Electronic Games, Toys and Tablets: Do They Work?

Like it or not, technology is part of our everyday lives, which means our kids are exposed to it too. Is this really a bad thing? If done in moderation, can these electronic games, toys and tablets actually makes our kids smarter? Today we'll break down common fears many parents face and we'll look at new research that suggests this type of learning is more helpful than harmful.

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Episode Transcript

Parent Savers
Electronic Games, Toys and Tablets: Do They Work?


Please be advised, this transcription was performed from a company independent of New Mommy Media, LLC. As such, translation was required which may alter the accuracy of the transcription.

[Theme Music]

JOHNER RIEHL: Our kids live in a different world than we did, one where technology and electronics ran almost an evitable part of everyday life. Everywhere parents turn they are faced with the decisions about electronics games and toys or tablet time. But are their reasons for optimism and hope with these new ubiquities digital devices. Today we will take a closer look at whether electronics games, toys and tablets can actually work. I am Johner Riehl. This is Parent Savers.

[Theme/Intro Music]

JOHNER RIEHL: Welcome everybody to another episode of Parent Savers, broadcasting from the Birth Education Centre of San Diego. Parent Savers is your online on the go support group for parents with infants and toddlers. I am your host Johner Riehl. Thanks so much to our loyal listeners who joins us every time a new episode is released, and also for those who continues to you this conversation with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Make sure to check out our Parent Savers Apps, so you can listen to all of our episode where ever you go as soon as they are released, weeks after they are released, months, even years at this point. . .

SUNNY GAULT: It is like a time capsule really of all things parenting.

JOHNER RIEHL: Yes, I mean if you listen to some of the old episodes you didn't even have to get a twins yet . . .


JOHNER RIEHL: So check out the app you can do it and there are other ways that you can interact with us now and Sunny will tell us more about that.

SUNNY GAULT: So yes we love to hear from our listeners, and we have some segments that you guys can participate in and it is really easy to do so. So first let me tell you about a couple of the segments you might like, we have one that is called “Parenting Oops” and that is where we share our funny parenting stories, things that we have done, things that we have done with our kids that is pretty funny or usually stuff that isn't really funny at the moment but later you just have to laugh about it. It is kind of like you know medicine and so we want to hear your stories and we will share those with our audience and we are always looking for parenting apps or apps . . . maybe I shouldn't call them parenting apps, apps that help you be a better parent even if it . . .

JOHNER RIEHL: Well maybe you shouldn’t say apps that to help you be a better parent either let's say . . .

SUNNY GAULT: What should it be okay, “apps that keep you kids busy?”
JOHNER RIEHL: Yes. Maybe it's apps that help you be a better parent, apps that are good for families.

SUNNY GAULT: I think I would call it apps for new parents or something like that. So anyways it can be something that kind of keeps your kiddo busy for a while or something that has helped you on your parenting in journey.

JOHNER RIEHL: Could also be a tool that you guys use maybe as a family organizer or something like that.

SUNNY GAULT: Exactly, so if you have something like that give us a heads up and we will chat about it on the show and give it our own little thumbs up - thumbs down New Mommy Media review and let's see what else what else we do we have, we have got a bunch of experts that you can ask questions, pretty much anyone that comes up on the show is an expert is willing to answer questions. so if you have any questions about parenting which we all do and you are willing to admit there are a couple of different ways that you can submit.

You can go to our website at www.newmommymedia.com click on the contact link and you could type it all out and email it to us or what I prefer you do is to call us on our voicemail which is 619-866-4775, no one is actually going to pick up it will go straight to voicemail and I will take the message and put it in our upcoming episodes so people can hear your lovely voice instead of Johner and I stay here constantly.

JOHNER RIEHL: Not lovely. Not mine but yours is Sunny.

SUNNY GAULT: Oh Thank You.

JOHNER RIEHL: Thank you for going through all that and thank you all for interacting with us in various ways. So today we are actually talking about electronic toys, games and tablets. To introduce our guest Andrew Greenberg is join us on the phone. Andrew is the executive director of the Georgia Game Developers Association and director of the Southern Interactive Entertainment and Game Expo. He is being in the video game industry for a long time, so he is familiar with a lot of issues that pertains to it and probably most importantly for audience he has a new 5 month old.

SUNNY GAULT: So you are not getting enough sleep right Andrew?

