Are You Ratings Ready? Video Game Edition by Mike Nappa

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Your preteen wants to play a new video game at a friend’s house—but is that game appropriate for your child? How will you know? Here’s how you can find out:

 

How are Video Games Rated for Content?

Most video games are given a third-party rating by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). This rating is intended to provide “objective information” to help parents make informed choices about the games their kids play.

An ESRB rating has three parts:

  1. An age-appropriate category designation,
  2. Content descriptors, and
  3. Information about the “interactive elements” of a game, for instance, whether or not a game shares a user’s location or other personal information.

 

What are the Basic Ratings Categories?

  • EC – Early Childhood. No objectionable content, and a game that was created specifically for young children.
  • Everyone. Fun for the whole family. Cartoon-style violence at best, and generally no profanity or suggestive themes included.
  • Everyone 10+. Generally appropriate for preteens and older. May contain mild violence or mild language, but overall very tame.
  • Teen. This is the gaming equivalent of a PG-13 movie rating. According to ESRB, a game with this rating “May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.”
  • Mature. A video game comparable to an R-rated film. A game with this rating is likely to include some combination of graphic violence, blood and gore, sexual content, and strong profanity.
  • Adults Only. Consider this the NC-17 rating of video games. ESRB describes these games this way, “May include prolonged scenes of intense violence, graphic sexual content and/or gambling with real currency.”

 

Where Can I Find More?

A detailed explanation of the ESRB rating system, including specific content descriptors and interactive element designations is online at: http://www.esrb.org/ratings/ratings_guide.jsp.

Mike Nappa is an author of more than 50 books. He is also the founder of Nappaland Literary Agency and a former book acquisitions editor. He is featured each month in ParentLife magazine and in Trends and Truth Online on the ParentLife blog.

Real Life Solutions: ADHD and Counseling

We are proud to have Dr. Linda Mintle in ParentLife each month answering questions submitted from readers. To submit a question for Dr. Mintle, e-mail it to parentlife@lifeway.com and include “? for Dr. Mintle” on the subject line. This month we have an extra Q&A from Dr. Mintle we wanted to share.

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source: brookesb

Q: Our 10-year-old son has been diagnosed with ADHD. The school recommended he have counseling, but we really don’t know why. Our family seems to get along and we don’t have problems with our son other than his direction following and forgetfulness. Why would the school recommend counseling?

A: I would encourage you to ask the school directly as to why the recommendation for counseling was made. Without knowing your specific case, I can’t say exactly why, but I can tell you the purpose of counseling in most cases.

There is a saying, “Pills don’t teach skills.” Too often, parents medicate their children and don’t work on the management of ADHD. Counseling does not cure this disorder, but it does help kids figure out their strengths and weaknesses and how to help themselves, given their unique way of doing things. For example, counseling can help your son develop a reminder system or a tracking system for his homework.

Counseling might focus on relationship skills that help his social life at school—how to deal with frustration, impulsive behaviors, etc. Counseling reinforces a positive mindset and helps children understand that learning can take different forms and doesn’t mean they aren’t bright simply because they learn in less conventional ways.

Counseling is usually helpful when parents feel like they have tried things and need extra help with systems that work. Usually the counselor uses a cognitive behavioral approach in which the focus is on thoughts and behavior. This type of therapy teaches problem-solving, goal setting, new skills, and management of feelings. Finding a therapist who specializes in working with children with ADHD and understands the impact of the disorder is important.

Resource: Raising Boys with ADHD by Mary Anne Richey and James W. Forgan

10 Tips for Bullying Prevention in Schools

Cary Woods Elementary School playgorund
source: VickyvS

Bullying is an issue that schools around the country are paying attention to. It’s one that is leaving many seats in the classrooms empty each day. In fact, it’s estimated that, around the country, roughly 160,000 students stay home each day because they fear bullying. Fortunately, there are plenty of things that schools can do in order to help successfully prevent and address the issue on their campus.

