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December 28, 2010 / milesandhisfavorites

A Kid On Parenting: The Screen Calls

Now, I must admit something.  As a kid, I spend time in front of a screen.  Parents today have the natural instinct to think that kids shouldn’t spend much time on the computer or watching television.  Here’s the problem with that idea-it won’t work, and technology isn’t a bad thing.  There are many cases in which you can use technology to your advantage.  For example, here’s the lowdown on MMOGs.  Do you understand what I just said?  If you didn’t, MMOGs are Massively Multiplayer Online Games, where kids can create an avatar and enter a virtual world, where they can relax, hang out with friends, and just have fun.  Stereotypical parents of the world, I know you want your kids to bond with you and appreciate adults, so here’s what you can do.

First of all, don’t expect to see the word “influence” in here a lot.  Lots of parenting books use that word when describing screen time, and I hate it.  When you try to influence your kid’s choices, you only emulate yourself into your kids, and you certainly want them to just be themselves.  So here’s what you can do to help your child make good choices inside the virtual worlds of the MMOG.  First of all, know the game.  I once read a parenting book (Generation Text, if you must know) that wasn’t all that good, but mentioned something that really caught my attention.  It involved you getting taught by your child.  I know, it needs to be the other way around with you guys, but it can actually be a really good thing to turn the tables once in a while.  Let’s use the Cartoon Network MMOG Fusionfall (this should sound familiar) as an example.

If your child plays Fusionfall, and has all access, chances are he has some free profile space (kids can create more than one character on their account in some MMOGs).  Ask him if he can help you create a profile and help you learn how to play the game.  If he says yes, then voila, you have a new common interest!  Also, it is very important that you chat with your child about what he’s been doing in the game.  Make it a topic of discussion at the dinner table, like Current Events!  Believe it or not, despite being a goo-infested dystopia for the most part, the Fusionfall world actually has some very nice scenic areas!  Encourage your child to explore the game world, or observe monsters!  Despite how strange that sounds, it gives your child a chance to expand his possibilities!

Fusionfall is a very social place, with over seven million players (not all at one time, thank goodness).  That means that your child can make new friends and complete missions with said new friends!  However, there is a flip side to this, and I think you know it as well as I do-cyber bullying.  Yes, that awful thing some kids do to make themselves feel better about themselves!  Teach your child that they should never be a cyber bully.  There are many ways around cyber bullying in the Fusionfall world.  For example, there are many different forms of transportation.  Some go to many different places, so your child can just teleport away and the bully can’t find them!  This is one of the many ways of avoiding bullies on an MMOG.

You’ve heard of parents friending their kids on Facebook, right?  Well, if what I said a few paragraphs ago goes according to plan, you can make your own account and become friends with your kids!  You can meet up with your kids somewhere prominent (I would choose the entrance to the Sector V Infected Zone for those in the Future) and go on missions together, or just have fun!  Here’s how a successful adventure with your kids on Fusionfall might go.  There are two children and a mother.  They have met up at the entrance to the Sector V Infected Zone.  Let’s see how this goes:

Mother: Hi, guys.

Child #1: Hi.

Child #2: Hi.

Mother: Numbuh 2 has this awesome-looking mission, but it’ll take us a while to complete it.

Child #2: I met up with a couple of my friends by the fountain earlier, and they said that the Shocktanglers near the Infected Zone are really getting tougher!

Mother: What are Shocktanglers?

Child #1: You’ve never heard of Shocktanglers?

Child #2: They’re these monsters that hover above the ground, and have four long plug-like tentacles that can shock you!

Child #1: They’re pretty easy to take down, though.

Mother: Well, I am new here.  Let’s take down some Shocktanglers, then get started on Numbuh 2’s mission.

Child #1: Sounds good to me.

Child #2: Ditto.

Mother: Okay.  What strategy do we want to use?

Child #2: My friends scouted the area already.  According to them, most Shocktanglers are south of the KND Treehouse, in the general vicinity of the fountain.

Child #1: I’ll use my Eduardo Nano.  He has a Radar ability.

Mother: Um, what?

Child #1: Nanos with a Radar ability can show nearby monsters on your Nanocom map.

Mother: Okay, then.  Where are the most Shocktanglers?

Child #1: I’ll need to scout for a few minutes.  Give me some time.

Child #2: Roger that.

Mother: We’ll practice our jumping and balance inside the Infected Zone.

Child #1: Got it.

After five minutes, Child #1 returns

Mother: Good to see you.

Child #2: Well, what have you got?

Child #1: Looks like the fountain is attracting a lot of Shocktanglers.

Mother: Then we need to hold the fountain.

Child #2: I’ll contact my friends.

Child #1: Let’s go.

The three players arrive at the fountain to see a group of Shocktanglers patrolling the area, picking off players

Child #2: My friends can’t make it.

Child #1: We can take them!

Mother: I’ll distract them with my shattergun.  You two flank them and we’ll take them down.

The mother blasts the group, prompting them to chase after her

Child #1: Now!  Fire, fire, fire!

Child #2: I’ve got one!

Mother: I’ve got two!

Child #1: Yes!

Mother: Okay, guys, now let’s handle that mission!

As you can see, all three were working together very well.  Warning: Results May Vary.  Remember to set limits on screen time, especially with younger children.  Children ages 10-13 should only spend an hour and a half to two and a half hours on screens, unless they are doing something with the family.  ABC Family is good for that stuff.  See you next time, when we go over the worst parenting horror stories in existence-medical work.

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