As Christmas is looming I would like for all parents and grandparents to remember that we don’t always have to give into the whims of our children, when we know what is best for them, is not what they are wanting! I think that the fight that we, as parents, are constantly making is; do we buy the gift that is easiest, or do we buy the gift that is best in the end?  I know that we are always trying to make this Christmas one that they will never forget, but in the end we hurt our children and ourselves.  We hurt them because then they spend endless droning hours in front of the computer filling their brains with violence, gore, filth, rape, degradation of the weak, as well as allowing them the prime opportunity to become addicted.  If we chose an option that is less appealing at first, it could be better for everyone in the end. i.e. Athletic Lessons that could spur some unknown interest, an art lesson or acting lesson that could ignite a creative streak, or even a mini vacation for the weekend that could make a lasting impression forever.  For pre-teens and teenagers, to get them socks instead of their favorite game is not the answer, but maybe a membership somewhere could lead them on a new career path that they hadn’t even thought of, or a lesson that brings a new social and physical outlet that they never knew they had before.  These are the decisions that grandparents and parents need to make at Christmas as well as the entire year!

Violent video games and children is something we’ve focused a lot of time on since launching  The reason behind that is that the video game industry is continuing to grow at a staggering pace.  Earlier this year, research from Gartner, an influential and respected technology researcher, estimated the industry to grow to $112 Billion by 2015.

As the article goes on to say, the fastest growth category within the already incredible pace will come from mobile gaming – which is outside the gaming taking place of iPhone’s and other smart phones.

With a game like Call of Duty: Black Ops selling over $650 Million in just five days, and games like it growing in popularity, overlayed with the growth of mobile gaming, two multipliers are in place that make it more challenging for parents.  More games, that are more realistic, seeking to outdo one another in the level of graphic violence, coupled with increased access, and that access being mobile, means that parents must be even more vigilant than ever to prevent their kids from playing the games that they deem inappropriate.  Of course, this is all assuming they have an opinion on the subject, and want to prevent their kids from playing a certain game.

And, that’s the major impetus behind our effort with this site.  We seek to inform parents about the real risks, so that they can be armed against the increasing demand they’ll have directed toward them.  A $74 Billion industry well on it’s way to $112 Billion is certainly filling the airwaves with messages that seek to downplay any risk.  We just want to be a voice of subtle opposition.  The stakes are our children, and we think there’s no stakes higher.

I read the recent article on Yahoo that talked about a wife that put her husband on Craig’s List because she was “tired of waiting” for him while he played video games.  This was supposed to be a funny bit to try and “warn” her husband that he plays video games too much, but what is it really saying?  That we are a society of mindless activities? That adults are now suffering from the same video game addiction that I have been talking about for awhile now?  Could it be displaying that adults are just as guilty of irresponsible behavior as children? or could the article have been a warning to other women out there that when deciding on a husband, make sure you are looking at his hobbies because, contrary to popular opinion video games and video gamers can be addicted to their hobby.  

I am unsure as to what I would do if my husband were truly addicted to video games, but I think it could really affect our daily life.  If you play video games all of the time, when does going out on dates with your wife go on the calendar? When does family time, or family dinner take place?  Where does your job fit in, or exercise, or socializing, or going to your children’s activities, or family functions, clubs or organizations, housework, outside time, etc?  

I think one of the comments that I would like to make is that the article itself was kind of sad, however, it was the comments that made me think.  There were at least 1/3 of the comments that were other gamers that were cheering on the husband and there was another 1/3 that were other wives complaining of THEIR video game addictions.  This means that 2/3 of the comments written are either addicted to video games, or married to adults that are addicted to video games.  This is a sad commentary of the current adult population.  When are we going to stop and take this situation seriously?  Whether it is providing more opportunities or options for those who are addicted, and/or providing support or services to those that are affected by the addicts in their lives.

Posted on November 22nd, 2011 in Media Addiction, Parents Stories | Leave a comment

I have been researching toys for my kids for Christmas, and have been reading all of the reviews.  Over and over again I have been reading that toys for kids are good for “in a pinch” situation, but many of them are highly addictive.  Some of the parents are saying that the video game devices, the tablets and video players are attention suckers, addictive, and change their child’s overall personality.  I am not saying that the reviews haven’t had pros to say about these toys, but some of the negatives are finally coming out.  Parents have been oblivious to the affects of many of these toys for years, but now parents are seeing differences in their children, and are observing older kids who have been affected by these same toys in their early years. 

I think that as parents we have many battles that we fight on a daily basis, from what your child eats, to what they do, to what they play with, to what they say, how they act, how they perform academically, physically, emotionally, socially, etc.  The last battle that we need to be fighting is with the toys and devices that we are buying with our very own money.  The problem is that you don’t realize the affect that a toy has until you have brought it into your home, and had to fight with your child over it!!