ANDREW GREENBERG: Sleep I didn’t get that before-hand.

SUNNY GAULT: What's sleep?

JOHNER RIEHL: Well welcome to the show, we are looking forward to the conversation.

[Theme Music]

JOHNER RIEHL: Alright today on Parents Savers we are going to take a look on an app that we might think would be good for you or your family. We try to look at apps that are good for families with young kids because that is where you guys are that are listening to our show, wouldn’t make sense if we were doing stuff for senior citizens.

SUNNY GAULT: No, not really

JOHNER RIEHL: So today we got an app called “GiggleBug” and I think this app is really cool. Now it is an app which is $2.99 so that is $3 and it is from GiggleBug Entertainment is the publisher. And there you can hear it, it wants you to tickle the grumpy owl. So it is decorated like a storybook, real unique art style [app noise] and really simple motion. . .

SUNNY GAULT: You really tickling an owl?

JOHNER RIEHL: I am tickling an owl and I got to find the right tickle spot, there is a blue tickle spot, if it’s red that is not the right tickle spot, there is purple then [app noise] and it is funny, did I tickle animals and so I am just rubbing back and forth you can also just touch him [app noise] and now you are filling up their balloons and so once you fill up their 3 balloons [app noise] they start laughing historical.

SUNNY GAULT: So what do the balloons represent, it is just you tickling them and it gets too like a certain point . . .

JOHNER RIEHL: I think that the balloons probably represent 2 things, one for a kid and one for the grown-ups and I will turn this off. And for the kids I think it just represents what they have to fill and it gives them a goal. So the color of your tickles is filling up the different colored balloons and you find the three different tickle spots, it fills up the balloons.

I think for the grown-ups and maybe I am been really way too much into this but it is sort of like fill your bucket the whole thing where like if you make other people feel good it fills their bucket, it fills your bucket to. So making these other creatures feel good and find their tickle spot is a way to sort of I think build compassion in a way to . . . maybe I am reading too much into it.

But there is a little story with each one and before you meet the creature you hear about how they are really down and it is really beautiful art seller. It is like a really cool interactive almost like Old Winnie the Pooh cartoon it is what it reminds me off. I think it is really cool and I think that families would check it out. There might be some who thinks that $3 is too much to spend, there is some that thinks that is not a big deal at all. I think that is the biggest barrier for this one is the $3 price point which in the crazy app economy is like “oh my god that is really expensive”. So if you think about it for a toy is not that much.

SUNNY GAULT: I know what would you spend for a physical toy.

JOHNER RIEHL: If I used it just a few times like you would spend it. So I think $3 Giggle Bug from GiggleBug Entertainment is really cute. There is also a companion app I think called Giggle Tree and I haven't tried that one out maybe we would have to check that one on another of our future show.

SUNNY GAULT: This totally reminds me of Monsters Inc when they fill up there little laugh things. There laugh canisters and then you can power [inaudible] with it.

JOHNER RIEHL: So you can power your day with a GiggleBug laughter right. I mean certainly a different app might be catching the screens and stuff and we probably have to mention and Sunny was giggling about it a little bit like the concept of finding tickle spots on animals could be a little bit uncontrolled but it is really well done, it is easy, it is cute and kids are just going to love touching these animals, they are going to love making these animals laugh and fill their balloons.

[Theme Music]

JOHNER RIEHL: This is a subject electronics toys, games and tablets that you know as we were saying at the kickoff that it is sort of the ubiquitous world now that it is kind of hard for parents to not be faced with his decisions and I think what a lot of people are wondering you know do these things actually work, can there be a positive, a lot of the tendency might be to view them as a negative. I know that I come across a lot of parents especially first time parents going through it for the first time that are pretty fearful and really protective about their kids and technology, tablets, toys, that kind of thing.

Andrew what kind of experience have you seen especially being a dad of a young kid and then what are you see in kids using these days.

ANDREW GREENBERG: Well the comparison I think go back to the technology for years when I was a young nerd on my computer home there certainly people had their concerns about that, what are these kids doing, locked to in their basement not realizing even then we were talking to each other on BBS’s long before the Facebook days. So there certainly been the concerns about technology so I am taking it for granted that your children were not born with the technology in-planted like mine was but hopefully next century we will have everybody born with all the tablets or built into their systems coming out of the box.

