Archive for Technology

Digital Parenting 101

Posted on Communication, General, Technology September 1, 2018 by Mary George

As the school year begins and our to-do lists grow, the idea of getting through the first month of school can seem daunting. To add to the paperwork, meetings, and activities is the extra layer of parenting that we cannot lose sight of – technology – smartphones, apps, social media and gaming. Our children, otherwise known as “digital natives,” have access to the world that we never knew at their ages. For parents, it can be overwhelming and exhausting to the point that many turn a blind eye without giving direction to their children as to how to be respeonsible online. Think about it this way – would you drop your child off in the middle of Times Square in New York City with no guidance or instruction? Access to the world wide web is no different. They need age appropriate structure and guidance as to their usage…but how? Here comes the Digital Parent –

 

Below, we have put together a few ideas and links to help lighten your “beginning of the school year” load when it comes to our children’s technology use. We hope that these help!

 

Communication – Talk about being safe online – the age of your child depends on the discussion.

  • Ask younger children to think about being online like they would going on a field trip. Do not talk to people you do not know – stranger danger. Ask for help if you need it. Go to trusted adults if you have a problem or if someone is bothering you.

  • Older kids need to understand what cyberbullying is – define it and explain it. Help them to understand what it means to be an Upstander and if they see something online that they are not comfortable with in texts, social media or even a picture, to come to you or another trusted adult. WiredSafety is a great resource to help facilitate the discussion.
  • In addition to the above tip, Teenagers need to be aware of their digital footprint. Everything that they post on social media can be accessed and colleges and college athletic scouts pay attention to their online persona.

Contracts– Social media/smartphone contracts between you and your child.

No devices in the bedrooms – children need time to turn off and shut down. Not to mention sleep!

Stay up to date on current apps, social media platforms and be aware of who they are texting and chatting with.  Common Sense Media is a wonderful resource to help guide you.

Device free dinners. Take time to check in with you children. It is good for them to know that they have 100% of your attention.

Check out our resource page for further links to help guide you to keep your children safe online.

We also give workshops for parents on “Navigating Technology & Social Media with Your Child”  as well as workshops for children “#DigitalGeneration” and “Technology: Gaming & Social Media 102.”


–Mary & Claire

Fortnite – Through the Eyes of a Middleschooler

Posted on General, Technology May 15, 2018 by Mary George

 A few weeks ago we blogged about the Fortnite Craze that has hit every middle school, high school, university, and beyond. We received many responses from our blog but the one that stood out the most was from a middle school student giving his perspective – a very thoughtful and important perspective to understand.

Every time I turn on my Xbox One and sign in, I find usually at least 10 friends of mine are also online. And most, if not all, are playing Fortnite, the most recent craze and must-have for middle schoolers, high schoolers, college students, and even some adults.

 

Fortnite emerged as the hottest video game around September this past year. And while all my friends were getting good at it, I waited until Christmas when I could finally play it. But why, and how, is Fortnite, a game that came out in 2011, all of a sudden this popular?

 

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Background

 

In case you aren’t familiar with this video game that can be played on most electronic devices, including phones, Xboxes, and computers, then here is a basic overview of the game.

 

You and around 99 other players all load into one server, where the last one standing wins. The game starts on an island not accessible after the Battle Bus takes off. The bus carries you over the map, where you can jump out at any point and choose a landing location. Some of the most popular locations include;

 

Tilted Towers, an urban area with lots of skyscrapers

Retail Row, an area with shops and a few houses

Salty Springs, a quite mid-map town with some houses

Fatal Fields, a rural-themed location with barns and corn crops

 

Once you land, you are immediately equipped with a pickaxe, which is best used to break things, such as trees, rocks, and walls. Once you find a weapon, which vary in type, rarity (the rarer guns are more effective) and ammunition used. Along with guns, you can find traps, healing items, and building resources.

 

The building resources are wood, brick and metal. Breaking different things scattered across the map will grant you different kinds of building resources. Building is vital in game, whether its used to scale a mountain or  protect a player from incoming bullets.

The types of traps include damage traps, which damage other players, launch pads, which make for a quick getaway, and campfires, which heal.

There are a wide variety of healing items that come in different rarities and that are useful in different moments. They include;

 

Bandages, which give you 15 health each

Med kits, which restore you to 100 health

Shield potions, which grant you 50 shield, or armor

Mini shields, which grant you 25 shield

Slurp juices, which give you 25 health and 25 shield over a 25 second period (one health and one shield per second)

Chug Jugs, which restore your health and shield to 100

 

Using weapons, such as rifles, grenade launchers, shotguns, and snipers, the 100 or less players battle it out and see who is the last one standing. A player is eliminated when they lose all their health. The other player can collect the loot of the eliminated player, which is useful in gaining more traps, resources, heals, ammo, and upgrading weapons.

