the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Even today, I can recite every piece of dialogue, mimic every sound, and predict every special effect from the original 1987 series. As tickled as I am that the TMNT have found their way back to the limelight in the forms of a CG cartoon, toys, comics, video games, LEGOs, and (soon to be) a film, I am more excited that today’s youth can experience the lessons of family, humility, leadership, intellect, passion, and humor as I did when I was a kid.

In all, when I find myself in a funk, unsure of the next move to make or how I found myself in the position I am in today, I think back to how it all started. Like most, I enjoyed video games, but was drawn to the technology and mystery within them. Like most, I enjoyed LEGOs, but I discovered storytelling and handy-work. And, like most, I fell in love with a cartoon, but I found love, family, and identity.

While I spend the majority of my days searching for myself, my passion, and my next professional endeavor, I take comfort in understanding my foundation. It gives me pleasure assisting customers in the tech world, helps me bridge the gap between a geek and a people person, and grounds my interests in the tech and media/communication fields.

My challenge to you: Think back to those activities you loved as a child and consider why you loved them. Without a doubt, some of the answers you’ve been seeking lie within your fond childhood memories.

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Originally published at TheStarrList.com

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