The Family Gaming Debate: Should You Restrict Kids Access to Gaming?

Now I don’t have any problems with my children playing video games and I am a gamer myself. I believe they are a form of entertainment and I don’t believe they have many negative effects beyond that of any other entertainment. But as with everything, moderation is best and over use can lead to problems.

Excessive Gaming Issues

I have noticed that at times my son can become aggressive when gaming. To counter this we have recommended that he go and do something else for a while. It could be assumed that this behavior is tied to the games, however this is more the catalyst rather than the problem. Usually when he is ‘losing control’ it is due to sleep deprivation and caused by him not going to bed. Recently he, at times, has been staying up late playing, and this has resulted in his sleeping patterns being disrupted. As he is playing games online, and with players all over the world, there is no down time and he can find a game to play at anytime, and this is the main problem.

Restricting Access

In order to assist him in maintaining a healthy playing structure, we decided to limit the consoles access. At the start we set times for two breaks, one at midday and the other at six, both of these. We picked these times so he stopped at meal times. We also set it to clock off a ten, and return at seven the next morning. This worked well for a few weeks. After a while he asked for the daytime’s to be switched off as it was interrupting his play with friends. The fact that he asked, rather than moaned, and ha proper arguments we agreed and removed the block for the day, and we let the night one out to eleven, which was the time that his friends seemed to leave as well.

Is it the Real Solution?

Turning off the console can create new issues as, you are doing two very different things. The first is removing a form of entertainment and the second is you are restricting communication with friends. So when you are taking away the gaming console, you are also saying that they can’t play with their friends. The gaming console has become a personal safe place for them to hangout. It’s the mall of the current generation.

A Better Way?

Recently I have become more mindful that when he is ‘playing’ he is actually interacting with friends. When I want to talk with him, I ask him to turn off the mic, so I don’t embarrass him in front of his friends. I needed to realise that this is his place and I am an outsider. Our communication became better when I learned what he thought of as acceptable. For example, he is fine being called to dinner and other general family business, but talking about anything personal needs to be approached more carefully.

I guess it is about respect and privacy. Sometimes he is okay with me watching and talking about the game and other times he is not. I need to read each situation and act accordingly. If I get a bit of a stare-down I know that he wants to be left alone. Obviously I can choose to do so or not, but if I don’t need to tell him something then usually I leave him be and if not we have worked out signals so he can ‘opt out’ of the game for a second so his mates don’t hear what I am saying.

Learning to Deal with New Tech

Sometimes I feel that these are issues that my own parents did not have to deal with. But of course they had, it was just slightly different. Even though the console still turns off at eleven, and he usually goes to bed at a reasonable hour, I feel that he was right and the day times were a bit excessive.

If you’re having problems with excessive use perhaps try limiting the console’s access to the internet, but as with everything a discussion that involves all parties can result in a smoother transition.

What are your thoughts on restricting kids access to gaming? Feel free to comment below.

Feature Image: xbox controller. by Adam.James (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Is Ghostbusters (2016) Really that Bad?

Ghostbusters came out in 2016 among a flurry of (mostly negative) internet chatter. Some people hated it and some people were undecided and others supported it as an important step forward in cinema. However, most of this early talk was around the casting choices rather than the actual film. If it is judged by the first trailer, it seemed like it was going to be disappointing, but is this the actual case?

I like to give things a chance and the second trailer made it look much better. So I took my kids to see it, and my opinion didn’t really change. It’s not a perfect movie, but then re-watching the original 1984 one, that is not a perfect movie either. From Venkman using his position of power as a professor to seduce a young woman in the opening scenes to the amount of smoking throughout the film. Is the original a film that kids should be watching? I saw the original in the cinema as a ten year old and it scared the pants off me. I still get the jitters watching the library scene.

At its core Ghostbusters 2016 is a kids movie. It’s aimed at children and not nostalgic adults. If you’re not sure about that here’s a tip. If the movie has bodily function comedy, you’re watching a kids film. The film was never made to replace the old one, but rather reintroduce the old story and concept to a new audience. If you love the old film and are able to chuck on the rose tinted glasses so all it’s flaws seem inconsequential, then you don’t want or need to see this film; and thus your opinion of it is invalid.