You are very correct in the concerns, I hear this everywhere and I think we don't have all the details yet but we can make some good assumptions. I was actually at . . . I serve on a Georgia Chamber of Commerce committee dealing with entertainment and technology in our life where we were talking about the most recent survey showing something like 20 to 30% of the children under one have interacted with tablets and iPhones and already swiping and tapping etc. Under two they are active on them already and a very significant percentage of children have their own tablet all Smartphone’s by the time they are already 4 years old.

So whether we think it is good or not it is certainly becoming the north . . .

JOHNER RIEHL: Right, the opinion doesn't matter because it is happening.

ANDREW GREENBERG: Right and I think enough parents have had kids going after their tablets let's say it's definitely a thing, fine have your own tablet and my daughter Sage is only 5 months old but she will often be on my lap when I am working on my main computer and she is fascinated by it. I don't know if it is the light or the fact that daddy is spending more time looking at that moment then he is looking at her which I am sure raises the hackles on her little neck right now.

JOHNER RIEHL: Maybe that’s where all your focus is, so and she is seeing it too and focusing . . .

ANDREW GREENBERG: There must be a reason for that, now if only that would work on everything else. But there is only fascination with those devices, we have made them so they work very seamlessly with how humans have evolved their life rest easily on them, we interact with them physically very easily so I think it is natural that infants would be attracted to them. I don't think Apple, Samsung or anyone else has designed it with that in mind but it is a natural part of how they have build these, like they would be attracted to children and children already . . . Sage love to affect her environment, if she can do something and makes her very happy. If something she does changes the world she is delighted and they tapping her phone and something happens is an immediate response. So I think the attractiveness is going to be undeniable.

Now is that attractiveness good, can we make them operate in positive ways that is the next question.

JOHNER RIEHL: I find it so amazing just even when you talk about the simple interface and the fact that kids these young are using them. When I was first learning about the iPad or the first 2 times hearing it, it seems so strange to me, they do not have a keyboard or the mouse or these are the input devices that we were used to . . .

ANDREW GREENBERG: Or the control panel with “X’s” and joystick. . .


SUNNY GAULT: Because that’s more natural.

ANDREW GREENBERG: That’s human . . .

JOHNER RIEHL: But somehow that seems more intuitive but these touch and controls are super intuitive. I think we all maybe heard stories about like a kid going up to like a picture and like spreading their finger apart because they are trying to zoom in on something.

SUNNY GAULT: Well my 5 years old does that well he doesn't do it as often now but you know when he was a little bit younger, with over television because he thought it was just like a big iPad, so like for Hulu, he was trying to tap the Hulu icons that he wanted to watch his show, and I am like “ah not really how it works” but . . .

JOHNER RIEHL: Kids who are used in tablets, kids have TVs in their room, kids are use in educational toys, I mean there is a whole line from Vtech, LePan . . .

ANDREW GREENBERG: Yes LePs . . . that is going to be for our goal, they work.

JOHNER RIEHL: Exactly! What are you seeing?

ANDREW GREENBERG: I have friends who have made wonderful games for very young children. They teach them to brush their teeth, it is excellent I mean the science is definitive on it, the children who play the game are better brushing their teeth and have less cavity. So I think we are going to see more and more of these tools, the game for health in general is fascinating and we are seeing this impact children at all ages, there are games like Re-Mission certainly the classic of the [inaudible] where children who have childhood cancer and play this game are more likely to survive their cancer than children who don’t.

JOHNER RIEHL: I have not heard about that game. What do they do?

ANDREW GREENBERG: Re-Mission is wonderful, it is a great thing done at a HopeLab, they have done great work with this, I think they are on Re-Mission 2 now. The studies not for toddler and Infant age, they are more elementary school age. So I do not know if there are studies with Re-Mission showing it to a toddler level.

JOHNER RIEHL: Is it a game where it’s like facts and stuff?

ANDREW GREENBERG: No, no, no and that is one of the issues I love the facts games to degree but the science behind them isn't as conclusive as it is for games where children actually take action, take direct physical action like BrushUp is great because children have to actively have to brush their teeth with the bluetooth connector and do it to the music and do it to the game and it does have a physical action tied to it. In Re-Mission it is kind of a shooters style game moving on through it but children are along the way getting a better sense of what is happening with their bodies and how the chemotherapy impacts them and they save a better attitude about their chemo and more likely to stick to the chemo regiment.

