New NintendoDS will have a browser and digital video capability

Posted by dkidwell on February 15th, 2006 — Posted in Nintendo DS, parenting, technology


The new DS will be lighter, brighter, and sleeker – but not only that.  You’ll be able to buy a cartridge with the Opera web browser, and using Nintendo’s wifi, you’ll be able to browse the internet.  This is really incredible – no other handheld or console system has implemented a web browser.  They’ll also have a digital video add-on, and they’ve announced a broadcast service that will stream high definition video.

The DS already has cartridges available for learning various foreign languages, brain games, and the rich and artistic Electroplankton.  What next?

Will interactive developers in the states be able to develop games for the DS now?  Ones that leverage the stylus and voip?  My niece just finished months of working with a virtual tutor online through Sylvan learning.  I can just imagine similar implementations for the DS.

The system is launching in Japan on March 2nd.  Gamermom can’t wait to hear how it is received!

Need more details now?

Instant Messaging with your kids

Posted by dkidwell on February 11th, 2006 — Posted in parenting

So this isn’t a proper game related post, but my families facility with IM is directly related to the amount of time we’ve spent online.

My oldest is IMing me in another window.  He’s upstairs and researching a project on the Norse god, Thor.  I find cool things, IM them to him, and he finds cool stuff and IMs back.  He is an incredibly fast typist.

Now, before you criticize our not-so-long-distance relationship, please understand that I’ve been pretty dern sick and not much fun to be to close too!   But I love IMing with my almost-teenager, and I’ve already told him that I hope we do this even after he’s grown and left home (to which he IMed back “Me too mom” – how fantastic is that?

I do not fear my kids spending ‘too much’ time gaming, or on the computer generally.  They aren’t on the machines as much as I am, and all have active lives on the ball court or bikes or what have you.  On the contrary, the time my kids spend online interacting with us is very valuable.  Many teens are more facile with MySpace and Instant Messengers than their parents.   My kids are exposed to conversations about etiquette in these new interactive spaces.  We actually talk about how what you type says about you.  We have similiar conversations about emailing ‘thank-you’ notes that my own mom (and Sister Mary Gregory) taught me when I was his age.

I suppose that all parents strive to teach their children to be successful in the cultures into which they are born.  They hope that their children navigate their lives in such a way that they are even more successful than their parents.   I believe that our future will be much more virtual than we can anticipate.

How you present yourself over IM, text messaging, email and whatever other wonders we come up with will be directly related to how successful you are in this new world.   The kids who can craft a complex and yet cogent sentence and skillfully use these new media will be well positioned when they want to go out and find jobs or establish themselves professionally.

(And, as a side note, my son talks to me MORE via IM than in real life.  Maybe it’s less awkward?  Who knows?  Doesn’t matter, I love it.)

Spend time with your kids exploring the Olympic games

Posted by dkidwell on February 10th, 2006 — Posted in parenting

The Olympic website has some very nifty tools for exploring the Olympic games with your kids.

Each sport has a page dedicated to it that tells you about the sports, the athletes, and the venues and includes the full schedule and photographs.  You can learn about what it really takes to compete in the ‘skeleton’ or or ‘luge’ or ‘curling.’  Each page also has a nice flash animation that details just how the sport works, and will show you strategic techniques, demonstrate how the event is scored, and show you all the equipment.  For an example, check it out: Torino 2006 – Snowboard
Talk to your kids about how these athletes do what they do.    Some of the athletes, like Sasha Cohen, have sites of their own, where they blog and you can read about how they got where they are.

If you are worried that your kids are spending too much time playing console games and not enough time outside, go check out the Olympics and maybe you’ll find something inspiring.

Super Bowl Sunday

Posted by dkidwell on February 5th, 2006 — Posted in ages 4-8, parenting, sons

Super Bowl Sunday is one of those family days that is very nearly a holiday in our house.  The week has been full of speculation about the game, sadness that the season is over, and softball and t-ball tryouts.  First signs of spring in our house.

My youngest just told me that he only watches football games where Texas is playing because the only players he likes play for UT, the Dallas Cowboys or the Houston Texans.  He’s clearly not been bit by the fantasy football bug, which would disperse his player fan base across the NFL.

He associates playing football with great strength, and is rather impressed with folks that play multiple sports.   He offered words of wisdom for the men that take the field today:

  • watch out for rocks that might be on the field.  They would really hurt when you get tackled and are in that dogpile.
  • don’t wear your glasses, but put in your circle things [contacts] so you can see.
  • don’t wear puffy hair

Now, I showed him a picture of Troy Polamalu, who’s hair is reknown and inspires fan-wigs.  His advice for Troy?  “He may not actually need a helmet – his hair is SO PUFFY that the men will bounce right off.”   We’ll have to see how that tactic influences the Seahawks offense this evening.

Teaching kids to be polite in game

Posted by dkidwell on February 4th, 2006 — Posted in ages 12 +, ages 9-11, console games, parenting

It’s early on a Saturday and my neice and nephew are over. Five kids have embarked on a raucus round of gaming on our game cube. With Mario themes at the decibal level that seems painful on a Saturday morning, the kids are haggling over who gets to play which character and what strategies to play.

On occassion, they can get really terse with one another. The oldest of the bunch, my son, is showing that ‘oldest child attitude’ and barking orders at the others. I listened from another room, until I went in to make a cup of tea.

I called him over, and pointed out how from the other room, he was barking almost as much as our Great Pyrenees. (Any Pyr owners out there will understand, but they can be quite the barkers when they’ve decided they have something to say.)

My kid looks at me, a bit hestitant as if he’s in trouble. He is not. Kids squabbling is part of working out dynmics of kid-dom, a place where Mom’s have little domain. But, he understood, and said “Oh, I didn’t realize that…ok.”

The last hour has been just as loud, but filled with more random singing and w00ts and hollars.

I won’t be around for most of the times when the kids have opportunities to interact with others their age. From the moment they are on the bus, I lose sight of how they treat others. As they get older, that is just more pronounced. So why not take a moment here, and now, to address it? Not in a confrontational way – the idea is not to model barking – but in a sensible “hey, I noticed this…” kind of way.

This isn’t solely a gamer mom tactic. You’ll have this opportunity with other things certainly. But games provide a unique cause for everyone to work together towards a goal. In multiplayer games, someone is likely to take on leadership and forge a strategy. Is a 12 year old too young to learn to be a strong leader that people like working with? Nah, the timing is perfect.

Now, if only the dog would stop barking…