The only advice that I have for any parent this Christmas season is that you look up the toy you are buying on Amazon and read ALL of the parent reviews.  It has been helpful and eye opening for sure.  Good luck to all parents!

I was recently talking with a 1st Grade Teacher and she was discussing with me that on Monday mornings the kids in her classroom are asked to share with the rest of the class one thing that they did over the weekend.  She sets the perimeters that they can’t say that they ate, slept, watched TV or played video games.  I asked her why she tells them they can’t talk about the video games, and she told me it was because that would include most of her class, and they would state that almost every time.  I was in disbelief that this was for kids that were six and seven.  She said the scary thing is not THAT they are playing, it is WHAT they are playing and that they are playing them unmonitored, and for however long they want, without much input from the parents.

Because of this conversation with this particular teacher, it has me wondering about video games and children even more.  I think we need to beg parents to take more interest in these things.  The kids that are playing these video games endlessly are the ones that are not spending enough time doing their homework, who aren’t interacting or fully engaging with others.  These are the children that aren’t experiencing things and aren’t outside enjoying what the world has to offer. 

As I have stated before, video games can help certain children, and in certain situations, but those are not the majority of users, nor are they the “normal” consumer.  The “normal” consumer is not using video games once a week as a family activity. The “normal” consumer is not playing phonics games on their XBOX.  The “normal” consumer is not playing sensory stimulating games with their therapist.  The “normal” consumer that the gaming industry is hoping to target is one that will buy the top of the line games, and play them so much, that they will need to go and buy another game because they have already conquered the last game. 

I am just wondering who sticks up for the kid who has parents that don’t care about them and let them play Modern Warfare at 6 years old until all hours of the night.  I am wondering at what point is that considered abuse or neglect?  I am just posing the question of when do we cross the line as parents from being passive parents to being hurtful and neglectful or even abusive parents to our children by letting them watch terrible, horrible, inappropriate things that will hurt them, in this case certain video games?

Posted on November 10th, 2011 in Media Addiction, Parents Stories | Leave a comment

There has been a debate in the therapy world about using any media-type devices with those children having special needs. When you have children that have different types of dissabilities they are sometimes driven by the noise, the action, the visual stimulants caused by media devices. 

There were several articles written in the Pscychology Review about this exact issue.  It was stated that there are some positive outcomes that can come from playing video games in therapy.  It can help with sensory stimulation, reward/dopamine release, executive functioning, and visual perspective.  The kids are easily motivated to conquer certain aspects of therapy when used side-by-side with media stimulation. 

However, the drawback to this kind of therapy is that children with certain disabilities can become obsessed with the games, and it becomes detrimental.  Specifically children with autism have a hard time with using these tools with a sense of limitation.  They want to play these games with an obsessive-like nature.  It is like most things, that in a controlled, limited, observed capacity video games could help children of all abilities, and all levels learn certain skills.  It just can’t take on an obsessive nature that ends up hurting the child in the end.

Posted on November 2nd, 2011 in Media Addiction, Parents Stories | Leave a comment

I realize that many of my blogs focus on the negative aspects of video games, and I still believe and stand by what I have said previously.  However, after making that clear, I also believe there are many instances where video games can be rewarding and in some cases life-changing. 

I know that there are many people who have lost weight and become healthier because they have played Wii fit.  For some people it is a cheap way to be able to take part in yoga or other excercise programs without the use of a gym, or a trainer.  For these people to be able to strengthen their bodies, improve flexibility and lose weight, what a great idea!  They have improved there entire body for the better, and that is a great reason to endorse video games. 

There have been articles written recently about kids helping cure diseases by playing video games.  It is a new push to create scientific discovery games that help change the future of science.  I think that is an awesome use of time, and for those people who were going to play video games anyways, it is great to be curing a disease along the way!

I know that for children video games are educational, and can sometimes help their verbal skills.  Games that teach children repetition, memory enhancement, general computer skills, improve typing techniques, aid in reading, mathematics, puzzle building and spelling…..what a difference this makes in the classroom!  (As a former teacher, there is no better way to learn certain skills than through repetition and pure memorization, and video games is a great resource for that.) I also love that video games are able to give certain kids a feeling of success which helps to build their self esteem when sometimes that is a hard thing to come by these days!

I have seen video games bring families together.  My family loves to bowl together on a rainy Sunday afternoon on the Wii, when it is too cold to do anything else in our neck of the woods.  It is fun to get up and play together without a lot of hassle, money or planning, and any skill level will do! So I think that anything that brings an entire family together in a joint activity is worth the money spent. 