 

  • Focus on prevention. When you begin working on bullying as a school-wide issue, place the emphasis more on preventing it so that it is not as big of a problem to begin with.
  • Establish a committee. Create a task force at the school to focus on bullying. That committee should include members from staff, teachers, parents, and students. Together, they can work together and have their input considered.
  • Create a plan. Within the committee, work together to create a bully-prevention plan for the school. Include what the consequences will be if people are found to be bullying others.
  • Start early. It is never too early to start working with children about treating others with kindness, respect, and acceptance. Start at the earliest grade that the school has, leaving no children out of the plan.
  • Keep it going. As children work their way through the school, advancing to the next grade, reinforce the bully-prevention message. They need to hear the message every year, as opposed to it being given to them only once.
  • Think multiple methods. Children learn in different manners. Some learn by listening, others learn by hands-on projects, and still others learn by watching. Try to incorporate multiple ways to get the bully-prevention message across to students. Include things like books, plays, games, movies, and more.
  • Encourage peer advocacy. When students go from being bystanders to being “upstanders,” attempts to address bullying will be more successful. Students should be taught to stand up for other students.
  • Teach what to do. Even though the focus should mainly be on bullying prevention, students still need to know what to do if it happens to them. Teach them acceptable ways to handle bullying if they do encounter it.
  • Work with parents. Parents want a bully-free school as much as teachers, staff, and students do. Nobody wants their child to come home in tears after a day of being bullied. Get the parents involved in the bully prevention effort in order to make it more successful.
  • Evaluate and adjust. Once or twice per year, give the students an anonymous survey to fill out, where they can answer questions about bullying on the school campus. This will provide a look at how the students feel about the school atmosphere, and will give staff the chance to see if the bully-free plans need to be re-evaluated.

“Schools want those children in their seats every day, rather than avoiding school out of fear,” explains Karen Goldberg, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in working with parents and families. “When schools make bullying a priority and take real steps to help prevent and address bullying, everyone is better off. It takes some dedication and focus, but a successful program can be created and implemented.”

See also: Linda Mintle’s response to parents of children who are being bullied.

Eye Exams for School-Age Children

Eye Chart
source: firemind

The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends that children receive an eye exam at age 6 and then every two years during the school-age years. Parents can look for signs of child’s vision becoming impaired. Contact an optometrist if your child experiences the following signs of having vision problems:

  • Frequent eye rubbing or repeated blinking
  • Short attention span
  • Avoiding reading
  • Recurrent headaches
  • Covering one eye
  • Tilting head to one side
  • Holding books close to face
  • An eye turning in or out
  • Seeing double
  • Losing place when reading
  • Difficulty remembering what is read

 If your child has vision problems, when did they start?

Real Life Solutions: My Child Is Being Bullied

We are proud to have Dr. Linda Mintle in ParentLife each month answering questions submitted from readers. To submit a question for Dr. Mintle, e-mail it to parentlife@lifeway.com and include “? for Dr. Mintle” on the subject line. This month we have an extra Q&A from Dr. Mintle we wanted to share.

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source: lucylawrence

Q: My son has been the victim of bullying at his school, and we are trying to understand why and how to help. Our family is going through some difficult changes and there has been a lot of yelling and tension in our home. We are trying to work on that by seeing a counselor. Do you have other suggestions for us?

A: In 2010, the APA published a study where researchers reviewed 153 studies on bullying over the past 30 years. What they found was that bullies and victims share similar traits. Both lack social problem-solving skills and feel awkward and uncomfortable among their peers. When you add poor academic skills to the mix, a bully, rather than a victim, is likely to emerge. The study additionally profiled bullies with these traits:

  1. Negative attitudes and beliefs about others
  2. Negative self-image
  3. From families with conflict and poor parenting
  4. Negative school perceptions
  5. Negatively influenced by peers

The study also noted that victims are usually aggressive, lack social skills, think negative thoughts, are problematic in social skills and solving problems, isolate, are rejected by peers and come from negative family, school, and community environments. So continue to work on solving the family tension, work with the school and teach your son a technique called The Swarm. Basically, a group of bystanders swarm the bully and tell him or her to back off. There is power in numbers and bullies will often back down when confronted with a group that pushes back on them. Work with your son to identify who he can get on his team and stand up to the bully.

Also work with the teacher. She may be able to coach the class on the technique as well. Practice social skills and help him problem-solve when he encounters problems at school. Building his confidence to handle peers will go a long way.

Do you have any advice for parents of bullied kids?

Captain Underpants Speaks to Parents! An Interview with Dav Pilkey {Trends and Truth Online with Mike Nappa}

 

Dav Pilkey is the creator of the New York Times bestselling kids’ series, Captain Underpants. Recently, he took a little time away from his Captainly duties to answer a few questions for ParentLife readers:

T&TO: What should every parent know about Captain Underpants?

Pilkey: I purposely designed each [Captain Underpants] book so they would not only be fun to read, they’d be easy to read. Each story has short chapters and pictures on every page, but the humor is aimed squarely at third and fourth graders (and above). My goal was to present kids with a series that would give even the most reluctant readers a feeling of success.

