have you ever thought “Well, at least they’re not gaming here in the (car,
restaurant, doctor’s office, bathroom, …)!”
Kiss that thought good bye. Maybe you’ve heard of or have a Nintendo Switch. It’s built to be portable, but mostly people still hook it to their TVs. However, Nintendo is about to release its Nintendo Lite. It cost $100 less, and it’s really meant to be portable. It doesn’t hook to your TV and it maintain’s its high graphic quality on the go.
But now you’re thinking, “Well, what’s wrong with that? Mario Bros.? Zelda? Donkey King?”
Nintendo has that game?
did hear? Nintendo is growing up. Yes, that’s right. Nintendo now has games on the
Switch like Batman, L. A. Noire, Doom and Skyrim. All dark cop or monster type
games. And they even have South Park: The Fractured But Whole. Want your kid walking around Wendy’s
repeating lines from that TV show?
course, you don’t have to buy those games for them. But see our other gaming
blogs to learn how easy it is for kids to get games.
The New Switch Lite
So how does the Switch Lite differ from the regular Switch? As well as being smaller, it is lighter, has a more traditional directional pad, has a slightly longer battery life, and does not have the HD rumble or IR features. It will come in new shades of yellow, grey, and turquoise. The Switch does use cartridges but it can also download games straight onto the system from the Nintendo E-shop. The Lite will be available worldwide September 20th this year.
It’s important to recognize that these systems have far higher fidelity graphics than even a decade ago. You’ll want to set up the parental controls on your child’s Switch in order to limit what your child is able to play or see.
And remember, the trend of high-quality 3D games being played on the go is not going to stop – it is only going to grow.
Picture-perfect food, beaches, boats, vacation photos, selfies… All of these flood social media. They portray
a perfect life – that no one possesses!
The pressure to look and feel perfect is higher than ever
before. Everyone can fake their lives. And shove it in everybody else’s faces. You
know all of this isn’t the real truth. But does your adolescent?
Most Influential: Social Media
There’s your child, scrolling through Instagram, Twitter,
Facebook or any other social media platform. They find numerous accounts and
pictures of people with perfect bodies at perfect places posing perfectly. Celebrities
and influencers getting paid to post picture-perfect content.
But do you compare yourself to these images? Doesn’t it make it easier to see the flaws you have? Young girls and boys are extremely susceptible to this. Phys.org reports “teens who reported posting more pictures on social media, had a heightened awareness of their appearance, which was related to feeling more negative about their body.” The more time a teen spends online, the more likely they are to have a negative body image.
But you and I know the pictures that flood social media are unnatural
in pose and quality. No one has perfect skin or a perfect figure. “Fitspiration”
accounts, designed to promote one fitness expert over another, can influence
adolescences to create unhealthy eating habits and extreme exercise regimes.
Fashion models post about their “everyday” life and young minds tend to wonder
why their life is not like that. The standard that is being held up to your
child is unrealistic. One natural outcome is bad feelings about their body, and
How to Help
There is help out there. Psychologytoday.com offers an acronym to help teach your child about this aspect of the media.
F – Filter out content that makes them feel negative in
A – Avoid letting them spend all their time on social media.
C – Careful of comparing others lives to how their life is
E – Evaluate what the differences are between real and fake
It is important to teach your children that real life is not supposed to look perfect. Real life is beautiful in its own, unique way. It is different for everyone. Being comfortable with the way you look with today’s Internet is hard. However, for your child’s sake, teach them that everyone is perfect in their own way, on both the inside and outside.
Have you checked out your local Parent Teacher Association (PTA), or maybe the national PTA website? I recently had the chance to observe an excellent “Digital Families Community Event” held locally by the local PTA president, Kammi Cooper.
Kammi’s PTA Program for Horace Mann Elementary School
The program was provided by the National PTA, but tailored to the local community. It was interactive and fun for the kids and very informative for the parents. The families got to talk about screen time, creating and sharing passwords, favorite apps and social media sites, and what to share and not to share on the Internet.
Kammi was able to put on such an excellent program because she attended a PTA conference and was awarded a small grant to make this program happen. However, you don’t have to wait to benefit from the wonderful resources the National PTA has put together. I went to their website and clicked on the “Family Resources” and then “Digital Safety” buttons.
There I learned that the PTA has multiple programs sponsored by such Internet powerhouses as Google, Facebook, and AT&T. I particularly liked one called “Smart Talk” put together by LifeLock.
The Smart Talk Program
It is an online learning module you can do with your kid. It helps
you answer questions such as:
How much screen time is appropriate?
