Gaming - Moving Aggression to Perspective

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Vulnerable post - 

This mom of three boys is learning. All born after 2005, my young guys are digital natives and know nothing of life before screens were on the scene. Though the world around me and my childhood wasn’t screen filled, I do vividly remember my first Nintendo entering our home with Duck Hunt and Super Mario Brothers to entertain us on Friday nights. I can feel the excitement in me now when it was finally my turn to play. In addition, I also remember the heat in my face when my Mario guy died RIGHT before completing the level on my 19th try at that world. I couldn’t move on to the next level and had to redo that world all over again. I almost made it to the end - the rage! 

I was a sister to four brothers and knew gaming well.

Now I’m raising three boys and oh how the gaming industry has evolved since the days of Duck Hunt. Of course, my boys do plenty of other activities. They love legos and the outdoors. Yet we also let them game. Someone asked me the other day, “Is it hard for you to let your boys play digital games knowing the brain science for kids in addition to knowing the business side of this gaming industry?” The answer: It’s a struggle. It is a letting go. It is a part of the parenting journey.

Isn’t life that way, though? Just as there are dangers and hesitations in handing your kid their first phone, handing them the keys to their first car, setting up their first social media account, saying yes to them going out with friends alone, sending them on their first date - there are these constant letting go’s we do during their life. Hopefully these experiences happen while our kids are in our homes so we can model, learn, guide and help set up healthy boundaries. Many times we don’t do these acts without guidelines, conversations, trainings even ( plug here: Smartphone Ed.) do we?

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Yes, I know the research on gaming addiction. I do realize that Fortnite has hit more than $1 billion in revenue from people pouring their time and money into this game. I also study the neurology of how this happens in the brains of the players, in addition to elevated aggression while playing. I do feel the gaming industry has a hold on a generation that is not only distracting them from their lives, but dangerously changing their brains to survive in a virtual world apart from the place they are meant to thrive. This is the very reason it’s important for us to not run from the digital culture, but to face it, with common sense, life skills and healthy habits - whether that’s social media or gaming.

The truth is our kids want to be where their friends are and where life is happening. To hold them back from that and not give them age appropriate access while they are living in our homes can later prove to be a disservice to them. We can hold to our values, pass them on to our kids AND let them be on devices with their friends. It can happen, but it will take pressing through the challenges, setting up boundaries, keeping to your guidelines, giving consequences for tantrums, listening, questioning and a lot of learning. This is the hard and intentional parenting life. It is inconvenient. It disrupts our busy. It interrupts our numbing out. And it sets our kids up for a life of freedom.

Let me set the scene of a moment in our home recently when one of my sons mowed yards to save up for his first X-box. Most of his friends have some sort of gaming device and he wanted to be included in this fun. “FUN” being the important term here. As he and dad ran to get the Xbox, mom was typing out the “Wible Home Xbox Guidelines” :) You can roll your eyes there - he wanted to. He was very obviously not happy with the time limits, the 3 strikes of anger and your out rules and the simple fact that I had any say in his playing time. Through a few days of us back and forth on his frustrations with losing, even yelling at the game I finally sat down with him Tuesday night. I listened to his pleading for no boundaries like his school friends get and so on. I let him get out all of his frustrations with me and I finally said, “I hear you and I’m glad to know how you feel. You wanted this to have fun with your friends. You worked hard to pay for this, I know. I also know that your anger and aggression when you have to get off of the game is real. The aggression you feel when you lose or when something in the game is not fair is part of the reason I’m setting up these boundaries. Do you like those feelings when they come up inside you?” “No”, he says. I continue, “The longer you are on the game the more real and important the game becomes to you. So, no I’m not going to let you play for 6 hours. No, you can’t eat dinner and fall asleep to playing this game. Yes, I’m going to take the privilege away and push through your protests when you start violating the guidelines set up. Yes, you bought this with your money, but you live in the home that dad and I pay for so you are not in charge of these time limits. And most importantly, I love you, your mind and your life. I want you to learn healthy habits and until you can show us that you are we’re going to make the call. Maybe we can revisit these guidelines and re-adjust after awhile if we need to, but you will have to earn those privileges”. I felt a breakthrough with him. He felt seen, heard and understood at the same time as internally desiring those boundaries.