JOHNER RIEHL: That is fascinating and it seems like as we were even saying before they are so ubiquities, I mean and the kids are having access to them that the conversation isn’t so much about using the tablets or not but it is about . . . it is a software issue now, it is not the hardware, it is about what can they use.

ANDREW GREENBERG: I agree with you, I have seen parents who definitely use the tablet as a babysitter for their toddlers and I don’t necessarily as someone who would love to sell them the games who would babysit their children, I have my concerns about that as well. But there are certainly accent and software that are a value to children of that age is everything on their of value. I think the jury is still out on that and I am certainly one of those who would say the amount of time you spend on anything should be in moderation except for my games. My games can all be played 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

I think that the immediate reaction that we have to don’t touch that is as misplaced at the reaction to here uses leave me alone.

JOHNER RIEHL: Yes, definitely the extreme and so what are parents worried? They are worried about sort of I think this idea of like Zombie brain of like kids not been able to think in an appropriate way.

SUNNY GAULT: And not playing outside and not getting the physical side of things.

ANDREW GREENBERG: Right and we certainly hear . . . and there are people who are concern by the actual impact on cognitive development, on eye strain and all these things that people used to say about me staring at my screen all the time.

JOHNER RIEHL: Do you wear glasses?

ANDREW GREENBERG: I do have a pair of glasses that I never wear. I do eye exercises like mad and I find that when I do those the glasses can stay in the drawer.

JOHNER RIEHL: That is interesting, see that is another use for the I am guessing it is an app that you do your exercise with.

ANDREW GREENBERG: No, no, no . . . that is old school. They stare in weird directions so I use the eye muscles. This is the old stuff from way back when before we just burned into the core and made your vision perfect for year.

JOHNER RIEHL: Right, do you have some more examples of some apps you have seen that really worked BrushUp sounds fascinating I do want to look at that.

ANDREW GREENBERG: I think a part of it is that there are apps that parents and children can use effectively together. Now this is one that is certainly too early for my daughter to use but there are all these habit building, task building apps for improving one's own life. So there is one call “7 weeks” and I am a fan of 3 easy to use task app where for instance I am trying to give my daughter tummy time because she really like standing up already.

So I want to make sure that there is 30 minutes to an hour of tummy time a day minimum so I got an app to tell me did I do that. Now this is something that I don't want her using but it is a simple X’s and O’s. So at some point if there is some test did you brush your teeth I can see giving it to her and saying “did you brush your teeth put the right symbol in - yeeeh” and constantly track whether that has happened.

It would be wonderful if parents always kept track of did their child brush their teeth, did their child wash their hands etcetera, etcetera but for too many of us are too involved in our life I mean have a lot of things going on and therefore these are as helpful for our children as there are for ourselves.

JOHNER RIEHL: Yes there are definitely some useful apps for the tracking and yes in a hundred years when we are born with tablet inside us we can track ourselves.

ANDREW GREENBERG: So one of the very first YouTube videos I played for my daughter because apparently we lose the ability to distinguish tonality and mander and pathumwan so one of the preferred YouTube videos I played was Chinese tones, how do you hear the tones, I have no idea if this will do any good whatsoever I think the science on this is completely zero. I just love the idea that she can hear people speaking in those tonalities that give me just an absolute fit.

JOHNER RIEHL: I hadn't even heard about that too, that is fascinating because you know and Sunny is making a little bit of a face so that we can't hear literally because of the way that we heard grown up, Mandarin speakers, English speakers can't hear the same sounds. So there are sounds that can’t be made can't be hurt. Am I getting that right or tones is that it.

ANDREW GREENBERG: That's exactly right. When I say “mehow” people just looked at me like “what” . . .

JOHNER RIEHL: Because there are tones in there that we can’t hear.

ANDREW GREENBERG: Exactly so play something like that . . . I do have Chinese friends, Mainland, Taiwanese etcetera but so much easier just for laugh YouTube video and say “here we go”.

JOHNER RIEHL: Right, I mean talking about the science being zero and sort of the blank slate like what do you think that were about experimenting on children I mean to certain extent because you do not know maybe it is frying our brains, I don't think it is, you don't think it is . . .