How to determine who should “friend” or “follow” your account?
When to share photos or videos online?
How to respond to negative comments or posts on social media?
Whether to use location-based services on apps?
At the end, you can print out the decisions you’ve come to and have it as a record (or kind of contract between you and your kid.) I thought it was excellent!
Go Get More Information
Raising a kid in a digital world is tough. You want them (and you)
to be aware of how they spend online. You want them to be mindful of their
online presence and footpring.
Check out your local PTA and see if they are hosting any of these
programs. If they aren’t, why not initiate one yourself?
And keep learning. This isn’t the exact same world you grew up in!
Maybe what you don’t know are all the harmful products and practices that are popping up on your teen’s social media timeline as a result.
The big player in this game is Instagram. It works well for the influencers (and companies) because of its flashy pictures and cleverly worded captions. It screams “if you use this product, you too can have an Instagram profile as flashy or a body as perfect” as this person.
Well, Instagram recently released some news. And this going to 100 percent affect your kids.
Soon you and your kids will see more influencers that you aren’t even following. That’s because soon brands will be allowed to promote their influencers’ posts and project them onto the screens of the young and impressionable.
In a way, this is nothing new. Instagram already has sponsored posts that show up on your feed in between pictures of your friend’s cat and your coworker’s beach vacation. But now these will be labeled “paid partnership.”
Hey, we know you’re already worried about the kind of material your kid/pre-teen is taking in when they spend hours upon hours in front of their cell phones. So here’s a quick list of some products and ideas that have shown up on your kid’s timeline because of influencers.
Flat Tummy Tea
As the name suggests, this company wants you to believe that by drinking this tea, you will lose weight quickly and easily. A few of the Kardashians have come under fire lately for promoting this product. The company sells lollipops, shakes, and supplements as well as tea.
At this point, many experienced social media users know that Flat Tummy Tea is not only not effective, but it’s dangerous and unhealthy, but these are high school and college students. Younger kids may not be up on this kind of promotion. I think the products either “curb hunger” or “help with digestion,” which means to me maybe they make you sick.
Many influencers don’t actually try the product. They just post a picture with a caption that the company told them to include. Read more about Flat Tummy Tea’s Instagram empire here.
See also: any product that claims
to be healthy while making you cut weight crazy fast.
YouTuber Logan Paul visiting a
Japanese suicide forest
Yes, you read that correctly. Logan Paul posted a YouTube video of himself in the Aokigahara. This is a forest in Japan where many people go to take their lives. Regretably, he showed a body he had come across while filming.
When wildfires broke out in
California, many influencers took to social media to send “thoughts and prayers”
to those affected.
While the captions might have matched the situation, some of the photographs definitely didn’t, such as selfies or perfectly posed, professional photographer pictures. It was a way for the influencers to stay on top of a trending topic while also gaining likes from being “sympathetic.”
So what can you do?
Research. If your teen wants to buy something that they saw promoted on social media, do your own investigation before purchasing. Look up reviews. If it’s something that will be ingested, like a supplement or diet tea, check the ingredients and find out what’s really in it. Also, look for any possible side effects.
Talk. Ask your kid what kinds of things they’re seeing on social media. How do they feel about them? Do they think the influencer actually uses the product or just gets paid to post about it? Open up the conversation so they know that those influencer reviews aren’t always truthful or thorough.
Be present on social media. Not in a snooping way. But it won’t hurt to make your own account just so you know what’s going on in that social media universe. Follow news stations. Follow celebrities. Get a glimpse of what your teen is seeing on their screen.
I first came across Barstool Sports during my freshman year of college. Thankfully it was then, and not sooner.
Parents, while you may not know very much about Barstool Sports, you may have come across their logo (seen above). Maybe you’ve seen their memes, like “Saturdays are For the Boys.” (By the way, that slogan is so popular, Barstool’s founder, Dave Portnoy, trademarked the slogan in 2016. At one point he even threatened to sue the NFL because “they jacked our slogan” when they used a similar phrase on a t-shirt design. Story is here.)
What is “Barstool Sports”?
Barstool started as a print publication in 2003. Then it focused on gambling advise and fantasy football projections. However, it was relaunched in 2007 as an internet blog that Portnoy filled with entertaining content that some found to be “rude, crude, sexist and often mean-spirited,” said Entrepreneur contributor Jason Ankeny in this article.
