Thursday, March 20, 2014

Minecraft is not real, tell your kids!

I got very upset as I was reading my child magazine named Science and life, when I read a 4 pages article about Minecraft. Even if it was under the label "video games" it still looked a lot like a commercial. Unhappily it was not presented like a commercial :-(
It was a few paragraphs under the subject Minecraft on a science mood. Each paragraph had a specific subject and include link to the game.
For example, the first paragraph which is the easiest to analyse for any one knowing music and playing a musical instrument, even if one is a beginner, so, the first paragraph is about composing music! It tells you how wonderful minecraft is as it allow the player to compose even if he is the dummies ever in music. Using some musical bloc you may compose, for example by clicking 3 times on it you produce a B and if you click 11 times it would be a F!
I guess it is the Morse code for music?
Then it tells you how wonderful it would be to reunite IN minecraft with you fellow "new type of musician" and make a band!
Honestly? anyone who learn a little about music would react to this.
So the naive kid will go for it and believe that he is living a wonderful experience, being at last able to play music?
And the article goes on: another subject is explore geophysics with minecraft, and then it is about quantum physic...

And this is supposed to be an article!!!
So I had to explain to my child that this was not an article! that if it was, the journalist would have done a research and expose more than one point of view. For example, the journalist would have interview a musician or a quantum physician to have is view on the subject: a good way to confront virtuality and reality.

I totally dislike minecraft, and the situation with it remind me about the baby Einstein video issue. At that time, Disney was trying to convince parents that those video were good for their babies, that they will make them more intelligent like Einstein. It was a success for a while, many parents felt for it and believed all of this. Well, I guess it was also convenient to believe as they were feeling comfortable that way putting their baby in front of the screen...
Anyway, after a long battle of parents, doctors and researchers proving that not only it was not making their baby smarter but it was actually bad for them, the whole baby Einstein period went away.

Now it is minecraft with all those preteen getting addicted to it and I guess many parents falling for it as well because... it is also convenient isn't it?
Kids stay for hours busy on their computer and parents can be free to do whatever they want instead of entertaining them, driving around, or sharing some precious time with them.
Well, not all the parents are feeling that way, you may want to read what some parents are saying about the game: http://www.circleofmoms.com/kids-aged-over-10yrs-old./11-year-old-son-addicted-to-minecraft-714073

Monday, March 03, 2014

Your Baby Can’t Read (and that’s just fine)

in 2011, CCFC filed a complaint with the FTC against the makers of Your Baby Can Read for falsely advertising that their infant video series taught reading. That complaint led to a landmark decision by the FTC against Your Baby Can Read. Now, a new study validates our complaint. Researchers found no difference in the reading skills of babies who used Your Baby Can Read and babies who didn't. In fact, babies can't learn to read. We hope these results will be a relief to parents pressured by marketers to push infants toward reading (and screens). They should also be a relief to babies who are now free to play, explore, and have fun with the adults who love them—activities proven promote learning in those important early years! You can read more about the study here http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/02/study-babies-cant-learn-to-read/284067/.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Still no time for TV...

Oh well, today, I would be happy to sit on the coach and watch a good movie with my children. I do have a collection of great movies worth to be seen. I love cinema and the audio-visual language is totally important to learn. However, it is not again today that we will find the time to do so.

It is already 4pm and my children are busy doing their own thing, one reading the other exploring a new computer program (not a game, we do not do game, no time for it). So he is actually exploring new tools on his computer keeping in mind a class project.

So, here is the situation, if I call them to watch a movie, sure they will drop what they are doing to come with me and enjoy. But a movie last for at least 1h30mn. So it would be over by 5:30 pm... hum, diner is at 6 pm so that would mean no more time to wander around, do whatever feeling in the mood to do... those precious moment they never encounter on working days...

I guess we will have to wait another occasion to watch a movie. In California the weather is mostly beautiful so we are mainly outside, which is great. On the other end, we do not have much time for all those activities that happen inside. And truly, TV is not at the top of our list. Those days, music may come first with reading and exploring technology I guess.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

I am getting hungry seeing all those people eating...

oh, what did you say? you are getting hungry seeing all those people eating in those commercials?