After that invested time things have been better. The other night before dinner he turned off his game and asked if he could make cookies. After they were done he tasted them and said I can taste every ingredient I put in these. This is my best batch. I love this kid. I know the deeper work of parenting isn’t easy. The inconvenient moments in our day will happen again and we will have to dig deep to help him move from aggression to real life perspective, but I will keep pressing in to what we stand for and allow our kid to hopefully be building skills that will help him when he is on his own.

For those of you raising your kids in this digital world, hear me say - we are learning. This is new to us all. You know how many moms and dads say that to me? The studies out there of social media and gaming attached to anxiety, depression and suicide are not to be ignored and are not to be feared. We don’t throw in the towel and numb out. We don’t run, hide, pretend the issues our kids are dealing with are not there. We don’t leave them on their own to deal with all this. We don’t take it all away. We model first. We listen - we learn - we guide - we dig deep and do the work of connection and relationships. Because it matters. They matter.

Last week I felt I was losing. Today I feel that I’m learning.


Why My Mind Matters

It's a New Year.  Many are resetting their bodies, digestive systems, workout plans and personal organization.  I'm resetting my mind. 

 source:  usedopamine.com

Trigger : something that serves as a stimulus and initiates a reaction or series of reactions. 

Ding.  Click.  Scroll.  Our brains are trained to have triggers that call us back to our devices.  I've taken a few weeks off of the interweb & social media posting to "rest" and "reset" my mind this holiday as well as giving my full attention to those in my life.  The word reset means to "set anew'.  In the context of our minds, doesn't that sound dreamy?

 source: by Douglas Coupland at artnet.com

source: by Douglas Coupland at artnet.com

It was a great break, but even with the time off, my mind was still so very active.  My personality also makes it hard for my mind to rest - learning this is part of my spiritual growth.  But there is a lot of recent brain science reporting that this technology age is not helping my mind rest. It's actually doing the opposite.  This past year in the news many learned of the current dopamine labs created to literally change our brains to cause addiction to their apps, games and social media. 

 ”Our platform uses AI and neuroscience to personalize moments of joy in your app. It adapts the rhythm and timing of 💥s to surprise and hook each user.  They’ll stay longer and engage more.  Up to 167% more.”
— -usedopamine.com 

Those users they're talking about are you, me, our kids, our society.  While these tech companies develop mind altering technology many of them keep devices far away from their own children and even themselves because they know the effect it will have on their brains, their habits and eventually their lives. 

We've been studying and following, not only American, but the global tech giants: Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, The Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings for a few years now.  We learned years ago that many of these executives, including the creator of the iPhone, Steve Jobs, along with the creator of Twitter limited their kids and themselves on their devices.  The very people building the technolgoy are now learning to set their own boundaries and some even regretting and recognizing what they have done to our society and world.  

A former Facebook executive has said he feels “tremendous guilt” over his work on “tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works”, joining a growing chorus of critics of the social media giant.
— Julia Carrie Wong, theguardian.com
 source: nytimes.com

source: nytimes.com

"All this talk of hacking human psychology could sound paranoid, if Harris had not witnessed the manipulation firsthand." - The Atlantic, on Tristan Harris

Even with this knowledge, realizing the top Silicone Valley schools are raising low-tech kids in a high tech world, our public education systems are moving quickly to all electronics.  Our restaurants are providing iPads for kids to play on while eating. Our culture is face down - tech-neck and all - behind our screens.  
We've been bringing awareness to this issue and creating products to help families unplug for a few years now.  I do have a strong belief that awareness can bring change and 2017 did just that.  For many the tide is changing and the truth is coming forward thanks to resent research, neuroscience and news outlets. 