ANDREW GREENBERG: That is actually a big part of my own blog, so my blog for parenting is “RPGdad” - OTG does not stand for Rocket Petrol Grenade, it is a role playing game, I was a role playing game designer first and so much of childhood is so much like we do in the games one of the most important things in role playing game is developing your character, level up, becoming stronger, faster, smarter, better, the six million dollar character . .

JOHNER RIEHL: Putting different attributes in different buckets that would make you sort of become the character that you would be.

ANDREW GREENBERG: Exactly! So the whole idea of how do we develop like that is been a wonderful idea to me and I don't want to use my daughter as an experiment, there is a classic example the 1800 and I can't believe I am blanking on his name, one of our grateful author has got raised this way but his father essentially did raise him as an experiment for his educational techniques. While his son was an incredible success and also messed him up psychologically is what I read. So I have no interest in doing that but by the same token if there are things that I believe are of value, I do want to bring them into life.

So for instance in a lot of [inaudible] games the food you eat heals you, so one thing I have noticed people do when they are playing games towards a healthy things healing eat vegetables and so on I will hear people discussing in chat they actually have a craving for carrots and whatever that is actually healing them on the other hand often it's cakes, breads and so on. I am always been wondering about this, if this is incorporated into again this is something that would inspire that same sort of behavior.

One of the things I would love to find out and try, well I don't like to think of it as experimenting for all new parents pretty much every aspect of the childhood is experimentation.

JOHNER RIEHL: I bring that up because I think that might be something that for a lot of parents that I hesitant to even explore these avenues is they are just a fearful of potential negative effects.

ANDREW GREENBERG: Exactly! My child is already smarter than I am, so I can't go too wrong trying her around on some new things.

JOHNER RIEHL: Maybe we need to try some on you.

ANDREW GREENBERG: John Stewart Mill.

JOHNER RIEHL: Yes, see I knew we blurred it.

SUNNY GAULT: Yes, we did blurred it.

JOHNER RIEHL: Let's take a quick break there is a ton still of ground to cover, some resources that talks about limit, there is even some apps that combines sort of real life play along with the app . . . so there are a lot of cool things. So let's take a quick break and when we come back we will pick the conversation back with Andrew Greenberg.

[Theme Music]

JOHNER RIEHL: Welcome back everybody to Parent Savers, today we are talking about electronics games, toys and tablets and how do they work, can they work, yes I think the answer is . . . it is kind of where the conversation is going is that they can if you use correctly with the right sort of perspective and so we are joined by Andrew Greenberg. So thanks again Andrew for joining us.


JOHNER RIEHL: Let's talk about resources because one of the hardest things I think is to actually find . . . okay I have a tablet, I have a LePad you know what should I be using on it. Have you come across any good resources for what parents can use and what is worth considering?

ANDREW GREENBERG: I have seen a number of fairly interesting ones and I am a big advocate of games for education and I think we have seen these to be very effective. For instance the only reason why very much anybody our age knows anything about Westward Expansion because they played Oregon trail back when they were in elementary school.

JOHNER RIEHL: Do you remember that game Sunny?

SUNNY GAULT: No actually I don't.

JOHNER RIEHL: I totally remember that in elementary school . . .


JOHNER RIEHL: Yes and it was sort of you were journeying across the West, I mean to his point it really sort of draw the point home about Westward Expansion.

ANDREW GREENBERG: Again doing those activities it is not residing facts, there is a joke in the game for health community about the “catch the fruit” games where you got an avatar thrive to and you have got food raining down on it and you gain points when you catch fruits and you lose points if you catch Pizza all whatever.

You don't really learn that way, you learn by actually doing the activities that matter and have a direct relevance and those are the things I love to look for. It very interesting, right now most of what I have seen are essentially following the traditional models of children’s education but with putting him on the iPad I have seen Flash cards, that's a very common one, I have seen sing along. I love the idea of sing along because my daughter loves any kind of music already so having music playing forward she will try to make sounds along with her are wonderful already.

I know I have seen apps that's so you shapes, if you talk about very flick tools they have got all those. But I want things that take advantage more of the specific technology that is in front of you. I will give you an example, I have a friend in San Francisco who is working on games specifically to treat ADHD for children to actually work on their focus and to be honest I know kids who has been diagnosed ADHD and they could tell me everything about every single Pokemon character ever created.

So they could concentrate on something but they are games specifically to help with ADHD. I have seen for autistic children there are games to teach them to cross the street. For many autistic children it was easy to interact with and learn from a computer than from a person.