Exactly! that is exactly the point! We are watching the Olympic games, a great model we will think as we are watching sport.We are admiring the hard work of fit athletes. But unhappily, at each commercial break, and there are a lot of them, we are seeing people eating, commercial for food, for junk-food! People eating pizza, or chicken nuggets, or sweet...

So that is a challenge for a family where we avoid TV programs in order actually to avoid commercials. Happily we do not have much time for TV anyway. A rare grey week-end with a lot of homework is the occasion to follow the Olympic games while working on some artwork. But it does raise a question, how do you expect american to get healthier, eat better and less while they are watching people eating junk-food at almost every single commercial break?

Like my kid said, surprised to feel that way as it was the first time "whoah, to see all those people eating, it make me hungry"

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Why minecraft seems so popular and addictive among young teen?

Giving a closer attention and interest to Minecraft and the diverse reaction this game imply around me, I started to research and think a little further about the game.

First I was happy to notice that the parents of the closest friend of my son did remove the game from the computer of their son. Interesting to note that even if they did buy the full version in the first place, they noticed the negative impact the game had on their son and reacted promptly.

One of them, who is totally computer literate and like to optimize his 2 sons's time, simply explained to them how that game was a simple waste of time. As his son was tentatively arguing about how nice it was to build stuff with that game, he replied something like " if you want to build something, take some wood, hammer and nails and build it. A game does not build anything."

Basically I would say that Minecraft is using a few trick, first it is using the popularity of Legos, kind of copying the building side of it but in a virtual world.

Second, it is using a very well know aspiration of teenager, the one for freedom. it does give the player a sensation of infinity and in so, feeling free.

Third, as a lonely world, even a total freedom, would be rapidly boring, the game is a multiplayer one. This way, kids "meet friends" in this virtual world and satisfy their need of belonging to a group.

So what is happening? those kids love to get together with their friends and play, this is not new. The same way they used to play in the street with their friends, they are now "free" to play with them but in a virtual world. However, all the different games and discussion they used to have in the street vanished as their only subject of communication and exchange is now around the game itself.
Even worse, they make "new friends" that they will never meet in real life! Everything is virtual, everything is an illusion, except their feeling.
And they totally dislike those who do not belong to their minecraft world... tell me about tolerance, open mind, curiosity...


Being aware of being watched

Tablet and smartphone are now part of teen's favorite toys. Some are even on facebook, youtube before being 13 years old (they are not supposed too if you follow the rules). Teen love to be watched! They feel pretty proud to have thousand of views of their latest video posted on Youtube and to have hundreds of "friends" on facebook.
However do they know that they are being watched?
Do they know that every post, message, photos, videos are being recorded?

Well if you can access your information and post from anywhere and any computer, that's mean they are in the Cloud. And what is the cloud?
The cloud is actually several center, platform, infrastructure where computers record and keep all data getting in the cloud, so you may access those from anywhere. you may read about it in Wikipedia for example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing

What appear to me essential to know as today is that you, me, them are being watched and recorded!
And as former employees of the NSA said : "if you want something to stay private: do not post it in the cloud"

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Still no time for TV

I continue posting about what I called "still no time for TV". I realize that many parents seem to feel the opposite, something more like "so much time for TV" or should I say "so much time for the screen" wishing they kids would spend more time doing something else.

I do hear many parents complaining about the time their children spend either watching TV, movies or playing video games.

So I continue my serie "still no time for TV"

After school on Friday, my kids had just enough time to start their homework, eat and go to bed to be up very early for their swim meet. And on Saturday, after the swim meet they just have time to continue their homework... Oh I wish school stop giving them so much homework so they will have some time to actually relax, play, read and do whatever they feel in the mood to do.

School believe that homework is important and that kids should have plenty of those. I disagree completely but it is not my choice anyway so we need to comply.

However, considering that my children have after school activities everyday (and they are not the only ones in that case), getting home no sooner than 6 pm and some days 7 pm, going to bed by 8 pm and in between having diner, homework is not welcome. They have very little time for it during the week and end up having to do it all over the week-end...

