13 posts categorized "Screen Time"

April 11, 2007

Author Q&A: Anastasia Goodstein of "Totally Wired"

Book_cover At BlogHer Business 07 in New York I met many interesting people. One of them was Anastasia Goodstein, author of the book "Totally Wired: What Teens and Tweens are Really Doing Online". She told me that she will be in Burlingame, CA on Monday, April 16 (7pm) at Books Inc. for a book signing (ABC7news coverage) . The event is sponsored by Girls for a Change - a Silicon Valley mentoring program. When I looked at the site, I realized that I had seen two of the girls from that organization speak (yes speak) at a BlogHer 06 session. They were so composed and knowledgeable - the program must be working.

I thought it would be interesting to ask Anastasia Goodstein a few questions about her book. Listed below are the Q&A questions with their answers. We are also having a book give-away, so please visit the post on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog for information on how you can win a copy of the book.

Interview with Anastasia Goodstein, author of TOTALLY WIRED

1. How is the Internet effecting the social rituals of tweens? What are they doing on the internet?

Tweens are just beginning to really use the internet to socialize with peers. They're still very much into playing games online or on CD-ROM. Depending on how strict parents are, many tweens can begin to use instant messenger and chat with friends online. I've definitely heard from middle school teachers that 10-13 year olds are on MySpace -- they're just lying about their ages. But there are also a new crop of virtual worlds popping up for tweens that are marketing themselves as a safer alternative to MySpace, which is 14 and up. These include Imbee.com, Club Penguin, Whyville, Nicktropolis and several virtual fashion sites like Girlsense and Gaiaonline. Zoey's Room is also a great non-profit site for tween girls that's both fun and educational. The challenge is that most commercial sites don't really have a full proof way to keep out adults who may want to sneak in -- that said, the fact that they are marketing themselves as sites for kids and tweens, means they are working on it. I think tweens like these virtual world where they can earn/win virtual money, again it's the game-like quality that appeals to them. And girls love dressing up their avatars -- it's like virtual paper dolls!

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March 30, 2007

A Son Who Cried, Concerned Parents With a YouTube Dilemna

"Why won't you let me watch videos on YouTube!" sniffle, sniffle, cry, cry, said oldest (8 year old) son.

"Because some of the videos are not appropriate for children, so we need to go on that site together" said concerned parents (my husband and I). They wondered what similar things they cried about as a child, but could not think of anything.

"You can watch a few videos before school tomorrow morning if you go to bed now" said concerned dad feeling relieved that he found a good bargaining tool to use with his son.

Concerned dad searched YouTube that night and found funny Diet Coke + Mentos video (by the way, credos to Diet Coke and Mentos for creative marketing and a new spin on the standard vinegar & baking soda volcano experiment even if they had nothing to do with the video ).

The next morning.....

Concerned dad used watching YouTube videos as a bargaining tool to have son get dressed, eat breakfast, brush his teeth, be nice to his brothers, and promise to listen for the rest of his life. Concerned mom was very proud of concerned dad for his advanced negotiation skills, but was somewhat worried that she would be cleaning Diet Coke off of every surface in the backyard very soon.

Oldest son and twin preschool brothers watched the Diet Coke + Mentos video, but asked to watch Pokemon next. All the boys enjoyed the Pokemon video the best, an innocent video with still pictures of characters with the theme song running in the background.


Concerned parents took out oldest son's wireless card on his laptop and only allow him use internet use on family computer with parents in the room. The family computer has K9 Web Protection parental control software installed, which initially restricted access to YouTube. They allowed access to YouTube (using administrator level access that oldest son does not have the password to) because they really like the funny videos.

December 13, 2006

Video Games, or Not

Video Orginally posted at the Silicon Valley Moms Blog

Throughout the years, I have seen many families deal with the issue of whether to have video games or not. Many with multiple kids end up buying some sort of video games, and try to implement limits in their use. I always thought I would never buy them, just like I held out to that last possible moment with my first son to introduce him to TV. Well, that moment is here and I had to decide whether to introduce video games into our house or not.

My oldest son is 8, and he has his own laptop that was assembled by his uncle from used parts. But since I pulled the wireless card because of Internet use concerns, he just is not excited to use it. I always seem to have multiple kids over my house at a time, and we have lots of gross motor play toys/activities to keep them busy. I don't have help during the day, and have just started working at home. Sometimes I need a break, some quiet activity to settle down the group. I have arts and crafts, project supplies, board games, blah blah blah. I know the anti-TV radicals would say stick to the project activities, but I have seen that does not always work. Or maybe they can come over to my house and try to entertain 3 - 6 active kids for hours at a time, especially on rainy days! So I came to the conclusion that some type of limited screen time was acceptable.  But deciding what type of screen time was the hardest decision. 

  • TIVo gave me the control to record TV programs that I found acceptable, then my son figured out how to use TIVo. I looked into KidZone, but have not had the time to set it up.
  • Laptop use is out because I pulled the wireless card. Unless I want to start buying lots of computer games. Or figure out a way to secure internet access.
  • He has an iHome and iPod software on his computer which allows him to play his iPod music in his room. He loves playing music, but that does not always interest his friends.

The last choice is (yikes) video games. Some of my son's friends have race car and Star Wars video games, which I think are fine. But what happens when I introduce them into my house? Will they be attracted to the video games over the important social and gross motor skill activities? I became completely paranoid that this would lead to a future of sedentary activities for my sons... They would become a couch potatoes and it would be my fault for buying that first video game....

Then I came to my senses. First of all, my sons are the most active kids I know so introducing some down time would not change that. Then I realized that my mental health hinged on having small chunks of time each day that I am not in charge of entertainment activities. I embraced having that time to myself and headed to the store.

The first time I chickened out and purchased a 9 in 1 combo game table to put in the garage. Which is still in the box.Leapsterlmax

Then my husband decided to go to a family event with my oldest son, so I decided that the time was right to buy a handheld gaming system. I purchased the Leapster L-Max. I gave it to my son yesterday, he opened the box and set everything up on his own, including figuring out how to plug it into the TV. My 4 year old twins sat next to him while he played the educational games (math mission, nascar math, spiderman spelling & reading, etc).  They cheered their older brother on while he solved the math, reading, and spelling problems. Although he complained of doing homework, the nascar math had him praticing addition and subtraction without even realizing it. The games had a cool surfer dude that appeared to say "awesome" after a game is completed correctly. The math mission even had a reward system, each correct calculation earned a dollar value that was assigned depending on how many correct answers were completed. The console has a pen which is good for fine motor skills (ok, that may be a stretch but any writing activities are considered good pratice in my house).

My three boys were sitting and learning while I cooked dinner. Not so bad for a video game, even if my 8 year old calls it almost a gameboy. Any other thoughts on video and handheld games?



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