JOHNER RIEHL: So how can families find these games, it gets tricky right now, I think the app store is not necessarily reliable to discover device.

ANDREW GREENBERG: I agree with you when I started looking at these myself there are a number of apps out there that a targeted at infants and most of them look like the catch the fruit thing I was talking about. They even get flapping traditional old things on an iPad which case I'd rather actual play with the physical shape or they are not doing anything to make a difference. So what I have been looking for are titles that take some advantage to the technology, do something that wouldn't happen outside of that machine. Some of the one’s I have seen, I haven’t got try out yet.

JOHNER RIEHL: So I have seen like “Common Sense Media” is a resource not necessary perfect but they are certainly trying to look at things of wide range of entertainment including games and apps but also they go to new movies and other things. There is a website called Tag with Kidz where Ginny Ged Vincent does a great job of I think looking at some different apps and again trying to classify them into different age groups. But it can be tricky to find these, the app store certainly has recommendations but there are a dozen . . .

ANDREW GREENBERG: As a game designer looking to put titles up there I know how you get titles recommended there is nothing really to do about the quality.

JOHNER RIEHL: I think that there is a sort of a personal understanding with that with parents but if you do not know what to look for then you end up with those on your iPad.

SUNNY GAULT: I usually just Google and just make sure the word “app” is in there. Whatever I'm trying to look for I just Google it . . .

ANDREW GREENBERG: We just end up with so much that way . . .

JOHNER RIEHL: It is hard to dig through . . .

ANDREW GREENBERG: Yes, what I found there is something called Duckie Deck which I was impressed by but I have not tried this one yet. It is definitely made for someone who is older than my daughter but it really seems to be taken advantage of the unique attributes of IOS devices and allowing a child to go deeper than just figure out what shapes, oh I put those squares in the square space etcetera.

SUNNY GAULT: We have actually review a couple of their apps . . .

ANDREW GREENBERG: Oh really, you tell me how do they work.

SUNNY GAULT: I was looking to see if I still had it on my phone, because those are some of my kid’s favorites. Do you remember what they were actually called because they have a few different apps? The Duckie Deck I think.

ANDREW GREENBERG: I just looked through the general Duckie Deck; well I will tell you what I should actually be pulling these things up while I am talking about them since I am in front of a device.

SUNNY GAULT: Yes the Duckie Deck they are hygiene, if it is the one I am thing about there are different types of hygiene type apps and it was funny because we actually just earlier today on another show we recorded. We did an app review for BrushUp which you guys were talking about . . .


SUNNY GAULT: Oh yes we did, it is on my phone right now and that is a great app to. My kids really like the Duckie Deck stuff too, if you go to www.newmommymedia.com and look under our app reviews you will see them but there is one that helps you cut your nails or learn how to . . . you are actually not cutting your nails like you are moving your hands up and you are washing hands and you are cutting nails and there is another one it might be a tooth brushing thing as well but a little bit different than the BrushUp one. So anyways its hygiene, its hygiene kind of stuff.

JOHNER RIEHL: So I thing on Parents Savers we need to build out our apps segment even more. There is a place to go to find is useful apps.

SUNNY GAULT: I think so too.

ANDREW GREENBERG: And this is what I push exactly the one star you are talking about, well it's not just here is a fact you should know this, here is a symbol, it is do the activity.

JOHNER RIEHL: So there is another type of other type of app that I think have sort of emerged over the past few years, they sort of combine apps with real life play. There is product called Osmo and its uses the camera and he can manipulate shapes. There is a product called Tegely which is sort of the same thing real life toys that is able to interact with the tablets. Have you had any experience with those Andrew?

ANDREW GREENBERG: I definitely had checked out Osmo and we have got plenty of those styles of games in the older game space. So I would say early designer what we called LARP (Live Action Role Playing) game and we began including computer system into that as soon as we could and now all sorts of people have incorporated apps to go along with that. There are a lot of peoples who are working in both augmented reality and . . .

JOHNER RIEHL: And augmented reality yes you know those types of where you might be inserting either something you did until like your surroundings like using the camera or maybe vice versa.

ANDREW GREENBERG: Right, alter reality games, augmented reality games and basically trying to involve your device with what is going on around you.

