With me being stuck in bed with a nasty virus, I haven’t been able to bring myself to write. Coughing and sneezing takes priority, y’know? So I felt as though I should leave you this hilarious video in my absence. (Note, this is not what I want to do someday. This is not geek therapy. It is a pretty funny parody though). Enjoy!
Parents should be just as accepting and encouraging of their kids who play video games as they are of those who play sports.
Like with sports, studies are showing many benefits to youth playing video games (in moderation) such as: lowered depression, higher self-esteem, improved emotional regulation and fewer emotional disturbances. Children who play video games are also more likely to have better social and stress reduction skills.
Kids are better off emotionally when they do things they enjoy. Their brains are wired to avoid pain and engage in pleasurable activities. A child who finds quiet enjoyable and is scared of getting hurt will probably find sitting inside reading much more appealing than going outside to play soccer. A child who likes puzzles may find playing Legend of Zelda more gratifying than being on a swim team. Learning to challenge ourselves and try new things at a young age is still important. However, it becomes more meaningful when it is a challenge we have a vested interest in.
Children are also more likely to be happy when they are accomplishing things and feel as though they are excelling at what they do. Mastery over our environment is one of the most gratifying achievements in the human experience. Some children are not physically capable of competing in sports, and may have lowered self-esteem when they are unable to succeed. Allowing them the space to find something they are good at gives them a sense of mastery and greater confidence.
For the most part, games designed for kids are multiplayer games, which allows them the chance to learn to play with others. This is important in developing social skills as well as how to be a good winner and a good loser. As a child, I developed good sportsmanship not by playing sports, but by coming home after school and playing Mario Kart with my best friend. It was about fun, and not winning or losing.
I was reading Dan Siegel’s book The Developing Mind (one of the piles of books I need to read for grad school) and something jumped out at me. He said that when a child has a caregiver who shares their interest and excitement, and focuses their attention with the child on the object of interest, the child will feel seen and enriched. The child will thrive in the moment.
When a parent joins with their child in the child’s experience, the child learns that it is okay to enjoy themselves, and that they have someone to share it with. Their feelings become validated and real. They are happier and more confident.
There are two things to look at in how parents approach video games with children: whether or not the parents play themselves, and how conscious and accepting they are of others who play. I even broke it down into a little chart for you (I’m so proud of my chart making skills):
Those Who Don’t Play and are Unaccepting and Unconscious of Those Who Game
I had a co-worker who told me “Seriously? You’re still into that kid stuff?” when I told her I was going to Comic-Con. To me, she embodies the kind of person I’m about to talk about.
These people don’t understand at all. They are the parents who yell at their kids for wanting to stay inside and play video games. Those who ask their children when they’re going to “grow up” and quit playing. Those who just don’t get it and probably never will.
They’ve never played video games so the experience is something that they can’t fathom. It’s not their fault that they don’t understand, but they may have a lot of push back from their children when it comes time to put down the game and take care of business, or go outside. My co-worker (a loving and supportive mother) doesn’t understand that the way the boys we work with react when she takes away their X-Box is the same way she would react if someone took away her favorite book.
This ends up making kids feel bad about themselves for playing video games. They may end up with low self-esteem for liking to do something fun and safe that is looked poorly upon by those around them.
Those Who Play and are Unaccepting or Unconscious of Others Who Game
These are the individuals who grew up with games, love them, and can only see games as something they do. Video games aren’t for kids! They are the ones who have a hard time grasping the concept that the new Nintendo handheld system (the 2DS) was not meant for them, and that it was meant for young children. (Kudos to Nintendo for creating a more durable system that is less likely to damage children’s visual development, btw).
(Image via Wired)
These types of people may also see a lot of push back from their kids because of the “do as I say, not as I do” mentality. An example would be something like a parent buying a new game console for their child, then taking up all the time on the console for themselves, so that the child never has time to play. This would feel very unfair to the child. (Why not just play with them?)
I’m reminded of an episode of Full House where the youngest daughter couldn’t beat a level in a game she’d been playing, so everyone in the house ended up trying to beat the level. They end up becoming obsessed and passing around the controller to everyone but her, playing for hours. She eventually ends up getting fed up and pulling the plug on the system, not because she wants to play, but just to get their attention.