So what’s good about it…

The representation of struggle on the part of their professional careers. It showed real problems faced by people trying to move past their previous endeavors.

The element of danger was more real, and they showed thought and ingenuity to solve problems. The development of new weaponry beyond the all-purpose proton pack.

The battle scene on the streets demonstrated overcoming their vulnerabilities. This was vastly superior to the ghost capturing montage of the original.

And what’s bad about it…

All the cameo’s from the original Ghostbusters, they were nothing more than distraction. If people wanted them in the movie, they should have made a fresh one with them in it.

A few of the jokes were flat, and didn’t come across well, but then again it is a kids film.

Should you watch it?

If you are looking for something similar to the original one, then no. These films are not linked beyond the concept and theme. If you are after a fun kids movie that is not too scary, then this movie is a good safe option. Not every movie is made to be some spectacular masterpiece, many are made to be fun. I feel that with many so called ‘classics’ the larger audience just remember key scenes and not the film as a whole.

Feature Image: Science Eyes by Tom Woodward (CC BY-NC 2.0)

How to Get Kids into Cooking

Getting kids into cooking can lead to many benefits. As a parent one thing I have always struggled with is getting them to eat good food. A short Google search and it is clear that I’m not alone. Just reading recently I found an article that talked about hows children are losing the ability to cook. This was due to our busy schedules and the rise in the consumption of ‘ready’ meals.

So… what’s the Problem?

My daughter hates fruit and vegetables. When presented with one, she cries, pretends to choke and takes an inordinate amount of time to chew them. I think for her it is more about the mouth feel of the offending item rather than the taste. While my son eats veggies okay, when it comes to getting himself something he will live on weet-bix and biscuits. If it is anything more complex than milk in a bowl then it doesn’t happen.

A Possible Solution…

So I decided to get them cooking. The first time I allowed them to choose what they would make. The girl, who is up for anything, wanted to do the rice. The boy picked the veggies. I know my daughter can help as often in the past she has wanted to help. She is just at that age so it will wear off soon. My son was happy to help. He has really been making an effort in his attitude and is maturing well for a fourteen year old.

And the Results?

I was happy with their choices as I felt that it suited their abilities. Dry rice and water, was perfect for her. There was not much to go wrong and we had a good laugh later when she got some peas ready, and pead all over the bench and floor. I was able to teach my son how much he needed to cut off the sweet potato and carrots. On his first go he tried to cut about 5cm off the top of the carrots, a quick explanation and that was resolved. Having patience here really helps, and I reminded myself that they knew next to nothing. During this I also found that he did not know how to use a peeler, he was using the edge of the blade instead of the cutting surface in the middle. It took him a few goes, but he soon got the hang of it.

In the end I feel they both enjoyed their time in the kitchen, and the next night we tried something more technical. We are also experimenting with dinner at the table, however this is all much easier when one hasn’t worked all day. I think that reminding myself that doing this will help them become more independent and have less fear when that day of moving eventually comes. No parent likes to think about that but not doing so and you are doing your children a disservice. We will see I I have the discipline to continue this plan in the future, I hope so because cooking two different meals a night by myself is REALLY boring.

Feature Image: Morning Brew by Derek Buff (CC BY-NC 2.0)


Star Trek Discovery ‘Slides’ Back onto Netflix

When Star Trek Discovery made its debut on Netflix in September 2017, I thought that it was a perfect step in the right direction. Now, I have been a fan of the series since watching ST:TNG on VHS (I know right, what are those?), hiring them weekly from my local VideoEzy store. As far as I’m aware it didn’t have an airing schedule in Australia, perhaps it shifted around or used as night time filler(!). I tend to feel that many studio executives have little idea how to market these programs to advertisers and they end up being scrapped early due to poor ratings (eg. FarscapeFirefly).

From the very first episode I was hooked, I liked that the show was being released weekly rather than all at once, as this allows time to properly digest the show as opposed to rushing through it. I like all of the characters, especially Cadet Tilly, she isn’t the hyper-confident personality that seems to dominate the Star Trek universe. I especially like how all the characters seem like individuals and none of them are perfect, they are like real people instead of people puppets. Their motives are different, they talk differently to different people, and there is clear conflict between some of them, and this is more in line with real life.