After selling a majority stake to the Chermin Group in 2016, the company continued to make headlines. Despite a controversy around a 2010 blog written by Portnoy that purportedly encouraged a “rape culture”, and hosting “Blackout Tour” parties in Boston where they were accused of promoting and allowing excessive and underage drinking, Barstool didn’t stop exploding.
So, ESPN jumped on the bandwagon. In October of 2017 they debuted “Barstool Van Talk”. However, the show was cancelled after its first episode because several employees, including NFL Live host Samantha Ponder, pushed for the show to be cancelled.
Are they important?
To be fair, the company does promote some charitable causes. It helped raise $250,000 after the Boston Marathon bombings. It teamed up with a Cleveland Browns quarterback last year to benefit Special Olympics Ohio.
Currently Barstool ranks number 4,700 in global internet engagement websites according to Alexa. This means it sure is popular.
The real issue is not whether the content is in poor taste or even rude, but rather what does this content mean for your kids, especially boys? Many argue this site finds it acceptable and even encourages vulgar behavior. It personally reminds me of a 6th year fraternity brother who lacks respect for women and any authority. Is this what you want your kid exposed to?
Here’s my problem…
And though Barstool, I argue, certainly fosters just plain old traditional problems, like sexism and binge drinking, it’s also big on the new problems, like vaping. In fact, Barstool Sports blogger and personality Tommy Smokes appeared on Fox News last year supporting the overwhelming favorite vaping device for teens, JUUL. (See our recent blog post here about vaping and your kid.)
Hey, the world is full of digital
influencers. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t evaluate some of them and help
your kid make intelligent choices. Sure, Barstool might be fun for some grown
up men – though I’m not endorsing it.
But you may want to keep your kid off of the “barstool” until they get
some real life experiences under their belt. I mean, you don’t HAVE to act like
a jerk just because you watch something on TV, the movies or the Internet. But
if you watch it nearly every day? And your buddies are all watching it? And no
one tells you not to?
You may know that video
game consoles are not the only machines that games can be played on. PCs and
Mac computers can also play many of the same games available on PlayStation or
Xbox. However, the most popular places to buy games for computers are not the
typical places that you might know. Over the past decade, gamers like myself
have purchased thousands, if not millions of games through the online game
distribution service known as Steam. Steam is owned by video game publisher and
developer Valve and is the primary source of game purchases for the PC or Mac.
When I was 12 years old, I
would chat with friends on Steam’s voice chat system late into the night. I had
my own account and my parents had no idea what Steam was. I asked for gift
cards and bought games to play with my friends. This included mature games that
I would have had to show ID for if I were buying it at GameStop. So, this is
something you’re going to have to look out for.
Steam is not only home to AAA (big budget and marketed video games like Call of Duty or Madden) but also independent video games – indies for short. Indie games are usually made by smaller, lesser-known developers They like having full control over their games and don’t have any need for a big publisher if they sell directly on Steam. Steam is popular because it has a wide variety of game types. Some of these are exclusively sold on Steam. But through just Steam these developers can reach thousands and thousands of players.
Steam and “indie” games
However, if you purchase an indie game, there is a risk. These games can be crass, crude, or a variety of other things not appropriate for a pre-teen/teen. However, indie games can also be some of the most creative and imaginative games on the market. I think you’ll have to do some research on each game before you decide if you want your kid to purchase. Though not all of these games show up on the ESRB rating system (see our blog about that system here), Steam does have it’s own rating system. It requires extensive vetting of both the game itself and the intentions of the developer. This means each developer has to explain the type of content that the game will contain. Steam/Valve then places a specific age rating on the game when it releases. Steam restricts access to these games by asking the user to verify their age. Truthfully, it’s not too hard to lie at this step. (Though I’ve read that Steam will track if the user is under 18 and will block any further attempts at accessing games of that nature. I don’t know how it does this.)
As I mentioned, Steam has chat functions, friend lists and other social functions that can connect users worldwide. However, these options do not have explicit parental controls. Even on games with age restrictions, these functions might still work.
Thankfully, Steam does have a parental control you can put on your account called “Family View”. There are step-by-step guides for parents to follow when accessing this feature. From Family View, parents can set parameters for the content their child can access. This includes specific items like gore or violence, games with chat functionality, profile pages, access to the game catalog, and much more. You can even use the Family Game Library to restrict access to specific games for your kid to play on that account. Each of these features is PIN protected.
The Epic game store
Steam is not the only place PC and Mac games are distributed. Last year, Fortnite developer Epic Games created the Epic Games Store, a platform similar to Steam but without a lot of the social media and chatting features that Steam possesses.
