Tag Archives: Parent

Does Co-Viewing = Helicopter Parenting?

15 Mar

I came upon an article today in the Wall Street Journal called, A Field Guide to the Middle-Class U.S. Family. It outlines the research of Elinor Ochs at UCLA. Dr. Ochs is an anthropologist who, along with her team, set up a bunch of cameras and observers in homes to study the American Family. (That thought alone gave me shivers… I can only imagine how intrusive it would be for a family to be observed all the time, in daily routines!) The results are now in: We American, middle-class parents are leading child-centered households, where kids reign over our every move.

That point is not too surprising to me, but it did hit a nerve. It made me think about my own style of parenting, and my need to help my kids in every single way. Yes, I’m picking up after their messes, helping them cut their food, making weekend entertainment decisions based on what they would like. So I guess… that makes me a “helicopter parent”. (Pause here to let my reluctant tone set in.) But it also got me thinking about our family’s digital and media life, and my obsession with co-viewing and co-playing. There, too, our viewing and playing together is always based on the kids’ choice. Is this also “helicopter parenting“?

Part of it is about engaging in appropriate material with my children. For example, I’m not going to let my preschoolers take a turn in my very competitive Scrabble game via my iPhone app. I’m also not going to let my children co-view “Glee” with me. They are simply too young to engage in this kind of content. But that basically means that our co-viewing and co-playing come down to their own interests and content made for them.

So, dear readers, please help me out here. Do you think that co-viewing is a form of “helicopter parenting”? And if so, does it bother you to recognize that it is? Please comment!

Wanted: More Playful Parents

21 Feb

Dad girl videogameSome recent research has cropped up about co-playing video games that I’d like to share. Both yield some results that we can learn some lessons from.

First, a recent article in the Journal of Adolescent Health reported that girls benefit more than boys from co-playing video games. This article first caught my eye in a blog post by Geek Dad. The researchers surveyed 287 adolescents and their parents about their game-playing habits. First, analyzing all kids in the study, it was found that time spent playing video games was associated with several negative outcomes, including heightened internalizing and aggressive behavior and lowered prosocial behavior. The big difference came when looking at girls versus boys who co-played with parents: Girls who co-played age-appropriate games with their parents were found to have better behavior, felt more connected to their families, and had stronger mental health. Parents did not co-play very often, but when they did, it made a difference.

Another interesting piece about co-playing video games appeared on the Joan Ganz Cooney Center blog, where Mindy Brooks described some formative research being done on an intergenerational computer literacy game. According to her description of this pilot-testing, most parents did not understand their roles in game-play, and felt obligated to “teach” instead of play. The game producers revised the game to include a video tutorial at the beginning, a point system to monitor each players’ progress, and several clickable support items. These changes helped parents play more and teach less.

Taken together, these two recent reports indicate that parents need to loosen up! Playing more with your kids not only has positive outcomes for your kids, but makes your experience more enjoyable for yourself. Taking time out of your day to co-play video games with your kids – especially girls, apparently – has some very positive effects.

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