When I hear MTV television shows, I usually think of reality television shows like “Jersey Shore” and “Teen Mom.”
What I don’t think of, and what I don’t think many people think of, are honest and serious shows with an in-depth look into real life.
MTV’s new four-part show, “16 and Recovering,” details the struggles and hardships of teenage addiction, and how parents and caretakers can effectively help teens with addiction.
I think that parents and teens should all sit down and watch this mini-series, whether its together or separately.
The show takes place at Northshore Recovery High School in Massachusetts, where the MTV film crew, including award-winning director Steve Liss, was given an inside look into the lives of teens with addiction, their families and their teachers.
The founder of Northshore, Michelle Lipinski, is not only the school principal but a confidant, friend and even loved one to all of the students. The students not only trust Lipinski but all of the staff at Northshore. They share their struggles, secrets and hardships with the staff members, as they would close friends.
The teachers and caretakers at Northshore don’t punish students when they relapse or make a mistake. They just express their support and love for their students and encourage them back onto the right path.
I think that the way the Northshore staff handles teen addiction is a perfect model for how parents and caretakers everywhere should handle their own teens who may be struggling. By showing only love and support, with no anger or strong discipline, the kids feel like they can always be honest with them, rather than fear them and hide their wrongdoings.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Lipinski spoke about how she did not wish for the camera crew to record the students using any drugs. She said that the show is about teenage recovery, not the drug use.
The show also shows how mental illness and addiction go hand in hand. In one scene, a student named Alba says how depression and addiction go together like “cheese and crackers.” Many of the students struggle with mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, on top of the addictions.
While the series shows how the support and love of family and caretakers can help struggling youth addicts, it doesn’t hide the fact that some teens end up giving in to their addiction and are unable to survive because of it.
MTV hopes to lead the change in the entertainment industry when it comes to depicting mental illness on screen.
The show has four parts, each airing Tuesday evenings at 9 pm on MTV. The first episode aired on September 1.
If your kids are like me and many others, their addiction to the social media video app, TikTok, has tremendously grown since the beginning of quarantine.
TikTok has been all over the news lately, due to the fact that President Trump plans to ban the app because of its connection to China and its government. More recently he has asked that its U.S. assets be sold to a U.S. company. In the past few days, news has been announced that TikTok is now planning to sue the Trump administration because of all this.
TikTok is an app filled with different kinds of short videos including content such as dancing, baking, crafting, pranking, etc. Many kids are very fond of the dancing videos, following popular Tiktokers like Addison Rae, and, Charli and Dixie D’Amelio.
While dance videos aren’t necessarily inappropriate content, some of the Tiktokers and the dances they come up with are provocative and can send the wrong message to kids.
After these TikTok influencers come up with a new dance, it has the possibility to go viral and be recreated by millions. Kids and teens love to recreate the dance videos made by their favorite TikTok dancers. They post these recreation videos and tag their favorite dance TikToker to try to also become as popular as them.
An example of a new TikTok dance challenge that is not exactly appropriate is the “WAP” dance. This dance became a viral sensation on TikTok after the release of the song “WAP” by Cardi B and Megan the Stallion. I’m not comfortable telling you what “WAP” means in this blog. You’ll have to Google it.
The lyrics of the song are very raunchy, overly sexual and the context of the song is not something that parents might want their kids listening to. The dance involves lots of twerking, simulated sex acts, high kicks and a split.
The dance is not exactly safe either. One person ended up in the hospital after attempting the dance. This Tiktoker landed on her knee while attempting the dance and had to have her knee popped back into place.
An article in Vice, by Rachel Miller, details how to talk to your children about what the song stands for. She consults Erin Harper, a nationally certified school psychologist, assistant professor of psychology at Texas A&M and author of Dear Mom, You Don’t Get to Have Nice Things.
In the article Miller and Harper discuss how with adolescents and older kids, the song can actually spark a conversation between parent and child about sexuality and having the freedom to express yourself and to be proud of your body.
Overall, it’s up to the parents to decide what is appropriate or not for their kids’ ears. Even though the song can be a gateway to an open and honest conversation, some parents might not want their kids hearing the lyrics in general.
For younger children, they say that they might be too young to discuss the sexual language and content in the song. Instead, they say parents should tell their kids that the song is “about women who are feeling strong and happy.”