T&TO: What makes writing Captain Underpants worthwhile for you?

Pilkey: I feel very motivated by all of the positive feedback I get from parents and teachers and librarians. They tell similar stories, always about a kid who refused to read until they were introduced to Captain Underpants—then everything changed…I just heard from a grandmother the other day who had to yell at her granddaughter to STOP reading (apparently it was way past her bedtime, and she was under the covers with a flashlight).

T&TO: According to ALA, Captain Underpants books are among the “most-challenged” books by parents and librarians. Why?

Pilkey: The reason the Captain Underpants books have been challenged by a small handful of “concerned grown-ups” is usually because of the humor. These books do tend to involve villainous toilets and booger monsters and things like that. Of course, that’s part of the appeal for most kids, but I understand that there are some grown-ups out there who are not amused by such things.

One angry lady in California complained to her local newspaper that certain characters in my books had engaged in name-calling and had “no moral value.” Oddly, she was referring to the villains. I remember thinking, “Aren’t bad guys supposed to behave badly?”

I actually think kids are smart enough to get the point of these silly books of mine. They realize that the bad guys are evil and the heroes are loyal, brave, and good-hearted. Kids totally get it, and fortunately most adults do too.

T&TO: Any last thoughts for our readers?

Pilkey: Every month I get hundreds of original hand-drawn comic book adventures written and illustrated by kids all over the world. Just last week I got two 16-page full color comics written and illustrated by a twelve-year-old from Australia. Earlier this year, I got some comics from a kid in Thailand. I couldn’t read them, but the illustrations were beautiful.

The amazing thing to me is that these comic books aren’t assignments. Nobody forced those kids to make an original comic book. These are things that kids have decided to do on their own—for fun!

It’s going to be exciting to see what happens when these kids grow up!

Mike Nappa is an author of more than 50 books. He is also the founder of Nappaland Literary Agency and a former book acquisitions editor. He is featured each month in ParentLife magazine and in Trends and Truth Online on the ParentLife blog.

Resources for Parents from Jennifer Holt

To go along with Jennifer Holt’s article on being a social butterfly in the January issue, here are some extra resources for parents.

 

 

Prescription for Preteen Worship by G.G. Mathis

Greenstone Church
source: reallyboring

It is possible, when a church has multiple hours of Sunday morning children’s programming, for a preteen to reach the end of sixth grade without attending a single corporate worship service. The result is a group of kids who, due to inexperience, approach church worship reluctantly instead of expectantly.

You can help preteens learn how to connect enthusiastically with God in your church’s worship service:

Encourage participation

  • If your church has a contemporary worship service, note the songs you sing most often. (Your worship leader can help compile a preteen-friendly playlist of tunes preteens may hear on contemporary Christian radio.) Play the songs before, during, or after class.
  • Make a date once a month for your preteens to sit and worship together.
  • As teaching opportunities arise, help preteens recognize and practice giving as an act of worship.
  • Acknowledge that God wires everyone to connect with Him in different ways. Encourage preteens to discover the worship styles and actions that best help them enjoy God’s presence.

Discourage distraction

  • Take a lighthearted approach to the subject of worship etiquette. Lead preteens to create a list of “worst worship behaviors” or take silly posed pictures of worship do’s and don’ts for sharing and posting.
  • Discuss appropriate/inappropriate worship behavior from a “you don’t want to miss a single minute of worship!” standpoint.

Encourage spiritual formation

  • Provide preteens with inexpensive spiral notebooks or composition books for worship use. Encourage preteens to take notes instead of passing them. Suggest that for each message, preteens record the title, the key Scripture, and at least three important ideas from the pastor’s message.
  • Begin, if you haven’t, taking notes yourself during the worship service. Whenever possible, mention ideas, anecdotes, videos, or worship experiences that relate in some way to the concepts you are teaching preteens.
  • Provide copies of Bible Express and encourage preteens to develop the habit of private Bible study and prayer. When preteens connect with God alone daily, it will be more natural for them to connect with Him with others weekly during public worship.

ggmathisG.G. Mathis loves watching the preteens at Forest Park Baptist Church in Joplin, Missouri, worship with others.