I know that there are trying to come out with a game that teaches true to life Karate skills on a video game.  I think that some people think that if you can bowl a strike on the Wii that you can do it in person, but ask my daughter…that is not the case.  However, they are trying to come out with a step by step game that would make it almost as if you were enrolled in a true class.  If they could do that, think of the possibilities for children who don’t have the means to sign up for ballet or tap, or any martial arts.  It would be great to be able to learn new skills at your own pace.  That would be a great addition to the gaming world.

I think that if the gaming industry would stick to the games that bring about positive outcomes then not only would I be happy, but so would many other parents around the world!

Posted on October 31st, 2011 in Media Addiction, Parents Stories | Leave a comment

I know that many of my blogs are against media in some form due to excessive violence, or addiction, etc.  However, I have been struggling with this thought that there has to be some positive media out there, and that I should also talk about this outcome. 

I believe that there is positive media in the form of commercials that motivate you to go out and serve your country, or contribute to a cause.  I think that there are movies that inform you of ideas that help you better understand other people, and points of view.  I think there are those television shows that make you want to go out and change yourself, or make your world a better place.  I also think that there are video games that help you learn new things, or improve your physical self. 

I guess where I struggle is when parents, such as myself, don’t know where the line is.  I think that the world of media has always been in conjunction with the world of advertising and marketing to get us to consume more than we need.  I understand that this is the nature of the beast, but it always stings a little when you get suckered into buying more than you need, or waste what you don’t want.  I think the same goes for buying media products, or media devices.  As parents we get bombarded when our children are little about their educational futures, and their growth and development.  What parent doesn’t want the best for their children?  So we buy these devices, or these games, or these toys, or these videos or these computer applications, or whatever it is.  Then once we are hooked, our kids are hooked, the family is hooked, then what do you do?  You don’t play Grover’s ABC game forever.  You can’t really expect your child to play Look and Find Letters when they are teenagers.  So then what do we do?  How do we stop the cycle that was created at such a young age? 

I am going to go out there and find the answers for us! I am going to let you know what your options are in regards to the media.  I am hoping to find some positive media options for families.

Posted on October 18th, 2011 in Media Addiction, Parents Stories, Public Policy | Leave a comment

The American Academy of Pediatrics today reaffirmed their position that media and screen time for kids younger than 2 can have potentially negative effects.

Recommendations include:

• The AAP realizes that media exposure is a reality for many families in today’s society. If parents choose to engage their young children with electronic media, they should have concrete strategies to manage it. Ideally, parents should review the content of what their child is watching and watch the program with their child.

• Parents are discouraged from placing a television set in their child’s bedroom.

• Parents need to realize that their own media use can have a negative effect on their children. Television that is intended for adults and is on with a young child in the room is distracting for both the parent and the child.

• Unstructured playtime is more valuable for the developing brain than any electronic media exposure. If a parent is not able to actively play with a child, that child should have solo playtime with an adult nearby. Even for infants as young as 4 months of age, solo play allows a child to think creatively, problem-solve, and accomplish tasks with minimal parent interaction. The parent can also learn something in the process of giving the child an opportunity to entertain himself or herself while remaining nearby.

The full AAP Policy Statement below:

Posted on October 11th, 2011 in Media Addiction, Parents Stories | Leave a comment

I was reading a local newspaper article this weekend about a man who is trying to raise his children as media free as possible. He claims that he is fanatical about going outside and trying to do physical activities as well as implementing a few rules in regards to media usage.  His co-author was poking fun of him through out the article and even went on to say that he was “holding” his children back from socializing and connecting with peers in the present day dynamic.

I am wondering why, as parents, it is holding our children back, or denying them their rights if we attempt to make them well-rounded, and all around healthy individuals.  I am not saying, nor have I ever stated that we should deny children the usage of technology, or even media. I do think that there is a line between allowing our children to utilize technology to further their knowledge base, and kids being addicted to texting, or facebook.  When we, as parents, do not set up rules and limits in regards to media devices we are in essence showing our children that they cannot and should not be able to live without their technological devices. I am wondering when, we as parents, lost control and gave it to our children?

A few of the tips that the author gave was:

  1. NO computers in their bedrooms, EVER.
  2. Have a time limit for any computer/media usage.
  3. All media devices were to be put away during ANY meal.
  4. They had to do at least one non-media related activity per day.

Parents need to set up perameters, and boundaries so that our children know what the expectation is.  Many articles, interviews, and research with adoloscents show a majority wish that their parents would set up rules, and ask them to not be on the computer as much.  They wish parents would have limits on personal usage too, and gave them more attention.  Some of the teenagers stated that they didn’t think they could stop their facebook, video game, computer usage or texting addiction without the assistance of family.  So, maybe now, we can take back some of that control and at least set up some rules and limits when it comes to media usage.