JOHNER RIEHL: What I find really interesting though, there seems to be . . . and it was like this when apps really were blowing up, that just having the word education on it sort of made parents trust it and that is why there are hundreds and thousands “educational apps” now. But I think that even you're a mentioning about shapes manipulation and you rather that your daughter would just do that in real life. I think there is a sort of implicit acceptance if there is a real life component. I think that is a trend that I am sort of seeing that parents are more opened to embracing an app if it doesn’t involve real life play.

ANDREW GREENBERG: And we have seen that also in the toy industry in general the stuffed animals have the characters online, Skylander is a beautiful example of how that is happening now for play. I think that is also a big assistance for education and development and I think that the apps can be effective in that way as in a fist towards the actual hand eye coordination you have to learn.

JOHNER RIEHL: Taking the conversation a little bit in a different way something you kind of touched on earlier but what are your thoughts on limits, inappropriate limits, especially . . .

ANDREW GREENBERG: None at all involves my game.

JOHNER RIEHL: Right! Exactly! That your policy is none all involves your games.

ANDREW GREENBERG: That is right.

JOHNER RIEHL: But I mean what are you limiting is watching that flicks the same as playing a game, do you separate them, is it any screen time. All these activities seems to be one together is screen time and I am not sure if that is still the case or if we are sort of able to split that up but it is such a young sort of industry and space. What is special with these tablet games that the excuse you hear a lot is well there is just not enough research.

ANDREW GREENBERG: I think you hit another very important point on this which is screen time, not all screen time is equal. I have friends who play plants versus zombies, I know lots of very young children who love playing plants versus zombies already . . .

JOHNER RIEHL: And that game for those who haven't heard about it might sound like you know what a waste of time but actually there is a lot of thinking and strategy the goes into that one.

SUNNY GAULT: My son loves that game . . .

ANDREW GREENBERG: There are a lot of puzzle solving involved in that, It is a 4 to 6 hour thing for them to be doing unfortunate my daughter is at the age where my computer fascinates her for a while but pretty soon she is up there grabbing my nose and looking for something else to do, it is not going to hold her attention forever. Children however do love repetition, so one point day they do want to do these activities over and over again, same thing creating comfort level, creating context within their own internal universal. So it is good to have the repetition for them, is this the repetition you want them to have.

So for me again it is the question of what is happening with this tool and is there a better way to achieve that. I do want my daughter to get that hand eye coordination and the physical feel of what the symbols mean, what a block means. The actual physical construction, I love Minecraft but I also want there to be a physical construction going on with traditional blocks.

JOHNER RIEHL: Speaking in of Minecraft I think that it is probably worth mentioning, Minecraft is very ubiquitous and I know that it’s really for older kids but there is Minecraft pocket edition and in my situation with three boys, 8, 6 and 4, the 4 year old is introduced to it through his older brothers. Now when our oldest was 4, he wasn't playing Minecraft now the 4 years old is certainly part of it.

But Minecraft is an interesting example and there is another game maybe people have heard of but don't fully understand. But it is sort of a combination of Legos, survival with some exploding Zombie Creepers and really like if you play the game, the first thing you are doing is sort of building the shelter and you are sort of taking care of needs. Then there are creative modes where kids can just kind of go and will do whatever they want.

So for us personally we really enjoy Minecraft and like let our kids play it but then there is suddenly a point where a little bit is too much. What are your thoughts on Minecraft Andrew?

ANDREW GREENBERG: You also listed out another important area which is social components to it and I am a big fan of how Minecraft allows people to build and destroy together. It is a wonderful early introduction to social interaction on a computer because it is a . . . you can set up for a contained environment in which siblings or friends can play together and learn how people tend to behave in virtual reality and then start allowing them to expand out to a better known server where they can join for a short bit and see how people act, they are part of the educational benefit.

I used to joke there with Minecraft we were raising an entire generation of IT technician because every kid I knew want to build their own servers as soon as possible. And you say that to your 4 year old that is a late bloomer, I know 3 year old and I've heard of 2 years old building consciously in Minecraft.

JOHNER RIEHL: It is fascinating. There is an element of the game where it is creative and it is almost like you can build with whatever materials you want, whatever you want.

ANDREW GREENBERG: Exactly! So I do want the child to have that experience, there are ways to build in Minecraft you are not going to experience it in the need space but I do want them to experience building blocks in need space. Another cool thing with the Minecraft if they can build the building, we can export it into STL file and then we can take to 3D printer and they can print out whatever building they have done in Minecraft.