Overall, it’s up to the parents to decide what is appropriate or not for their kids’ ears. Even though the song can be a gateway to an open and honest conversation, some parents might not want their kids hearing the lyrics in general.
Growing up, sports were an escape for me. I both played and watched many of them.
However, as I’ve aged, I’ve begun to realize how many issues there can be in the sports world. Players who I once considered role-models sometimes get arrested. Owners, who I’ve spent countless hours and money supporting, get in trouble for all kinds of reasons.
Many of these leagues have lost fans and revenue due to different issues. And many are just barely starting back again, due to COVID-19.
However, one sport is seeing a comeback in a major way – The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR).
NASCAR and the Drivers
NASCAR, founded in 1948, was getting increasingly popular in the 2000s when I was growing up. But the sport lost some of its popularity, I believe, when some of its most-popular drivers retired, such as Dale Earnhardt Jr. and my favorite driver, Jeff Gordon.
Recently, there have been some new faces, like Chase Elliott, son of NASCAR Hall-of-Famer Bill Elliott, and Ryan Blaney, also the son of a Hall of Famer. I think these have attracted some new fans to the sport, but according to many sources, NASCAR ratings have still been in decline.
But that was before COVID-19.
NASCAR surges ahead during COVID-19
Because NASCAR drivers race in separate cars, it was the first sport in the U.S. that was able to successfully resume competitions during the pandemic. And because it was trying to make up for lost time, many of the races were scheduled for Wednesday evening, in addition to the normal Sunday afternoon race.
It probably helped NASCAR that many other live sports have been shut down over the last few months, but I don’t think that is the whole story. For example, in May, Darrell (Bubba) Wallace, the sport’s only back driver, worked together with NASCAR to ban confederate flags from NASCAR races. People had been attempting to do this for years. Since then, Bubba has become a sports icon and has opened up NASCAR to a whole new generation of fans.
Why Do I recommend Your Teen Watch NASCAR?
I think one of the biggest benefits of watching NASCAR is the education. While these race cars are not exactly the same as the street-legal car you have in your garage, many of the concepts used in the sport are also true on the street.
I think kids could learn a lot about tire wear, fuel mileage and even some physics, just from spending a Sunday watching a race. It can possibly make them a more aware and responsible driver by the time they turn 16.
And while it’s unlikely your teen is going to be the next great NASCAR driver, there are many other career paths through the sport, such as engineering, mechanics and broadcasting that could pique your teen’s interest and lead them down a great career path.
Like any professional sport, sometimes tempers flare in the heat of completion. However, in NASCAR, there is never a lack of respect among not just the drivers for one another, but to the crew chief all the way down to the pit crew. While only one driver wins each race, most when interviewed always talk about what they learned from that race. And they always show their respect for the winner.
Regrettably, there was an incident recently that challenged the entire culture of NASCAR. A noose was found in Bubba Wallace’s garage before the June 22 race at Talladega. What happened after that, however, was the best of NASCAR. The next day all of the drivers came together and pushed his car to the front of the pack during the pre-race. They showed their support for who is he and made it clear he was absolutely, 100% welcome in their sport. It created a sign of togetherness and acceptance, and was well covered by the national media.
Fun and bonding with a parent
As I mentioned before, sports were an escape for me as a kid. NASCAR was no exception. I still remember watching amazing races with my stepfather growing up. It helped us bond and created many lasting memories
NASCAR continues its fun outside of Sundays (and Wednesdays). There are, of course, video games, but also die-cast and matchbox cars that let kids feel like they’re apart of the sport.
Overall, I believe that NASCAR is a fun sport that allows your kid to learn new skills and gain new experiences all from the safety of their living room. Give NASCAR a try. I’m very glad I did.
The Electronic Software Association considers video games a stress reliever for all ages, though some are still skeptical. Many who are not immersed in the gaming world only hear about the violent, shoot-‘em-up type of games. But recent years new games and new game character type have emerged. And studies are showing that these innovative games can be a new way to treat mental disorders. In fact, later in this article I’ll introduce the first game to be approved by the FDA to help with ADAD. Fur first, let’s talk about the new character types that are representing real life, including mental health issues, in a new way.
New Mental Health Characters
It’s true that previous games depicted characters with mental illness as either comedy or horror types (see Outlast or Borderlands). However, the gaming industry has moved past this way of thinking. Allow me to introduce you to Celeste. On the surface, Celeste is a platform-type game. In this game you have to overcome a series of challenging obstacles by jumping and climbing (think Super Mario Brothers). However, in this story there is a young woman named Madeline.
