When my kids were little, I belonged to a co-op preschool. At the co-op, we had monthly parent education meetings. During these meetings, we shared what was going on with our little ones. I usually left feeling relieved that my child was not the only one who could not write their name and had a few strategies for how to make carrots more interesting.
Often I think back to these meetings, when I give my digital parenting presentations. My favorite part is talking with parents and hearing about what is happening in their house. Most parents are asking the same questions. Is my kid the only one who is on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat? Who are they sharing with on all these sites? Does everyone really have a smartphone? Usually, we discover most of our kids are doing similar things. For better or for worse, we are all in the same boat.
Last week, the Pew Research released Teen, Social Media and Technology Overview which answered some of these same questions. Pew Research asked American teens, ages 13-17, about what technology they used, what social networks they frequented and what they were doing online. As I read through this study, I found it reflected what I am seeing and hearing from parents.
My 10-year-old has been begging to join Clash of Clans. I knew a lot of his friends were playing the game but I had not really looked at it. I told him one rainy day we would sit down together and check out Clash of Clans. A few weeks ago, as the rain drops fell, I sat down for a tour and he wrote a review. So, first my son will tell you about the game and why kids loves it then I will fill you in on what you need to know.
From my 10-year-old:
“Clash of clans is game where you build a base, train troops and attack others bases, or play single player. If you win, you get trophies, which moves you up in leagues. What league you are in is based on how many trophies you have. You lose trophies if you lose an attack or someone attacks you when you’re not playing. The leagues are bronze, silver, gold, masters and champions.
In order to join a clan, you need to get 40,000 in gold to rebuild your clan castle. You get gold by building or updating your gold mines. When you finish your clan castle you join a clan so members of your clan can donate you troops. You can also go into a clan war which is where you battle other clans.
Kids like clash of clans because you get to build a base and attack other clans and people. I like building a base because you can make just the way you like it and if you start to not like your base you can change any time you like. Kids also like interacting with people in your clan and on the global chat because you can work together to make a good clan and win clan wars and everyone loves attacking because it is just fun.”
I agree Clash of the Clans is a fun game. Kids get to create a village as well as plan battle strategies. The rating on iTunes is 9+ due to cartoon violence. The game does collect some personal information so it requires users to be at least 13 years old. We had to initially connect using my Google+ profile. After logging in, we were able to go in to settings and disconnect these accounts so my friends were not bombarded with Clash of Clan updates. Continue reading
Tablets and other devices, with simple to use touch screens, make it easy for younger kids to surf and play games online. Not surprising, for kids under 8, their time with screens have tripled. It is challenging to establish boundaries for using these devices. These devices are not only at home but can travel with us throughout our day. Unlike TV shows that are 30 or 60 minutes, playing a game or surfing online doesn’t have a definite ending. Kids can play for as long as they want.
Screens are a part of our kids lives. So, it is essential that kid learn about having a healthy media diet. A healthy diet consists of good choices as well as limits. For younger kids, parents may find the interactive story of Ash & Ollie is a great way to kick off a conversation about healthy online habits.
The Adventures of Ash & Ollie’s: Screen Time follows 2 brothers throughout their day. As their day progresses, the brothers share their love of technology as well as the rules for its use. For example, the brothers talk about how screens are not allowed at the dinner table or in the car except for long trips. Before they can go online, they must complete their school work and chores. The story is told in a matter of fact way from the kids’ perspective about how screens work in their family.
After reading the story, kids can play a game or create a photo album. In Rocket Racer, kids race Ash and Ollie through a minefield of clouds to collect stars. Kids choose how much time is allowed for the game. Once the timer goes off, the game is over. Kids can also take pictures and create a photo album about things they love to do. Both the game and photos are a nice compliment to the story.
The brothers are 5 and 7 and I would say 2-7 is the proper age group. My youngest (10) was a bit too old for Ash & Ollie. Younger kids will love the simple graphics and following the brothers adventures. This story is a great way to start the conversation about living a healthy digital life. Parents may want to incorporate some of these tips and limits introduced in Ash & Ollie in their own families.
Ash & Ollie’s Adventure: Screen Time is available in Google Play and iTunes for $2.99. It is part of the Fingerprint network of games developed in partnership with Yummico. I have reviewed a few other games by Fingerprint and find it is an excellent resource for parents looking for fun, educational games for kids.