These parent may also be overly competitive with their children, or put them down when they aren’t succeeding. Sometimes they may push too hard for them to do well in a game (even though it may come from a place of love and wanting their child to achieve).
Those Who Play Games and are Accepting and Conscious of Others Who Game
This is the ideal situation. The parent can sit down with their child and play, encourage them to advance in the game. The parent understands the child’s frustrations or joys and can share in them. When it’s time to turn the game off, they understand the need to give a warning in order to give the child time to save.
In this scenario, game time is quality time together. Hopefully, this is where I fit in someday.
Those Who Don’t Play Video Games and are Accepting and Conscious of Those Who Game
Something has to be said for those who may not have the shared experience of playing video games, but still try. Being a good parent does not mean that you have to do everything your child likes to do, but it does mean encouraging them to succeed and doing what they enjoy.
These individuals work harder because the love of gaming does not come naturally to them, but they watch or participate because it is what their child loves. Showing a genuine interest in what your child is doing is a major piece of the puzzle.
You don’t necessarily have to play video games. A positive comment about something you notice about the child’s experience is enough. “Nice combo!”, “I’m glad you’re having fun” or “That game looks cool” work just fine.
Tying it all Together
Encouraging kids to do things they love is important for them to feel okay with what they are doing. We sometimes put a lot of pressure on our children to do the things we want them to do, or what we like to do. It might be easier to allow children their own experiences (within reason), while still encouraging them to try new things that we as parents would like them to do.
I’m not saying let your child sit in front of the T.V. with a controller all day long. Moderation is important with anything, especially video games. A time limit helps set boundaries and lets a child learn to work within a time frame.
I’m also not saying that going outside to play isn’t important. It is. It helps children gain the exercise they need and build their imagination. Building in a set time for playing outside also helps children set boundaries. Many video games (like World of Warcraft and the Nintendo Wii) also give reminders to put down the game and go outside. It’s all a balancing act.
The last thing I’d like to touch on is that this doesn’t just apply to children. We as adults also need to be joined in our interests. Finding a significant other or best friend who shares, or at least pays attention to, our interests is vital to feeling good about what we do and who we are. Often those in the geek culture wind up being teased and ridiculed for our hobbies and interests.
This is part of why I want to be a therapist who can allow these kinds of topics and activities in the office. It makes for a stronger therapeutic relationship and gives the individual room to be who they are and know that it is okay to enjoy the things they do.
So when your child tells you that they would rather be playing Super Smash Bros. instead of playing little league, think about letting them play for half an hour. Better yet, go play with them! (It’s all button mashing anyway.)
Besides, with the International Olympic Committee considering electronic gaming as a sport for the 2016 and 2020 Summer Games, you may have an Olympic athlete on your hands either way!
(Image via Dark Knight News)
Today, my twitter feed blew up with tweets about the writers of Batwoman walking off the series. Many were angry, some just disappointed. Some, like me, were intrigued.
For those of you who have been under a rock (or are Marvel fans, much like myself), the Batwoman series has been history making. She is the first gay superhero to have her own title in mainstream comics. Batwoman has won GLAAD media awards and dealt with controversial issues. She’s a strong female who is a lead and not a sidekick. The list goes on.
Here’s where it gets messy. The creative team behind this groundbreaking series (J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman) have decided to walk away from the series over editorial issues. These issues include continual last minute changes to story including: Killer Croc’s origin, the ending of the current arc (the creators gave no details), and the fact that Batwoman will never be able to marry her fiance, Maggie Sawyer.
Given those details, it’s no wonder everyone has gotten themselves stuck to that last one.
The twitter feed I mentioned earlier was filled with angry tweets about readers dropping the Batwoman series, or even ditching DC completely. I read posts on blogs about removing the Batwoman title from their pull lists. Others are disappointed about DC allowing editorial conflicts to get in the way of two very talent creators making quality books. And as a result their beloved Batwoman’s fate is completely up in the air.
Obviously this is affecting a lot of people very deeply.
As I see it, there are two possible reasons behind this stance on the marriage issue. Either one could cause strong emotions, but one is less sinister than the other.