Madeline has an anxiety disorder. Throughout the game, you see her character experience panic attacks. When this happens, the music becomes sinister and the environment gets darker. She also starts to breath heavy and begin to shake. Although this is a 2D animated character, and very much a game, this is an experience many people have had in real life, including myself.
Having a character such as this has given me the sense that others might be able to feel or know what I have experienced. That representation is important for anyone, but I think it’s especially important for kids growing up. I grew up with and still have depression and mild anxiety. Certain things can trigger panic attacks for me, in addition to the depressive episodes I have where it feels like the weight of the ocean is on my body. Seeing a character in this game who is overcoming a mental barrier just as much as a physical one is very rewarding and comforting to me.
Seeing Someone Like Me
One outcome of this is I think it helped me understand that I needed to be the one to make the changes in my life if I wanted to feel better. I think these games can help children and teenagers figure out things about themselves. Maybe it’s easier to see what you are going through once you project your problems onto a character you are playing. But, fortunately, the game is also still fun to play!
Other games are also depicting real life mental health issues. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice puts you in the shoes of a woman who has a psychosis. Sea of Solitude looks at depression in a metaphorical way as inside a woman’s mind. Arise: A Simple Story is about a man dealing with grief and depression. Auti-Sim places you in the shoes of someone with autism. Each of these games is a way for players, both with and without mental illness, to understand a bit more about others and themselves.
Video Games are Helping with Mental Issues
Recently, games have been built specifically to treat people with mental health problems. For example, EndeavorRX, is the first FDA approved video game that is targeted toward children eight to 12 with ADHD. Studies show that one in three patients who play the game for 25 minutes a day for a week can reduce their attention deficit problems for up to a month (compared to those who did not play). Note, the developers and the doctors who helped with testing both say the game is a supplement to therapy and other medications, not a replacement. But it is widely encouraging that we’ve come this far. You can sign-up for their newsletter to find out when the game will be available at https://www.akiliinteractive.com/get-endeavor
I wanted to write about this topic for parents who may have children with mental illnesses because it is hard to truly understand what someone is going through when they say they have depression or anxiety. Games like these can help everyone understand what your child is going through, or even help treat their symptoms.
Games for Change
If you want to learn more about games like these, I suggest visiting Games for Change. Games for Change is a non-profit that helps bring attention to games like these I’ve mentioned. It also helps produce them by working with developers.
You can also take a look at The Insight Project, a collaboration between Hellblade developer Ninja Theory and Professor Paul Fletcher of the University of Cambridge. The Insight Project’s goal is to create gaming media that helps alleviate mental distress.
I know many parents are worried about the negative effects of gaming on their kids. But it’s important to recognize that not all games are created equal. Do the research, set some boundaries, and I’m sure you’ll find that gaming can become a healthy part of your kid’s lives.
In this age of the internet, getting educated online is
nothing new. But while your students may be using Zoom or other video chat
services to connect with teachers during the ongoing pandemic, there are
several other ways to learn online.
What I am talking about are “skillsharing” sites like Udemy,
Skillshare and Masterclass. These websites offer paid classes that teach
everything from English to ethical computer hacking to everything in between. Many
of these sites have been around for several years, but they’ve jumped in
populating now that we’re all stuck at home. They’ve become places for people
to learn new skills and even start new careers – all without having to learn in
a face-to-face environment.
However, these sites are not all the same. I will analyze three
of the most popular sites for you, as well as suggest some exciting courses for
you or your kids to learn.
Udemy was founded back in 2009 and is the most popular of
the three by far. Udemy boasts over 150 thousand courses and millions of
students worldwide. Note, I believe all of the courses are done by taught by
volunteers, chosen because of their expertise or because of the reputation of
the company they come from.
For example, one of the classes I bought was for a C# coding
language course specifically for the Unity Game Engine. Unity is a free game
development software platform that offers tons of tools for users to build any
kind of game they want. However, many people, like me, don’t know where to
start in game design, let alone how to code or “script.”