The reason I even bring up the Epic Games Store is that if your tween plays Fortnite on a computer, they already have the store installed as well. Epic included the store with the launcher for the game.
The Epic Games Store has no parental controls whatsoever. There is no way to keep your kid from accessing a mature game. However, there is a significant difference in the availability of games on the platform. There are less than a hundred games up for purchase on the Epic Games Store and many of those are still not available to play yet. However, Epic has offers for free games twice a month, giving access to potentially inappropriate games at no cost to your pre-teen/teen.
Also, every game on the
platform has an ESRB classification. This means Epic doesn’t have a rating
system…yet. In order to protect your kid from playing a game you feel
inappropriate, it is best to view more information about the game yourself like
you would if they were buying it in a store.
So, my recommendation is
to get the “Family View” account set up before you let your kid get on Steam,
do not give them gift cards or a credit card to make their own purchases (you
should purchase each game individually), and monitor their use of the social media
functions of Steam. If they are purchasing through Epic there are not as many
indie or mature games (yet), but you will still want to monitor every purchase.
If you do all of this,
you should be good. And, hopefully, you’ll join in on the games. Video game
playing can be a great way to bond with your kid. But more on that another day.
School events. Sports. Concerts. Church. Socializing.
Lots to do. It can seem pretty stressful sometimes. You’re
running them around. Maybe you’re feeling you don’t have any real quality time
So, have you considered a family game night?
My Family Game Nights
I grew up in a very rural area. Hardly any neighbors. This meant no other kids
close by I could play with. So my family and I ended up pretty close.
When we weren’t running around for school functions and
sports, we would sometimes have family game night. Turns out, these were my
favorite nights. Dad might teach us how to play poker or other card games.
Maybe we’d break out an old board game like “The Game of Life”. Sometimes we’d
play Wii sports games or Xbox Kinect games. If you don’t know, these are games
where you actually get up off the couch and pretend to play ping pong or throw
a bowling ball. We were very competitive, but playing these games was always
fun. And it created a bond between us that I think will last forever.
Benefits of Family
Others have talked about the benefits of a family game night. This article at Www.cbc.ca talks about family game night can teach good sportsmanship. No one really stays mad at a family for every long, and Mom and Dad are always there to role model how to be a good loser. You also learn how to take turns and follow rules. Sometimes you get to practice an actual skill.
The article also says you can work on your communication
skills, and perhaps even negotiation skills. You should see the wheeling and
dealing we do playing Monopoly. And of, some games require cooperation and
I think all of these are important to learn at a young age.
You’ll use them over and over and family game night was one of the most
enjoyable time I had while building stronger relationships with my family.
Family Game Night
If you’re stuck on what kind of games to play, here’s a brief list from Www.today.com. It includes classic boards games al the way to video games. Some of them are actually quite recent. Some of their picks include:
The Game of Life
What Do You Meme?
I also recommend the “get off the couch” video games that come with PlayStation, Xbox, or Wii. Coommonsensemedia.org has a list of family video games and includes things like “Family Game Night: The Game Show”, “Hidden Folks”, “Trivial Pursuit”, “Wii Sports”, “Disneyland Adventures”, “Just Dance”, “Guitar Hero”, and many more.
Lastly, if you’re looking for more active games, and ones
that you may be able to conjure up from items laying around the house, consider
“Minute To Win It Games”. This was a popular TV show, but now refers to a while
category of games that are fun and can be completed in a minute or less. A
quick Google search can provide you with a list of “Minute To Win It Games”
with instructions and videos. Of course, don’t forget the old classics “Twister”,
“Nerf Gun Battles” and “Legos”.
I think you’ll enjoy family game night. Give a few tries, however. If you haven’t done it before, it will take some experimentation to figure out your own “house rules”. You’ll see what I mean. Enjoy!
Everyone experiences stress, and each person deals with it in his or her own way. But does your tween know how to handle the stresses of life?
Stress is how the body responds to
outside factors. This can be any kind of decision your body has to make.
We often think of stress as the way we feel when our boss hands us a large number of tasks to get done in a short period of time, or when we have to get our house cleaned before guests arrive. It’s overwhelming, frustrating, and overall exhausting.
So how does your tween deal with the stress in their lives?
Homework. Tests. Maintaining
relationships. Any kind of pressures.
They feel it, too. So it’s
important to talk with your tween to make sure they have healthy coping
mechanisms for tough times.
Here are some ways to help your tween manage stress.
Understand how their bodies react to stress.
