Happy Friday, August 3 Edition

It’s Friday, which means it’s almost the weekend! It also means here’s a little list of yummy links to gobble up.

How to stream Making It – You know you want to watch Making It, the crafting competition with Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. If you’re like me and never watch TV when it actually airs, you’re in luck! There are lots of streaming options.

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ZigZag is my new favorite podcast! Two women are taking on journalism by starting their own company and this is their journey. And they’re both moms! The host, Manoush Zomorodi is one of my personal heroes.

A Leisurely Pace is a fantastic little piece about choosing not to make “meaningful progress” in a video game. Because that feels like work. I don’t want playing games to feel like work. That’s the whole point!

Braxwolf discusses playing video games when your kids get older. How do you find time when they go to bed later and there’s only so much overlap in your interests? That is one good thing about having a two year old: early bed times and long naps.

If I’ve learned one thing this week it’s that people are upset over Blizzard’s narrative direction leading up to the new expansion. The MMO Syndicate has one of my favorite theories: the possibility of switching sides. Unlikely, but I’m imagining a long and epic quest chain involved. Fun idea, right?

This Wired piece about writing a short story following rules generated by a bot is from December, but it’s new to me. The rules the bot came up with were fascinating, particularly how much dialog women could have. The story suffered from all the required adverbs. I try to avoid adverbs in my writing. The article includes an annotated version of the actual story. Despite the excessive adverbs, it has an interesting concept: what if we discover life on another planet, but all we can do is watch them from a distance?

Are we alone out there? Cover photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash.

 

Plans for Blaugust

Happy Blaugust! I’m so excited to be part of this terrific community of bloggers. If it wasn’t for this event, I’d still be overthinking the whole blogging thing. This blog would not exist. You wouldn’t be reading it. My fiancé and I wouldn’t have started playing World of Warcraft again. (Yeah, after more overthinking we decided to give it a go. We rolled a couple level 1 Goblins just for fun. Let me know if you want to play with us!)

The concept of the initial Blaugust was to write one post every day August. Blaugust Reborn has different goal tiers. I’m aiming for 15 posts. I could do more, but I’m a parent, and I have a full-time job. Sometimes writing a blog post during my lunch break isn’t what I want to spend it doing. I don’t particularly like doing thing-a-day style challenges. 15 gives me enough days off in case something comes up but I’ll still get the Silver award. If I write more, awesome. If a catastrophe happens and I end up writing less, oh well.

Lucky for us, I already have a plethora of post ideas bumbling around in my head. Stay tuned for thoughts on topics such as:

  • Nerding out when you’re in a relationship with a Jock
  • Why “nerd” is a way better term than “geek”
  • Protecting your data online
  • Kids and online bullying and harassment
  • Adventure game recommendations
  • Parents in video games
  • Learning to code
  • How parenting has changed since we were kids
  • Pictures of my cats
  • Screenshots of my adorable shoblin

If you have a suggestion of a topic that intersects parenting and technology, please send me a note. I’m also looking for stories and insights from parents of older kids. When do you give them a cell phone? How much should you monitor what they’re doing online? As a parent of a 2-year-old, these are things I’m thinking worrying about already.

August makes me think of sunflowers. Photo by Marko Blažević on Unsplash.

 

Anonymity, Kids, and The Internet

“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”

Except–that’s not true anymore. Social media killed Internet anonymity. That can be both good (it’s a lot harder to be an asshole online and get away with it) and bad (no more anonymous soul-bearing). Since I am blogging about parenting and my family, I have to decide if I want to use real names.

I rarely post photos of my child on my Instagram. If I do, they’re usually from behind, at a weird angle, from a long distance, or heavily filtered through Prisma. Facebook is a different story. I’m constantly hearing from relatives I barely get to see in real life how much they love seeing photos of my son on Facebook. As long as he doesn’t object, I’ll continue to post those.

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Thanks, Prisma, for allowing me to share this image of my son pulling his wagon without guilt about posting his face all over the Internet.

Something feels off-putting about the mommy insta-celebrities who constantly post photos of their children to shill products. I try not to be judgmental about others’ parenting unless they’re harming themselves or others. This is not a “mommy wars” blog.