This course taught me not only a beginner’s knowledge of how
to use the C# language but also basic game design. The instructors were
industry veterans for over a decade and they worked with Unity to deliver this
comprehensive course. Each lecture is broken up into several parts that I could
rewind or pause at anytime. I’ve been told that instructors at Udemy do go back
to older lessons and update them. They also provide material for students to
download and host open QA sessions for students that are having trouble. In
general, the community for each course is made up of students that can
communicate with each other and they help each other out as well. Udemy also offers a certificate of completion for
finishing a course.
The downside to Udemy, I think, is that each course is
volunteer taught, so, therefore, the results may vary. Some might be perfect, but
some might also need a lot more work. Fortunately, there is a rating system in place
for students to give feedback. It helps new users decide which courses are
trustworthy or not.
Pricing wise, the average course costs $200+ each. But,
Udemy hosts many sales that knock that price down to about $9.99. I suggest waiting for one of these sales and
buying multiple courses at once.
These classes are some of the best on the entire site. Many coding languages are available for purchase. Thousands of users have cited how easy it was to pick up and start coding with clear and concise instructions. Challenges in these courses are practically based and will push you to test what you’ve learned during a lecture. I highly recommend these classes for any age that wants to begin their journey into coding.
Masterclass is a newer site. Unlike Udemy that has volunteer
teaching, Masterclass has many known celebrities teaching classes in different subjects.
You can learn creative writing from Margaret Atwood, cooking from Gordon
Ramsey, or even filmmaking from Martin Scorsese.
Each lecture is about 10 minutes long and each class is at least 20 lessons long. However, to access any of the classes, you must buy an annual all-access pass for $180 a year. This gives you access to all of the instructors on the site at any time, but it is a bit steep considering there may only be a couple of instructors/courses in the topics you want.
I haven’t bought the pass, so I cannot recommend any of the
courses. However, Dr. Lauber says he has taken the Malcom Gladwell course on
writing and thoroughly enjoyed it. It wasn’t too advanced for anyone to take
and learn from it, but it did offer insights he had never heard – and he
teaches writing himself. I think it sounds enticing enough for me that I want
to try it out. But I’m waiting for a free trial to pop-up – it’s a little
beyond my college student budget.
SkillShare is a bit older than Udemy and is nearly as
popular. It offers many of the same things that Udemy does, but its course
library is more limited. The main difference is the price. SkillShare is
currently offering a free trial for a full month and users can purchase access
to all of the courses either monthly or annually. It is significantly cheaper
than Masterclass and costs either $100 a year or $15 a month.
I think the strengths of SkillShare are the writing and
practical skills courses. I would take advantage of the free month and find
some of the results for yourself. I would advise parents to take a look and see
if they can find a course they might want to take with their kids? Nothing says quality bonding time like
learning how to write a short story together!
Overall, any of these sites I think can be used to further someone’s
journey into education for a relatively low cost. If you would like to check out
any of the sites I mentioned the links are below.
As much as I hate to admit it, my daily screen usage has gone up significantly during quarantine.
Since we are all stuck inside most days, it’s likely that both you and your kids have also been on your devices more than usual. While this is completely understandable, most of what your kids may be viewing on their devices is probably not educational or brain-stimulating.
Instead of letting your kids stream TikTok videos, here are my top five things for your kids to watch:
Educational and fun YouTube series:
YouTube isn’t just cute and funny animal videos anymore; it now actually contains channels and show series that can be both fun and educational for your kids. One of my recent favorites is “Some Good News.” Started by actor and dad, John Krasinski, SGN is solely focused on providing happy, fun and good news to its viewers. John Krasinski brings some of his celebrity friends on each episode as well. Other shows I’d recommend on YouTube include The Brain Scoop, SoulPancake and Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls.
Aquarium and zoo live streams:
Many zoos and aquariums all around the country have begun to live stream their animals to show everyone at home how they are doing during this quarantine. The Houston Zoo is one of the most popular with its live streams of giraffes, elephants and more. They also have a Facebook Live series that includes videos of their animals, fun facts and even activities for you to complete at home with your kids. If your kids love sea creatures, the Monterey Bay Aquarium also has live streams as well as narrated feedings during the week.
Kennedy Center’s Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems:
A great way to get your kids to use their hands for things other than scrolling through social media or clicking on their tablets is to get them to be creative. Mo Willems is the Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence. Since the quarantine, he has begun to make videos of himself drawing and exploring different ways to make art. He provides printable worksheets for each of his “Lunch Doodles” on the Kennedy Center website.