However back to the episode in question. I really enjoyed it, I found that toward the end of the mid-season break, they had started to get a bit out of focus. Actually watching the new episode I discovered that I had not seen the last few minutes of the previous episode. So I was playing a bit of catch up, and after the show ended I went back and took care of that last five minutes – if only they had paced that entire episode that way.

The idea of parallel universes is not new. However the crew take way too long to catch up and I suspect most fans had it pegged right from the ‘I don’t know where we are.’ line. Watching it was a bit like, ‘yes we get it, you’re in a different universe – get on with it!’

I love the idea of the displaced crew, but I’m not a massive fan of the extreme opposite ideology that they find themselves in. In the Star Trek universe these episode are known as the Mirror Universe, and I find them ridiculous – the way the characters behave is unsustainable. I will be interesting to see how long the Discovery crew remain in the mirror universe, but I feel that any more than four episodes it become tedious. I really hope they continue with the excellent work they have been doing, and scrap any ideas for more nostalgic story lines.

Even though I don’t like this particular take, I have a connection with the many universe theory. It plays to one of my personal concepts of living a life with no regrets. This being that what ever decision I make, the alternative choice resulted in a worse outcome. Thinking like this allows to move on from certain choices I have made in the past that I seem to dwell on – I mean we ALL have those right?

Feature Image: Science Eyes by Tom Woodward (CC BY-NC 2.0)

And now for something completely different…

For some time I have been considering what to do with this blog. A part of me wanted to make it work related and another part wanted it more relaxed with no general theme. It all leads into the question of who am I? And often that is a very difficult question to answer. I have never felt that I fit into any sort of standard personality. I also often question my own mental state. Does everyone do this? I don’t know, and I guess it is impossible to determine. It is actually one of the main questions that I fumble whenever going for a job interview; the old ‘so tell me about yourself’. I know that this question is a ruse, generally the interviewer is trying to see if you will fit with the group, do they like you, how personable are you, are you going to be one of the gang? I was once told that anyone can be trained for any job and it is more about your personality than your abilities. Perhaps this is why I struggle so much in interviews, maybe I don’t know myself as much as I think I do. Indeed what makes me… me?

I know what I love to do. I love to create, taking things apart and seeing how they work, putting them back together (sometimes) successfully. I enjoy trying to find faster and more efficient ways of doing tasks. I love change and progressive ideas, even if it effects me in a negative manner; a challenging opportunity to find the positive in every outcome.

I enjoy consuming media of all sorts, I love analysing and discovering new ways of thinking about particular topics, what motivates the antagonist. Why are we not hearing their story? What is the author/director trying to say with their work, are they saying anything? How about sensationalist journalism? Are these real stories or nothing more than advertisements masquerading as social injustices? I absolutely love going to the cinema, and while I not a first week out person – hate the crowds – I will usually see a movie every few weeks. I like to take my kids along, so the films I see differ wildly in theme and rating. But there is usually something worthy about the film in question… sometimes the car ride home can elicit striking conversations, as I challenge my children to think more deeply about what they just watched. What did you think of… and why did they do that? It can be enlightening to hear their responses and add to my own enjoyment of the film.

Anyway… so onto the blog. What will it be? It’s going to become something that I do for myself. I will still publish to the world, ideally it will be about what I do in my life. But what can we expect! I hear the empty crowd cheer. Well it could be anything! I feel that I am a free thinker – I like to approach topics with an open mind. At the moment I have a schedule to work with, I think the best approach is to assign topics to certain days. But this is more to help me with thinking of something to write about. I plan on writing content four times a week as a minimum, but it may be more if something happens that day that I feel I need to discuss. All my posts will be open for comments for about a month after it’s published, I encourage any comments and will only moderate spam.

For now that is about it. Feel free to follow along, I hope this will become what blogs started out as being, nothing more than an online log. I’m not here to sell anything. Any advice I offer is just how I personally solved a problem, it may work for you it may not. I like to think I’m funny and I hope I may be somewhat entertaining. Now join me and together we can rule the… um yeah.

Feature Image: Sunset Drive-In by Nicholas Erwin (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)