So, Saturday after swim meet, they do not have enough time to actually finish their homework as they need to go to bed early again to get up by 6 am for next day swim meet. I can already guess that tomorrow when they get home, they will simply have to get back to hopefully finish the homework and may have some rest, thanks to Veteran day which give them their Monday off.

So yes again: still no time for TV

Monday, April 22, 2013

So many 5th grader seemed obsessed by minecraft, what about it?

... One of the hardest things to deal with has been peer pressure. Playing electronic games is what middle school boys do for entertainment. Their social lives exist online. They take photos of their new shoes or the full moon and send them to one another on Instagram. They text instead of talk, and yes, they play a lot of Minecraft.
We did a test playdate with one of his friends last week and scripted what my son would say if the boy suggested they play Minecraft. "Nah, it's boring. Let's kick the soccer ball around outside." He pulled it off with success, but what would have happened if the kid insisted? He would have called me and I would have come gotten him. It's no fun being the only sober guy at a party of drunks.
What's most interesting to me is that my son actually seems to appreciate our intervention. He had a hard first few days going screen-less but now is pretty proud of himself. He has lost interest in some of his Minecraft-obsessed pals and moved closer to some soccer friends who spend endless hours bouncing a soccer ball off their feet and knees with the goal of getting 50 touches before losing ball control. He's up to at least 30... by Ann Brenoff...

Comment from JosephLavoieJr "I saw this happen in college when World of Warcraft came out... everyone on my floor Beta Tested the game, and I decided not to buy the full version when it came out. I went on to get a job in a research lab, join a fraternity, have various girlfriends throughout college, etc... Sadly, I cannot say the same for most of the guys that I had lived with!

Video games are a lot of fun, and can be incredibly addicting! I wish that my mother had regulated my usage while growing up! I never amounted to anything athletically, but never got fat... and always kept my grades A's and B's, so my parents never got on my case... but I must have played thousands and thousands of hours of games in middle and high school! Ugh... time wasted..."http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ann-brenoff/breaking-up-with-minecraf_b_1940252.html
... Video game addiction or video game overuse is seen most commonly in players of the persistent multiplayer gaming universe, or Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game -- MMORPG games for short, who make up 9.1% of gamers, and may overlap with other types of internet addiction or computer addiction. These games hold many attractions for gamers -- they are interactive, social, competitive, and happen in real time...by Elizabeth Hartney http://addictions.about.com/od/lesserknownaddictions/a/videogameadd.htm
...It does involve some use of logic and building/thinking/ spatial skills.
But it's mostly a huge colossal waste of time...
...Thumbs Down! Minecraft became such a source of tension in our household that we finally forbade it, even though we paid for it. 

The kids became so focused on it that, even with time restrictions and limitations they waited all day until their time to play came, talked about it incessantly, and tried myriad ways to wiggle in more time. Finally we restricted it only to weekends. Then they would skype with a friend and they would play online together in their free time, and this felt very intrusive to me. We finally found that whenever minecraft was on the family was in a bad mood for some reason or another, so we ditched it. The kids have survived. They understood our reasoning, and actually seemed somewhat relieved to be rid of it, in spite of their always being focused on it. It was amazing how nice things became when we finally got rid of it.

And yes, it is a colossal waste of time. I could see no benefit in it whatsoever. People try to make lame justifications for it, but I couldn't see the value. at. all...

By the way, those behind Minecraft literally flood the web with as many post as possible, as a result, if you do a research about it it is difficult to find opinion against it. It seems that the creator of the game had also cover all topics related to the game in order to convince users and their parents about the good and positive of it, They even managed to convince teachers! 
Anyway, you can also read on the last link the opinion of parents who do love minecraft. I do not know much about it and I do not believe I will anytime soon as we are a videogames free house :-)
But I can say that it does annoy my son to hear some of his friends speaking constantly and only about minecraft at each recess. He want to play, to move around but his favorite friends just sit and talk... Happily for him there is still some kids to play with, even if they are not his favorite friends... oh well, may be they will be sooner than later.

I wonder if your kid is a minecraft lover? and if he is, are you aware of his potential obsession with it? and if he is not, does he feel a little left out?