Documentaries for kids:
Netflix, Hulu and all of the other streaming platforms provide a wide variety of different types of documentaries. Many of these can be super educational and kid-friendly. March of the Penguins was the first documentary I watched as a kid and it really opened my eyes and taught me so much about nature and penguins. Disney’s animal documentaries like “Born in China” and “Monkey Kingdom” are super educational and interesting to watch. Some other family-friendly documentaries include “Kindness is Contagious,” “Pick of the Litter” and “The Imagineering Story.”
Live stream concerts:
Since artists can no longer perform on stage in front of audiences, they are bringing the concert to you by live-streaming their performances online. Live Nation has a whole page on their site dedicated to telling you when these live stream concerts are taking place. Some family-friendly artists who have begun live streaming are Andrew Lloyd Webber with Lin-Manuel Miranda and Kathrine McPhee with David Foster. They have sung songs from your kids’ favorite Disney movies as well as popular musicals. To find out more about who is live streaming, check out Live Nation’s website or your kids’ favorite artist’s social media pages.
Parents, does it ever seem like picking a movie to watch with the whole family gets tougher and tougher the older your kid becomes?
Parents, does it ever seem like picking a movie to watch with the whole family gets tougher and tougher the older your kid becomes?
I know when I was 14 or 15-years-old the last thing I wanted to do was watch a movie with my parents.
It’s probably difficult because tweens are at that awkward stage: Too old for “kids” movies, but not yet ready for adult movies.
Well, how about a compromise?
Instead of recommending just a one movie, I’m going to recommend an entire franchise: “Star Wars.”
What most of you remember as a 1970’s space story about a young Jedi named Luke Skywalker trying to defeat Darth Vader has evolved over the past forty-plus years into an entire fictional-universe that’s comprised of full-length films, animated and live-action television shows, video games, comics and chapter books.
I think it’s the perfect bridge between you and your kid, particularly if they are a tween.
Star Wars Basics:
“Star Wars” was created by George Lucas, owner of Lucas Films. The entire franchise was purchased by the Walt Disney Company in 2012 for $4.05 billion.
After the release of the original “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope”, Lucas went on to release “Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back” in 1980 and Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi in 1983. These are called the original trilogy. Though they are labeled Episodes IV, V and VI, I highly recommend stating with “A New Hope.” Not only does it have one of the simplest hero arcs for a kid to understand, but it easily establishes the light and dark side the force, a key concept in all of the films. Also these are most likely the “Star Wars” films you grew up with, so it might be the perfect place to start bridging that gap.
Twenty-some years later, Lucas released three more films between 1999 and 20015. This trilogy, known as the “prequels” tells the story of how Anakin Skywalker eventually became Darth Vader.
Even though the prequels received a lot of scrutiny from critics, they’re still beautiful pieces of art. This trilogy was released when I was a kid. I confess I had a mixed bag of emotions watching Anakin grow from a young boy into a renowned Jedi, and then becoming a force for evil as he turned to dark side.
Note, this trilogy ends on a somber note as we see the relationship between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin change (Anakin becomes head strong and refuses to listen to the advice of his elders.)
After the prequels were released, Lucas and Disney went on to make three more movies. They pick up where Episode VI ended, so these are Episodes VII, VIII and IX. Currently, “Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker” is still playing in some theaters after debuting Dec. 18, 2019. It serves as both the end to the Skywalker Saga.
This last trilogy is probably the one your kid knows best. It’s very female-empowering as the plot follows a young woman, Rey, who becomes the next Jedi. The cast is by far the most diverse in the franchise’s history but still includes legends such as Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford returning to play their original roles.
Importantly, all of these films can easily be streamed on Disney+, excluding “The Rise of Skywalker” which is still in some theaters. But here is where it gets interesting. There is a lot more to the Star Wars Universe!
Other Popular Star Wars Media
In addition to the prequel films, Disney and Lucas Films have also released two spin-off movies. One is “A Star Wars Story: Rogue One”. It tells the story of the rebels who stole the Death Star’s plans prior to “A New Hope”. Another is “A Star Wars Story: Solo”. It serves as Han Solo’s origin story. While these films have received mixed reviews by some critics, they both carry strong themes of bravery and justice, and I think they are excellent films.
You might not know there have been several television series in the franchise’s history. Right now there are two that stand above the rest.
