Vol. 2 Issue 26 | July 1, 2016

Three Things This Week

1. Selfie Dad

What it is: A Washington state dad asked his daughter to tone down her risqué Instagram posts. When she wouldn’t, he signed up for Instagram and began posting his own hilarious “sexy selfies” replicating his daughter’s poses.

Why it’s important: Instead of nagging or harping on his daughter, “Selfie Dad” got creative and utilized satire to get his point across. It’s one thing to tell your children something is inappropriate, it’s quite another to actually show them. And his pictures are all kinds of wrong!

Do this: Celebrate #SocialMediaDay by engaging with your children online and use those interactions as a way to model appropriate, healthy social media behavior.

2. Are We There Yet?

What it is: This holiday weekend marks the unofficial beginning of summer in the U.S., and what’s more “American” than a good old fashioned family road trip?

Why it’s good: Whether it’s a trip to the beach or the mountains, take advantage of this time together to create lasting family memories. Here’s a survival guide for your trip.

Do this: Put down the screens and go old school by playing the license plate game or “I Spy.” Divide the time by letting your teen drive, listen to an audio book together, share stories from your childhood, buy a paper map to study points of interest on your route, and don’t forget the snacks! Enjoy this precious time together, because research suggests your kids will never forget it, and they will pass on those memories to their own kids many years from now.

3. Marry Your Phone

What it is: A man recently married his iPhone in a symbolic gesture.

Why it’s important: The man, Aaron Chervenak, documented his “wedding” and posted it to YouTube, saying, “We connect with our phones on so many emotional levels. We look to it for solace, to calm us down, to put us to sleep, to ease our minds, and to me, that’s also what a relationship is about.” Though the wedding isn’t legally binding, he brings up interesting points through the gesture.

Do this: Watch the video with teens, then begin a discussion of how our phones are or are not different than our relationships and if we need to start treating them differently.

Thing to Know:
E3 Video Game Conference

E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo), the video game equivalent of an Apple conference, was this month. Video game companies showed off new consoles, gadgets, and games that will release over the next year, all of which the gamers in your life are now anticipating and discussing. Here are a few trends from the conference to look out for:

1. They’re becoming more and more immersive.
The goal of improving graphics and selling new ways to play games is always for greater immersion (the emergence of VR and this launch video for the new Xbox Project Scorpio console cast the vision for the gaming industry pretty well). Video games may be the easiest medium in which to “get lost,” meaning that they’re only becoming more appealing and therefore harder to use wisely.

2. Their budgets are growing because their income is growing.
Some games cost hundreds of millions of dollars. 2014’s major release Destiny cost $500 million in total production and marketing costs (whereas the movie Captain America: Civil War cost $250 million). If “movies are the highest popular art of our time,” as Stephen King put it, then we should consider games just as formidable a force in entertainment, given the amount of resources invested in their creation and their growing popularity.

3. Stories drive appeal as much as or more than gameplay itself.
Several of the games announced involve lots of storytelling. The tasks gamers perform in these games aren’t entertaining in and of themselves; instead, they fit into the context of a story that makes the events feel like they matter. For example, Detroit: Become Human (warning: violence) asks players to navigate difficult moral situations in a futuristic drama between androids and humans. Characters in games need to be relatable, and each scenario in games easily parallel TV episodes.

For many of us who don’t understand the gaming appeal, it can be easy to dismiss video games as pointless or silly. Instead, we not only need to allow gamers to enjoy their preferred form of entertainment (and play with them to show we care!), but, more importantly, we need to acknowledge how influential they are and disciple gamers accordingly. Here are some questions for your gamers: What drew you into your favorite game? What was the underlying theme or message in a story-based game you’ve played? Do you agree or disagree with that message? Are you excited to play VR games? Why?