JOHNER RIEHL: Oh geez that's a whole another level.

SUNNY GAULT: Oh wow that's another episode Andrew.

JOHNER RIEHL: Yes it is. So I mean we have definitely I think covered a lot of ground. I think in talking about electronic toys and tablets and sort of I think there is still the little bit the hardware verses the software in making smart software choices and educational choices and looking at some places to go. But I think to sort of wrap it up let's take a look, what do you think are the key take aways the state of electronic games, toys and apps and what they are doing for kids and what they can’t do?

ANDREW GREENBERG: That there is a definite place for them in a child's life and in a child’s development and it can have an effective role and there is a lot of time wasting junk out there as well. It is not for the child to determine what they are, I think a lot of children will tell you pretty quickly I am sick of this “catch the fruit” game.

But there is a strong role for the parents and the real beauty which we barely touched on is the idea into generational playing. This is something I have been a proponent of for several decades now with the idea of parents, children, and grandparents all playing together as one of the most effective ways to build strong families especially when they are separated by physical occasion, divorce or whatever. This is one of the things I would encourage parents to try out.

JOHNER RIEHL: Andrew thank you so much for join us, thanks everybody for listening. We will continue this conversation for members of our Parent Savers club after we wrap things up with our bonus content, so stay tuned for that if you are member of the club. For more information about our club and how to join visit the member portion of our website.

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JOHNER RIEHL: Kevin Mississippi is a listener that needs some help. He wrote to us and said “my 4 years old has slept in his own room in his own bed since he was 6 months, he had a nightmare one night and now he will just scream and cry just to have one of us sleep with him. Even if I leave after he falls asleep he would wake up a half hour later and just start screaming for me. I asked him why he was crying and he said he just wanted someone to sleep with him. I don't know if I should just let him cry or should I continue sleeping with him. Please help”

So that is what Kevin wrote and I can sympathize with that problem for sure.

SUSIE WALTON: Hi Kevin I am Susie Walton from The Joy of Parenting course and Indigo Village. Having all the solutions as well as handling many of the solution when it comes to parenting. Your guide line is going to be “am I doing something because I feel sorry for my child or I feel like he needs me or I need to go ask him” are you doing that to support your child and because in this instance because I need some sleep.

There isn't a right answer for you, the right answer is the one that works for you. If you are okay with him staying up in his bed and if he wakes up at night and he comes in your room and he gets into your bed and if that works for you then let it happen. Let say you can’t sleep when he is in your bed with you, you might make a bed on the floor next to your bed at night and say “listen, if you wake up at night and you feel like you need to be with me you can come in and you can lay right here on the floor, your bed will be ready for you” and have him come to room if he wakes up.

If you don't feel that works then you can say “if you wake up I am going to take you back to your room because I am in the house and there's nothing to be afraid of, I am here to take care of you”. Now if you want you to fall asleep with him in the night before he goes to bed you know that is okay too if it is okay for you. If you can fall asleep and if you get 2 hours off good night sleep and then you go to our own bed. So you can see that I am not going to give you a definite answer.

My answer to you is what is going to provide you a good night sleep and what helps you feel best about a child. I did the family bed with my four sons because I did [inaudible] to sleep this just made it easier. Some people can't do that, so you are going to decide what is best you, if you want to sleep with you that is fine as long as you can sleep. If you want him to start in his bed first and if it then we accept keeping him coming to your room that is what a lot of parents do and be okay with that.

So I hope this helps out, you let me know how it goes, call in give us a comments and I can give you some other ideas if this doesn't work. Okay Kevin, thank you for being the most amazing dad for taking the time to call in with us question.

JOHNER RIEHL: That wraps up our Parent Savers show for today, we appreciate you listening.

Don't forget to check out our sister shows,
• Preggie Pals for expecting parents
• The Boob Group for moms who breastfeed
• This is Twin Talks for parents of multiples and
• Newbies- for those who are going through it for the first time.
This is Parent Savers- Empowering New Parents.

This has been a New Mommy Media Production. The information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. While such information and materials are believed to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute professional medical advice or care, and should not be used for diagnosing for treating healthcare problem or disease or prescribing any medication. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek the assistance from a qualified healthcare provider.

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