“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” is an animated series that ran from 2008 to 2014 on Cartoon Network and retuned on Netflix for a sixth season later that year. Disney recently announced that the series will be returning for its seventh and final season Feb. 21, streaming exclusively on Disney+.
The show is animated, so that might make it more appealing to your kids than to you. But don’t let that stop you from watching. It has many fans of all ages. A few claim it is the best media the franchise has to offer.
A new series is really catching people’s attention, “The Mandalorian”. If you haven’t seen it, is the show responsible for the “Baby Yoda” memes you may have seen on Facebook. This show became Star Wars’ first live-action television series when it debuted on Nov. 12, 2019. It was timed to launch with Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+.
It has been confirmed that the show will return for a second season in the fall of this year.
Like all of the Star Wars movies and TV shows, it always has a good message. I would sum this one up as “Doing the right thing even when the wrong thing seems easier.”
Star Wars has also been making a strong comeback over the last several years with their video games. It’s safe to say that “Star Wars Battlefront II” is currently the space saga’s most popular game.
Available on consoles like PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC for less than $20, the game is very entertaining for the price. It is also very appropriate for tweens. While there is obviously some violence, which explains the Teen ESRB rating, it isn’t graphic. Defeated players generally just fall to the ground. If you want, check out this parent review on the game that goes into more detail.
Maybe you’re not one of those people that reads science fiction and you have a hard time buying into a fictional, galactic-spanning universe of diverse creatures (that somehow still manage to communicate with each other?). But I think it’s the perfect vehicle for bridging the gap between childhood and adulthood for kids in that tween stage. It has action and aliens, but it’s not graphic or grotesquely violent like some franchises these days.
With new content continuing to rollout, “Star Wars” could be the perfect compromise for your next family movie night. Or your next twelve.
We’ve put our best stuff, plus a lot of new stuff, in our recently released book. Great as a gift for any caregiver that has to understand the world of our children and youth. In a clear and accessible way, it shines a light on the social and technological environment that parents find mystifying and frightening. It covers a host of important and up-to-date issues including social media, finances and gambling, television, health (alcohol, drugs, vaping, depression, suicide), relationships, bullying, gaming, and many others. The book’s organization into topical chapters allows the reader to quickly find well-researched information on a given issue. A salient feature of the book is that it is largely written by young people themselves who have experienced these challenges yet have done the hard work of thoroughly investigating and reporting each topic. Get it now in Kindle or paperback version at Amazon.com
Parents, with winter break approaching, chances are your kids will have additional screen time over the holiday.
So how about this year, instead of letting them scroll endlessly on YouTube or Netflix, watching meaningless, sub-par content, why not suggest something that could actually be worth their time?
I’m talking about Marvel’s “Hero Project,” streaming exclusively on Disney+.
A Short Series Overview
Marvel’s “Hero Project” is a Disney+’s original series shot in documentary-style. It follows young real-life heroes as they show courage and kindness. These teens inspire positivity and change across their communities.
Each kid featured in the show will have a comic book written about them – inspired by their real-life acts of heroism.
It is a 20-episode production and currently has six episodes released, with a new episode debuting every Friday.
To let you know what you can expect, here’s a quick review of Episode 1: “Sensational Jordan.”
Episode 1: “Sensational Jordan” Review
As most Marvel motion-pictures do, “Hero Project” does a great job of introducing the show. It begins with a voiceover from a Marvel editor who says how they are continuing to be inspired every day by real-life heroes.
Jordan Reeves is a 13-year old girl with a limb difference – her left arm stops just above the elbow. In the first scene, she is seen cheerleading at a junior high sporting event. Unlike most tweens who struggle with imperfection, Jordan embraces what makes her different. Stubborn and hard-headed from an early age, she comes across as a confident and intelligent teenager.
Growing up having to learn how to do things a little different than most people, Jordan always had a fascination with design and how things worked. After attending a design workshop in San Francisco, Jordan began working weekly with Sam Hobish, a design mentor, on a glitter gun for her dismembered arm.
Eventually, because of how serious Jordan took her invention, she went viral – appearing on the “Rachael Ray Show” and later pitching her idea to the cast of “Shark Tank.”
After her climb into the spotlight, Jordan wanted to do more to help others. She began holding workshops with other kids to help build things that played off their disabilities. She became an activist for more consideration for accessibility in the design community – eventually creating her own non-profit foundation, “Born Just Right”.