1. The first option is that those in charge at DC comics are giant homophobes. While this is the conclusion that most people seem to be jumping to (it may or may not be true), we should look at DC’s recent track record on the gays in comics front.
While there has been some controversy over Orson Scott Card’s involvement with a Superman book, DC has taken some huge steps over the past few years. There is currently a gay Green Lantern and Batwoman received her own title which has also dealt with many controversial issues (such as gays in the military). DC also kept things quiet when Batwoman proposed and many believe that this is a sign of an anti-gay stance.
However this brings us to option number…
2. DC may seem ignorant and homophobic, but their motives may have come from somewhere else. Could they have possibly downplayed the Batwoman engagement because they knew that they would never allow the marriage in the first place? And are they not allowing the marriage because it’s a same-sex one, or is it just because it is a marriage in general?
See, comic book characters rarely have stable relationships (look at Archie/Veronica/Betty). That’s just boring. Superheroes are even less likely to have them. I mean, could you seriously picture Batman getting married?
The fact of the matter is, in the current DC universe, many of the marriages and long standing relationships have been broken up (such as Superman/Lois Lane and The Flash/Iris West).
To back this reasoning up, both the creators and DC have commented that the walkout have nothing to do with sexual orientation specifically, just editorial conflicts in general.
Think about it this way: DC could just be anti-marriage, not just anti-gay marriage. And on the bright side, all those spouses are out of harm’s way!
Why do we care?
Regardless of why DC nixed the marriage storyline, it still hurts the fans.
Many of the fans who read the Batwoman series are in the LGBTQ community. For those fans, it may be particularly hard because they’re so close to the issue in a time where the argument over marriage equality is so emotionally charged.
They were finally given a character that they can identify with, and now they’ve been told that that character will never be happy with the woman she loves. Batwoman may not know, but the fans know that she will never have her happily ever after. It’s like the ultimate spoiler.
On top of knowing that something will go wrong for their hero someday, these fans have to deal with the fact that they can’t see their happily ever after through her. That can be a hard thing to sit with.
There’s more to it than just the gay marriage issue as well. Gay and straight fans alike are worried about the fate of their book. With the creative team leaving, the story could be handed over to a less talented team and ruined…or it could end altogether.
Regardless of the cause, there is reason to feel hurt, angry, or disappointed. The worst may be true, but I think DC Comics at least deserves the benefit of the doubt (and me playing devil’s advocate).
What do you think DC’s motive is for not allowing Batwoman’s marriage?
(If you do not see the ability to comment below, click on the article title to load the comments section.)
Beyond the beat-em-up: video games are good for young people
There’s an emerging body of research focusing on the potential positive influences of video games. – Rebecca Pollard
Research and media attention has usually focused on possible negative impacts of video games. But a clear case to support such links is yet to emerge and even people who argue that video games have a negative impact acknowledge that any such effect size is relatively small.
Now, there’s an emerging body of research focusing on the potential positive influences of video games.
(Continue reading the full article at The Conversation: here)
I was brainstorming ideas for today’s post and drawing a complete blank. So I decided to sit down and watch some My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic while I ate dinner (I’ve been catching up slowly on Netflix).
Call it fate, call it kismet, call it coincidence, call it…whatever, but the episode I watched got my brain going and here we are!
In the episode, Twilight Sparkle is late sending Princess Celestia a letter about what she has learned, which is essentially her homework. She runs around like a crazy pony trying to find something to write about…and when she can’t, she creates a problem for herself to fix and report to the princess.
For anyone who doesn’t watch MLP, the characters are very archetypal, which makes them super easy to relate to. I personally always picture myself as Rainbow Dash, the epitome of laid back and cool:
But when I’m sitting down to write my papers or progress notes (or even this blog!), I find myself identifying a little bit more with Twilight Sparkle…
The fact that I can find myself represented (almost perfectly) in a show designed for kids (even though we adults love it too!), is brilliant. Throughout the episode I found myself laughing about the fact that I would be doing some of the same ridiculous things Twilight was doing. Drive my friends crazy by blowing an assignment out of proportion? Yep, I’ve done that. Have intense conversations with myself about how horrible a student I am at the possibility of not getting something done on time? I’m pretty sure I’ve done that once a week since the start of grad school.