 

As the match progresses, the “ring” closes in. The ring is a circular area in which players must be within. Players outside the ring take damage from the “storm”, a purple mist. The storm can eliminate people if they are not careful. The ring shrinks as the game goes on so that the players are forced to battle with one another and not hide.

 

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The Rise of Fortnite

 

Fortnite came out 7 years ago, but recently became popular because of a few reasons. It has changed so much, for the better in the eyes of gamers, and for the worse in the eyes of parents pleading their kids to get off the headsets and explore the real world.

 

Price

 

Downloading Fortnite on your PlayStation4, Xbox, Computer, or iPhone costs a grand total of – zilch. Zero, zip, nothing. Fortnite is free. Gamers are in no need to ask their moms or dads for $30.00, the cost of Player Unknown Battlegrounds (PUBG), a similar game to Fortnite that has lost popularity partly due to the cost.

 

 

Bandwagon

 

Fortnite has benefitted from the snowball effect. As more and more people began playing the game, its gained popularity. It is at the point now where if you don’t play, you still understand how Fortnite works due to hours upon hours of hearing your friends talk about it. Then, you are convinced to play and join the bandwagon. And the trend continues. As of April 4th, around 45 Million people play Fortnite, with an average of about 3 Million concurrent users. That number will keep going up, at least for now.

 

Fitting In

 

Nobody wants to be without friends, especially in middle and high school. From an 8th grader’s perspective, I can tell you most if not all the “popular” kids have and constantly play Fortnite. Want to be part of that friend group?  Start by playing Fortnite on the same platform as those kids.

 

Play With Friends

 

There are 3 different modes in Fortnite; solo, duo, and squad. Want to play with your friend? Then cue up duos, and play together in the same game on the same team. More friends want to play? Squads is for up to 4 players, and you also play in the same game as your squad mates.

 

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Debate: Yes or No?

 

Parents everywhere are asking this question. Do I give in to my son or daughter and let them play, or hold strong?

Yes: Let Them Play

 

Even though it mat be against your initial instinct, maybe allowing your child or children to play this new craze isn’t so bad.

 

Stress Relief

 

Maybe after a 5-day school week with 3 tests and a project due, your child is super stressed and worried about his grades. All his/her friends are going home Friday to play Fortnite, and maybe letting your son or daughter uncoil and relieve his/her mind for a couple hours.

 

Make New Friends

 

Playing Fortnite with peers you sorta know but aren’t friends with can result in a new, unknown friendship – that came from Fortnite. I’ve personally played with lots of different people and made new friends through Fortnite.

 

It’s Fun

 

Most likely, you and your kid have different views on what is fun. Admit, sometimes you force your son or daughter to do things you enjoy but they are bored by. You’ve got to let them have their own fun sometimes.

 

They’ll Fight You

 

No matter how many times you say “No!”, they’ll always come back with another request the next week, usually with the argument “But everyone’s playing it!”. I can tell you from experience, I nagged and nagged and nagged some more until finally I was able to play.

 

No: Don’t Let Them Play

 

Stick to your gut; if you don’t like the game or the obsession that comes with it, then maybe Fortnite isn’t right for your child.

 

Addiction

 

You’re scared, and rightfully so, that your son or daughter may become addicted with Fortnite. They might come home every day from school and play, and the weekends are nothing different. I am pretty addicted to Fortnite, though I only play 3 times a week (Friday-Sunday).

 

Violence/Rating

 

Though Fortnite is nothing compared to the gore of Call of Duty, is still includes guns and killing people. Because of gun violence, Fortnite was given the rating of T, for Teen. The only point of Fortnite is killing other people, who are trying to do the same to you

Random People

 

In every game, you will either be against or even on a team with gamers you didn’t know existed in the world. Usually they’ll be against you, but sometimes in squads you will be matched up with people you are totally unfamiliar with. My mom is especially uneasy about this.

 

Distraction

 

Maybe your child struggles a little in school and you want them to do better. Fortnite is not the solution; in fact, it’s the opposite. I only play on weekends because on the weekdays I’m doing homework or focusing on upcoming tests, as you may think your son or daughter should be doing.

 

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Final Verdict

 

My final opinion on whether you should let your kid play Fortnite or not lies in the middle of my arguments; I think it’s appropriate and reasonable to let your child play, but not excessively. Regulated time on the Xbox, PS4, or whatever platform makes sense for both parties.

 

I recommend letting them play regulated time under some circumstances. Maybe make sure all their homework due the next day is done. If they have a test the next day then no Fortnite or other video game, and only an hour or two per weekday max.

 

As for the weekend, same things apply, except maybe more time since there’s no school. That’s what I wish I did in my house.

 

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Thanks For The Read!

 

So, if you take anything away from this blog, it’s that letting you son or daughter play Fortnite isn’t a terrible idea, but overplaying is. From a 14-year-old who loves the game, it’s surely taking over conversations in school and what my peers do in their free time. After all, it’s the newest must-have for all ages alike.