DVD Players in Cars

A few years ago my aunt got a new car and my little cousins were so excited… over the DVD player in the backseat.  More recently, I was driving home with my friend on the Northern State Parkway last weekend, just after midnight, and saw a minivan with not only one DVD player in the backseat, but one behind the driver seat and one behind the passenger seats.  Two DVD players for kids in the back!?

childrenwatchingdvd

For long car rides, I kind of understand.  It keeps them entertained.  It makes the ride go faster.  And, of course, for the parents it eliminates the question “Are we there yet?”

However, aren’t long car rides the time for family bonding, playing alphabet and license plate games?  I fondly remember when my family was moving up from Florida to New York, my sister and I piled all the Barbie dolls and accessories into the backseat and played for hours, literally.  I even remember my mom commenting on how nicely we were playing.

Then, there are the trips that aren’t hours to grandma’s house, but rather quick spurts to the supermarket, the dry cleaners, the hardware store.  Do kids really need to watch six minutes of a “Dora the Explorer” episode between the house and the destination?  Have we handcuffed our children to the screen?

Furthermore, were these technologies created to enhance the car experience for kids, or for mom and dad?

Gaming Gadget and Nitrous Oxide??

A very special thanks to my friend and fellow blogger for sending over this disturbing article from BoingBoing.

pedisedate

PediSedate is a medical device consisting of a colorful, toy-like headset that connects to a game component such as the Nintendo Game Boy system or a portable CD player. Once the child places it on his or her head and swings the snorkel down from its resting place atop the head, PediSedate transparently monitors respiratory function and distributes nitrous oxide, an anesthetic gas. The child comfortably becomes sedated while playing with a Nintendo Game Boy system or listening to music. This dramatically improves the hospital or dental experience for the child, parents and healthcare providers.

Let’s for a second set aside the chills I’m getting thinking about sedating a child playing a Game Boy… should medical professionals be aligning anesthetics and video games?  I understand sometimes it is hard for kids to sit still at the dentist’s office, which was why they’ve offered Highlights magazines and old puzzles and toys, but has this gone a step too far??  Having gone through my fair share of childhood medical issues, I had the support of my family in the room, got through it and then we went for ice cream.

Going to the doctor or dentist wasn’t supposed to be fun.  If you were there, you had a problem.  If they’re sedating you, it’s more than just a run-of-the-mill cold.  I don’t know, maybe because I don’t have children I can’t empathize with the stress a parent feels, but doctor or parent, your functions should be to support the child.  Not knock them out while you distract them with a game of Mario Brothers.

This creeps me out and I think it is seriously controversial.  I am honestly quite outraged.  Is this a joke?  Seriously, Ashton Kutcher – are you out there somewhere??

Mommy [Daddy] Bloggers Know Best

I came across this blog today from Mortlemania.  Such an interesting read.  The title of the post is, “If you want smart kids, show them your smartphone.”

As many of the blog postings on this site refer back to iPhone applications and other mobile technologies, consider a dad’s perspective on teaching his trying-to-avoid-bedtime daughter about mosquitos from his iPhone.  Dad is proud of teaching his daughter how a mosquito sucks your blood as well as the difference between Google, You Tube, and Wikipedia (not to mention their corresponding icons).

Dad says in response to those against the advancements of digital technology in kids’ lives,

With appropriate parental guidance, the web in your pocket is your kids’ gateway to all of the world’s knowledge, achievement, creativity, aspiration and inspiration.

As long as we steer children in a way that stimulates both their curiosity and confidence – today’s technology can help bring about a future where human beings are not only better informed, but better equipped to meet the huge social and environmental challenges facing the planet.

How’s that for a bedtime story?

Happy 20th Birthday Game Boy!

Today, April 21 marks the 20th anniversary of the original launch of Nintendo’s Game Boy!  From Tetris and Super Mario Brothers to Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS, like a fine wine, some things just get better with age!

gameboy_original

Sony Says Let There Be Video Games

Directly contradicting the research that says 8.5% of kids are video game addicts, Sony Online Entertainment says “Let the Kids Game” via a parental guide.

A family guide to video games, What They Play,

Is the parents guide to video games. As the most comprehensive resource of its kind, What They Play provides parents with expert insight into the themes and content of hundreds of today’s most popular interactive entertainment products. Through thousands of informative video game descriptions and topical feature articles, What They Play empowers parents with everything they need to know to make informed decisions about what games are right for their children.

what-they-play1

So if parents think they’re out of the loop, or are concerned about their kids’ gaming habits – rather than think the worst, do some research.  Clearly Sony Online Entertainment has a vested interest in keeping you around.

Video Game Addicts

A study out of Iowa State University by Douglas Gentile has found that 8.5% of US youth (8 to 18 years) are “addicted” to video games.  Evaluative questions were part of a 2007 Harris Poll survey of 1,178 children and teens.

“For some kids, they play in such a way that it becomes out of balance. And they’re damaging other areas of their lives, and it isn’t just one area, it’s many areas,” said Gentile, a psychologist and assistant professor whose study was posted online today by the journal Psychological Science.

To be considered an addict, gamers had to display six of 11 symptoms, including:

  • Spending increasing amounts of time and money on video games to feel the same level of excitement
  • Irritability or restlessness when play is scaled back
  • Escaping problems through play
  • Skipping chores or homework to spend more time at the controller
  • Lying about the length of playing time
  • Stealing games or money to play more

“It’s not that the games are bad,” said Gentile, who is also director of research at the nonprofit National Institute on Media and the Family. “It’s not that the games are addictive. It’s that some kids use them in a way that is out of balance and harms various other areas of their lives.”

Of all the nation’s children, 88% or 45 million play video games.  Therefore, according to Gentile,  3 million are addicted to video games.

Though, not all experts agree with Gentile.

“I think kids use this just the way kids watch television, the way kids now use their cellphones,” said Michael Brody, chairman of the media committee of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. “They do it to relieve their anxiety and depression. It’s all a matter of balance.”

I read this and think about the commercials from when I was a little kid, about “This is Your Brain on Drugs.  Any questions?”  It had a fried egg sizzling in a pan.  I thought it was a scary commercial, and it frankly made me not want to eat eggs anymore.
Is this study a scare tactic, like “This is Your Brain on Drugs” – or are 3 million kids really addicted to video games?  Are skipping chores the signs of an addict, or a kid who would rather do anything than wash the dishes?  Is escapism through video games any different than escapism through books?  Would we ever criticize a child for being addicted to reading or spending too much time with a book?

I wonder about this study… when “This is Your Brain on Drugs” finished frying up an egg and asked “any questions” – I’d like to raise my hand now, and pose a few to Mr. Gentile.

The Changing Face of Technology

This weekend, I was out with my younger sister and her friends.  Over a few cocktails, the group got into a heated conversation about a recent story of an 18 year old teenage boy being charged with possessing child porn and who will carry the term “sex offender” until he is 43 years old, all after “sexting” indecent photos of his ex-girlfriend to friends.  Regardless of how you feel about the charges, I personally think its scary to categorize these children in the same class as predatory monsters, but regardless – is the law too outdated for technology?  Are kids more sophisticated than the law allows?

Not that I am excusing this behavior, at all, but could this be the modern day way of teasing, bullying, and more?  Because information is easily transmissible and easily accessible, is it too easy for kids to mass humiliate each other and violate privacy?  At what point do we need to be honest with politicians and ourselves, and say, “This is wrong.  But these kids aren’t criminals.  They’re just dumb kids.”