The writing is brilliant and makes the characters super accessible to anybody. Usually I can find myself in most of the ponies’ characters, not just one. I think that makes it even easier to relate to the show, and maybe that’s why there’s such a huge fan culture (bronies and pegasisters, unite!).
I also wonder what Carl Jung would make of the show. I mentioned archetypes earlier, and I meant it. Each character has a part to play, and their responses are pretty predictable. I would love to pick Jung’s brain about the citizens of Equestria. Would he see Pinkie Pie as the playful Jester? Or Fluttershy as the nurturing Caregiver? How about Princess Celestia as the wise Sage?
For now I can only hypothesize, enjoy the show, and continue to relate to the characters. (Oh, and lean on my friends to help me pull through my anxiety ridden Twilight moments with Rainbow Dash grace)
I mean, everypony needs someone to look up to, right?
Last month I attended GaymerX, an LGBTQ gaming convention in San Francisco. While it isn’t the focus of this post, the experiences I had were amazing and refreshing. They gave me enough material to write multiple posts just on that con itself (and maybe I will!)
The focus of this post, however, is about something I discovered at that convention, and it’s something that has changed my life and given me a drive that I didn’t know I had.
At GaymerX I discovered Extra Life, a 25 hour video game marathon to benefit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. At the convention, there was a woman taking down information for those interested in signing up to benefit Children’s Hospital Oakland here in California. Little did she know that this particular hospital held so much meaning for me.
When I was 12 years old I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I was so far gone from complications that I was in their pediatric ICU for a week, and then in a regular room for another week. The care I was given was the best hospital care I have ever seen (and I have been to multiple hospitals for various visits or appointments); Children’s is tailor made for these little patients.
So when I heard that there is a fundraising event that involves video games, and benefits the hospital that was responsible for saving my life? Of course I had to say yes!
Rules of the Game
There’s another piece to this that made it a perfect fit. See, I’m not the most…athletic…of people. I get winded walking up the hill to my apartment building, so running a marathon is out of the question for me. Not only is it a charity that benefits my hospital, and that involves something I enjoy doing, but it is something that I can actually accomplish!
It’s so simple: Just sign up to play video games from 8am Nov. 2nd to 8am on the 3rd (Daylight Savings gives us the extra hour to play!). Then annoy all your friends and family by asking them to donate $1 an hour ($25) until you reach your fundraising goal ($200 will get you a T-shirt). Next, play games all day on the day of the event! Any game you want, any place you want.
Extra Life makes it easy, fun, and safe to participate! On their site they even have tips to make it through the 25 hours. Here are a few:
1. Get up and move around every hour
2. Drink plenty of fluids and make sure to eat meals
3. If you can’t make it through all 25 hours, don’t worry! You can make up the hours another time.
These may seem simple, but it is the small details that are important to remember. Children’s Hospital has been doing this for decades. They remember small things like how having good bedside manner can help improve mood. This, in turn, helps recovery and adjustment back to life as an adolescent whose whole life has been turned upside down.
Simple changes make it possible to transform a whole experience, like involving the gaming community in their own unique style of marathon.
This has given me the drive to do everything I can to support this charity and make sure the hospital receives as much help as it can. It can make all the difference to know that you can actually participate, and that it will impact so many lives in need (as I experienced first hand).
Also, how could you not feel empowered by logos and promotional material like this:
With this new found drive, I’ve recruited my fiance and my friends to start a team, called Rare Candy, to raise even more money for the hospital. I’ve also recruited my nephew, who is probably even more excited than I am. He’s had a boost to his self-esteem (much like myself) in knowing that he can make a difference doing something that comes easily to him.
He’s also planning on spending most of the 25 hours playing World of Warcraft with me and teaching me how to tank (I got him into the game, and now he’s teaching me…? Hrmph!)
Now for the shameless plug part…
(I promise I won’t hate you if you stop here, but please continue reading)!
If this post has inspired you to seek more information (you can just look around or join to benefit any Children’s Miracle Network Hospital nationwide), check out: http://www.extra-life.org
If you’d like to join my team, Rare Candy, to raise money for Children’s Hospital Oakland:
To donate and sponsor me:
And remember, it’s all for the children!