Should Smoking Be Rated R? Trends & Truth Online with Mike Nappa

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If James Sargent, M.D., of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire, had his way, cigarette smoking in any movie would automatically earn an “R” rating. Same for films with cigars, pipes, and the like. Here’s why:

When young kids see people smoking onscreen, that becomes something of a “product placement” advertisement that’s repeated and reinforced through frequent viewings—and which might influence kids’ attitudes toward the habit. Dr. Sargent and his colleagues conducted a study of 6522 preteens and early teens, trying to measure scientifically the impact smoking in movies may or may not have on children. According to Everydayhealth.com, Sargent’s research suggests that, “Kids 10 to 14 years old were 49 percent more likely to have tried a cigarette for every 500 they saw smoked on the screen in PG-13 movies.”

“It is the movie smoking that prompts adolescents to smoke,” Sargent’s team emphasized in their report, “not other characteristics of R-rated movies or adolescents drawn to them.”

In response to these findings, the study’s originators have a simple recommendation: Give all movie smoking an “R” rating.

The thinking is that an “R” rating would make it harder for preteens and young teens to see repeated product placement of cigarettes in movies. In the researchers’ opinion, that would reduce underage smoking by at least 18%—a significant number in today’s American society.

According to the Surgeon General’s office, the smoking habit almost always begins in adolescence. About 2400 youth and young adults become regular smokers each day, with about 90% trying their first cigarette before the age of 18. What’s more, cigarette-sized cigars are so popular in youth culture today that one in five high school males smoke cigars.

A strategy that would help postpone the onset of adolescent smoking would drastically reduce adult smoking (and smoking-related illnesses) in years to come. Why? Because, according to the Surgeon General, “Almost no one starts smoking after age 25.”

This is why Dr. Sargent calls for an “R” rating on movies that contain smoking. Refusing a PG-13 (or less) rating for tobacco-fueled films would, in theory at least, keep anyone under 17 from being exposed (without parental consent) to the negative influence of onscreen smoking. If Dr. Sargent is correct, that in turn would measurably reduce the prevalence of underage smoking in America.

And so now the question is out there:

Should smoking be rated “R” in movies?

Or does that take social censorship too far, paving the way for “R” ratings for films that feature other bad health habits, such as eating fatty foods or drinking coffee and soda?

And how does an “R” rating criteria in cinema impact smoking and other bad habits displayed on television?

What do you think, ParentLife families? Take time to talk about it in your home this week.

 

Have a pop culture question for Trends & Truths? Email it to parentlife@lifeway.com!

***

 

Mike Nappa is a bestselling author, a noted commentator on pop culture, and founder of the website for parents, FamilyFans.com.

Real Men Aren’t Afraid to Carry Bibles by G.G. Mathis

This post is part of our monthly series encouraging leaders and parents of preteens. You’ll find more information and a great curriculum at the FLYTE blog

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source: giratikanon

Kelton’s parents gave him a Bible for his eleventh birthday, four months ago. He’s never taken it out of the box.

Jaden brings his Bible to church, slams it on the table, and sits the rest of the hour with his arms crossed.

Barrett, certain he won’t need it at home, leaves his Bible at church on Sundays.

Hang around preteen boys at church, and you’ll discover that these behaviors, though undesirable, are not uncommon.  You have a unique opportunity to help boys (and girls) recognize the value of God’s Word. Here’s how:

Use navigational aids. Remember that some of your preteens are new to church, and a thick book arranged in neither alphabetical nor numerical order is hard to navigate. Assure boys, “It’s always OK to use the table of contents!” Frequently and briefly review the significance of chapter and verse numbers.

Use Bibles every session. Technology makes it possible for teachers to flash verses on a screen, use search engines to find them, or spit out a printout of a Bible passage. Don’t forget to encourage preteens to experience the Bible the traditional way—hands-on and minds on! (You can add technological techniques as kids improve in Bible-handling expertise.)

Use affirmation. Privately recognize boys who bring their own Bibles to church. Encourage them to show you what Bible translation they are using, as well as the maps, dictionaries, or other study helps it contains. As time and conversation permit, explain which study helps are your favorites and why.

Use natural preteen curiosity. How do you get boys to use their Bibles in between Sundays? Trick them, of course! Bait boys with bits and bites of Bible stories about heroes, battles, spies, and God’s supernatural power. Tell enough of the story to pique their interest, then tell boys where they can read the rest.

Use your Bible! Let boys see you carrying, reading, and respecting your Bible. Tell them about meaningful passages you read and how they helped you make it through a tough week. Keep up the habit of marking and memorizing Scriptures and sharing them with preteens when you teach.

What suggestions do you have for making preteens excited about the Bible?  

G.G. Mathis teaches preteens at Forest Park Baptist Church in Joplin, Missouri.