I’m using my own real name, and I’ll refer to my fiancé as my fiancé until mid-September, when he becomes my husband. But what about my kid? Calling him “my kid” feels weird. What if I have another kid? I’m not going to use his real name. I actually had a post written about why I was going to use it, and then I changed my mind. I don’t think it’s worth it.

Safety is one reason. If someone wanted to find his real name, they can. It’s 2018. But I don’t want to make it easier for them. I’m also concerned about bullying. While I’d rather kids be taught not to bully, I’d hate for a bully to find an upcoming post on potty training and use it as bullying material.

Because I don’t want to keep calling him “my kid” I’ve decided to use a made-up name for him. Henceforth he shall be called “Indy” for his independent nature. It’s not his real name. It’s not even similar to his real name. As a fake internet pseudonym coined by his mother, it suits him.

Parents, do you post photos of your kid or use their real name publicly online? Why or why not?

 

Should You Play Video Games with your Toddler?

Some of my fondest gaming memories come from playing with my little brother. He’s 8 years younger than me, and I’d often let him shoot or fight while I moved the character around on the screen. What I don’t really remember is how old we were when we played together, and I’d like to know, because I’ve been wondering:

When will I be able to play games like this with my 2 1/2 year old? Could we start now?

Currently the only game I ever play “with” him is Pokemon Go. I’m not counting pushing him around in the stroller while I visit PokeStops. He likes to watch me do maintenance tasks like transfer and heal my Pokemon. (We refer to them as Pokemans at home, but I’ll spare you all.) He likes to click on the Pokemon so they do their little action and spin them around on the screen. It’s not much, but he becomes quite whiny when it’s time to be done, so I’m not inclined to do it with him very often regardless of how much he asks to see “Poke-Hands.”

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This tiny Snorlax photo was taken by Josh Hallett on Flickr. Isn’t it cute?

Should you let your toddler watch you play video games? Would this allow you to get a bit more gaming time in and bond with your kid at the same time, or would it just be frustrating for both of you? Here are a few questions to ask yourself to determine if this might be worthwhile.

Can your toddler handle watching without participating?

The latest episode of one of my favorite podcasts, Massively OP, not only MENTIONS THIS BLOG (!!!) but includes one of the hosts (Justin) discussing playing games while his kids watch. My child is not ready to handle this yet. I mostly play on the PC, and he can’t deal with being around someone on a computer without wanting to use the keyboard and mouse himself. This is completely understandable. He’s a toddler, and to him a keyboard is just a slab covered with buttons. How could he possibly resist?

You might get away with giving your toddler a spare keyboard or controller so they think they’re playing, even if their button smashing doesn’t actually do anything. You’d have to be sure they wouldn’t realize what was going on, or just want to use your controller for no other reason than it’s the one you’re using.

Is the content appropriate for your toddler?

I leave it up to individual parents to decide what content is appropriate for their children. If you really want to play something super violent and you don’t want your kid exposed to that kind of content, you might want to wait to play that particular game after they go to bed. Check your Steam list and determine if there’s anything you want to play that you feel comfortable playing in front of your kid.

Are you concerned about screen time?

Disclaimer: I’m not a pediatrician, psychologist, child development specialist, or parenting “expert” so if you’re concerned about screen time, I highly encourage you to do your own research. That said, I think if you’re actively engaged interacting with your child while you’re playing, it seems like more quality time than sticking them alone to zone out in front of a TV show.

In my personal experience, my toddler becomes a mini tyrant once the TV or phone is turned off. This discourages us from wanting to give him any to avoid the affront to our ears when it’s time to stop.

Do you just not want to?

In the podcast episode, Justin talks about how his kids issue instructions at him when he plays The Sims. Maybe you don’t want this. Maybe you want to make your own decisions and not have a high pitched voice telling you what to do for once. Maybe you just want to play your game by yourself.

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The Verdict

I’m passing on playing video games with my son for now. I think it will be something fun we can do together when he’s a little older, when he’s not ripping the keyboard out of my hands and throwing a tantrum when it’s time to put it away.

For those of you with toddlers, do they ever watch you play video games? How does it go? For those with older kids, how old were they when you started gaming together?