At the end of the episode, Marvel presents her with her own comic book and makes her an official member of the “Hero Project” because of her charitable and forward-thinking work.
Altogether, I think Disney does a great job moving an audience with such an inspirational story in just a brief 25 minutes. Even as an adult, I felt a swing of emotions throughout the short documentary, and it left me feeling positive and joyful. There were also some absolutely stunning shots in this episode.
I’m not a particularly huge Marvel Cinematic Universe fan, but I was blown away by the show’s overall concept and the beautiful execution in episode one.
In a world where there is so much pointless and commercialized content out there, that target kids specifically, I think “Hero project” is a great way to combat that. It promotes both critical thinking and positive change.
It’s a home-run for me and I think it will be with most parents struggling to find good content for their children.
What Parents Are Saying
Mom bloggers and entertainment critics Patty Holiday of No-Guilt Fangirl and Andrea Updyke of Theme Park Parents collaborate on the podcast “Now Streaming Disney Plus”. They break down all the latest Disney Plus news in addition to reviewing the different series from a tween-parent perspective. The two moms also loved the first episode and offer some great insight. You can check that out here.
The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) recently released a study on the nature of gaming in America. I’ll say upfront, the ESA is an association made up of the biggest gaming companies and therefore has an interest in portraying the gaming industry in a positive light. With that said, it is probably not surprising that they found that Americans of all ages and all races play video games.
What I found surprising in
their report was that most gamers are not just the stereotypical teenage or
college boy lying on a couch. It turns out many Gen X’ers (ages 35-45) and Baby
Boomers (ages 55-64) play. Many of these having been playing for years or even
What I also found interesting was the information about parents and their child gamers. ESA says that 87% of American parents are aware of the ESRB ratings. I recently wrote a blog post explaining the Entertainment Rating System Board. The Board’s rankings are supposed to help parents decide if a game is too mature for their kid. ESA says that most parents believe the ratings are accurate and that they regularly use these ratings.
The ESA also found that 50% of the surveyed parents limited the time their child could play video or computer games. This was a greater percentage of parents than those who limited their kid’s time browsing the Internet, streaming TV shows, using social media, or watching TV. I found this a bit surprising. However, I think the ESA might be trying to make parents feel safer about gaming. In another area of the report I did see that 9 of the top 20 best-selling games in 2018 were rated “mature.” Maybe the ESA knows parents are worried about the content of video games. And maybe parents do have a reason to be concerned. “Mature” rated games are very, very popular, even though they are only 9% of all of the games released or available in 2018.
An encouraging statistic I thought was that 57% of parents report playing games with their kids at least once a week. Also, 74% believe video games can be educational. These are healthy numbers in my opinion, and I agree that playing games with your kids is great. I wrote a blog on that a few weeks back. Games can be educational and it is awesome when parents play with their kids.
Another statistic that
stood out for me was that 75% of American households have at least one gamer in
them. That tells me that gaming is very widespread and we should be paying attention
to how parents are coping with child gamers. It doesn’t look like that stat is
going to go down anytime soon.
Gaming is now mainstream and the report confirms that gamers come from all age groups. The ESA found that while 21% of gamers are under the age of 18 and 40% of gamers are between the ages of 18-35. This second cohort is the largest group and also the audience that buys the most hardware and software. Gamers between the ages of 36-49 make up 18% and the 50+ age group makes up 21%. Note, the age brackets are not equal – the second group spans a 17-year age range while the third only an 11-yr age range. Not sure why the ESA broke the data down that way, but it does say that less than a quarter of all gamers are high schoolers or younger.
While the ESA did break
down the type of game each of the older three age brackets purchased or played,
for some reason they did not do it for the under 18 category. This seems like a
suspicious omission to me. In another part of the report they say that 26.9% of
all games sold are “action” games, and another 20.9% are “shooter”. It stands
to reason many of these players must be from the under 18 age bracket. And I’ve
already mentioned that 9 of the top 20 games are rated “mature” by the ESRB.
I’ll have to leave it to you parents about whether you are concerned by these
What I am glad about is that there is some data about the diversity of American gaming. It’s a huge phenomenon and one that I participate in heavily. I hope that we can all navigate the growing popularity of gaming, including parents and their children. Gaming is going to be around for a long time, and though the ESA is clearly an industry support group, it’s statistics have to be considered when deciding how to react to the new gaming culture.