This could be increased heart rate,
inability to focus, difficulty sleeping, etc. These factors can be extremely
counterproductive to dealing with whatever is causing the stress in the first
place. Knowing the signs of stress on the body ahead of time can help them
process the situation.
Help them know what is in their control and what isn’t.
Putting off that paper until the last minute will only lead to a stressful night, but planning to get it done ahead of the due date will provide time to go over it again and not worry. Free time is necessary to relax so the body can deal with conflict when it arises. If your tween can control what’s in their schedule, evaluate with them whether they are taking on more activities than they can handle.
Practice positive talk.
Stress can lead to negative self-talk, such as talking down to oneself and telling yourself you aren’t good enough. It leads to convincing yourself you aren’t capable of finishing it and can hinder your productivity for a decent amount of time. If this seems like a lot for an adult, think of how it is for a tween.
Find a relaxing activity.
One thing I’ve learned from my mom is that exercising and getting fresh air helps me get out of my head and get back to rational thinking. When I would get overwhelmed with work or overthink a situation, she would go on a walk around the block with me and talk things out. I could get out of my room and into a new environment, and it always left me in a better state of mind to take on my problem. You could try activities like exercising, meditation, listening to music, stepping away from the cause of stress for a little, taking deep breaths, etc.
One thing to remember is that the biggest way your tween learns how to handle difficult situations is by watching you.
So what do you do? Curse at it and
yell? Or problem solve in a calm manner?
In a world where technology is supposedly making learning “better and better”, is it “better” if every quiz and test is suddenly “easier”?
Welcome to the new world of online test help – the free app Quizlet.
It’s an app initially created to
allow students to study items with online flash cards. It now also has a
variety of learning tools and games.
But Quizlet is today so much more
than a study aid. It’s actually one of the easiest ways to cheat on a quiz ever
But is it popular? Does my kid even know about it? Yes. If not now, then soon. Quizlet itself says more than two-thirds of high school students and one half of undergraduate students use Quizlet.
I first heard about Quizlet my senior year in high school. My accounting teacher told me a fellow classmate of mine had put all of the vocabulary cards on Quizlet. She said I could use it to study if I wanted to. I didn’t. I preferred old fashioned paper back then.
But once I got to college my use of
Quizlet changed dramatically. Suddenly it seemed whenever I couldn’t find the
answer to just about any general question, from any class, I could find it on
Quizlet. From “Intro to Theater” to “Chemistry For Everyone”, Quizlet always
had my back.
What is Quizlet?
So, a guy named Andrew
Sutherfurland made Quizlet back in 2005. I’m sure he never imagined it would
become as big as it is. Quizlet was originally just a site for virtual
flashcards. Like the classic paper flashcards, these cards have two sides; one
side with a term or a question and the other side with the answer.
After creating the cards, you could
just test yourself or play a game like Match and Gravity.
Quizlet recently expanded by introducing Quizlet Diagrams and Quizlet Learn. Quizlet Diagrams is exactly as it sounds; diagrams that help you study. Quizlet Learn is powered by Quizlet’s new learning assistant platform that helps create an individualized study plan for each student. For more information about Quizlet try this Wikipedia link, or the Quizlet website.
How does Quizlet help enable cheating?
After you make a set of cards you make them public. Most students seem to do this. However, most students simply re-type the questions they see in the book or get handed back to them on quizzes or tests.
Because the Quizlet items are public, when a different student types that exact question into a Google search bar, the Quizlet card, or an entire deck of cards, comes up. Click on the link and suddenly you’re on Quizlet with lots of potential cards that match your search phrase. If the page is long, then most student’s know they can simply hit Control+F (on PC) and Command+F (On Mac). It searches for the first word of the question on the page and takes you right to the answer you want, bypassing all the other cards with ease.
Is this a real problem? Institutions of higher education think so. Read this link article about how rampant Quizlet cheating is. Warning: 12 students got suspended from college in this article.
What can you do?
As a parent obviously you want your kid to learn, not cheat. I would suggest monitoring their homework activities. Are they doing their homework with their phone or a computer out? If so, how are they using it?
Also, maybe have a conversation
about the value of a true education. Explain that it will eventually catch up
to them if they are the kid that didn’t learn the content and other kids did.
And, finally, talk about ethics.
There is such a thing as a “slippery slope.” If you become comfortable cheating
in this way, won’t it be easier for you to let yourself cheat in a different
way, maybe on something more serious?
I wish you good luck parenting.
Your kid’s world is not the same world you grew up in.