What does all of this mean for us?  What can the everyday person do in the shadow of these huge companies with all the allure they offer us and our families 24 hours a day?

We can listen to the research. 

We can be smart.


Boundaries for myself and my family do not mean we are weak, they mean we are smart.  Looking at the facts about what this is doing for our mental health is key for setting good standards in our home and on our devices. 

As I look afresh at this year, 2018, and all its possibilities - I see a year of clarity.  I need to step into a place of making space for a restful mind.  What does that look like for me? 

Well, it looks like logging off and being human for a hot minute. 

First, I need to surrender my control and all the things I want to check off my lists. When I let go of that rigid grip I can quiet my mind enough to listen to what's important in this season of life.  Second is realigning my boundaries.  Where in my life have I strayed from them, from self-care, spiritual growth, family time, disciplines in my work/home/parenting, healthy boundaries in my technology use?  Lastly, I can practice gratitude. When I do that I am present in this life I'm living and not looking for something to fill me, or fill my time. 

If you're seeking ways to reset or just opportunities to unplug, please check out the products we offer at talkmoretechless.com - from our very own Smartphone Ed. for first time smartphone users, to our little phone decals to help remember to flip your phone over and connect with those in the moment.  Most of all, we hope you have a year of clarity.  A year of mindful rest to listen and do what it is you were made for in this life!

 phone decal - talkmoretechless.com

phone decal - talkmoretechless.com

We THE PEOPLE

Listen. 

 

Can you hear your people? Because they are your people, America. The scared, hurt, elated, rejoicing humans on the other side of the screen at which you are staring.  Can you hear this divided nation speak? Can you stop typing long enough to listen? We are the PEOPLE. 

“Nasty” was the word for this past election. That term permeated many of our avenues of communication and media from the top down. It was used in political advertisements, networks, new stations, news websites, media and social media alike. Historically, elections are “nasty”, but this technological age takes it to a whole new level. Behind a screen and with the tool - or weapon - of a keyboard, our typed words have public and global power like never before. They can pierce the heart and mind of young and old, soaking in the very letters clicking away under your fingers. 

The beautiful thing about freedom is we have the “right” to use our voices of influence for good or evil. Our views, concerns, issues and persuasions should be heard. We are better people when we speak up, listen and learn. Though, speaking up and not staying silent doesn’t mean we should rub one another's faces in the mud. The voices that are loud, mean, full of hate and self righteousness stifle the ability to cognitively listen, learn and grow.  Empathy is formed with eye contact and face to face interactions. With our culture, especially these younger generations, those interactions are happening less and less. 

I’ve been speaking and writing about “The ‘Human’ Cyberbully". The victims and perpetrators of cyberbullying are all people behind these screens.  Our kids are reading our posts and comments. They are developing human beings who are learning, watching, taking notice, imitating and acting out. 

 If we, as adults, forget we are typing these things about real, life-breathing humans - with hearts and souls, history and story - when we are commenting on Facebook posts, then how can we expect our kids to grow up with any amount of empathy for others.  What is the point of pushing anti-cyberbullying campaigns in schools when all our kids have to do is hop on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat to see mom, dad, grandpa, aunt and uncle tearing people to shreds with their words and self-righteous ideas of how they are RIGHT. 

Adults, models, influencers - listen. How can we make laws on cyberbullying to keep kids from committing suicide if we can’t lace our words today with grace and truth? Our babies…babies! (ages 12 and 14) in this country are getting prosecuted in court for their hateful words against their, now deceased, classmates. We have a responsibility.

In no way am I saying for our political culture to be silent. Our voices can be heard in humane and respectful methods.  I am just asking us to model respect! Historically, that is the best avenue for change anyway. 

So, I’ll say here what we teach 7th and 8th graders in the schools about posting online:

“If you wouldn’t look someone in the eye and say it to their face, full of empathy as a person…don’t post it.”

Here’s to our country speaking with grace, compassion and truth. Here's to listening to one another, moving on and growing. The election is over, now the work begins. Let’s realize our words are a part of our history and our future.