Thursday, February 24, 2011

Little cheats by you make our kids big cheats in life

From an early age children learn by mimicking those around them. Essentially this is how we are all taught throughout our lives.  The challenge for me and probably for most of us is that we don't always model the best of examples.

I recently pulled into my boy's school for an event. The parking lot like most days was full so we slowly drove around hoping for a spot.

The oldest son noticed many cars parking along the red painted curb.  He asked " why are those people parking there?"  I wanted to respond... "because those people do not think the rules apply to them"  Instead i said "sometimes people follow the example of others, so when one person makes a poor decision to park where they should not, others unfortunately follow that example and make the same mistake." I then continued, " should we park there too?"  Thankfully all three shouted, "NO!"

We drove to park on the street where we observed more poor decisions, but eventually found a spot and had a nice walk to the event.  Along the way the conversation went something like this...

"Dad, look that car parked in front of the fire hydrant, and that one is parked in a no parking zone." This went on for the duration of our walk, and almost turned into a sort of game.

At this school event we mingled with other parents and students.  We chatted about the parking situation, the overcrowding in the classrooms, the 2-3 hours of nightly homework, all the items that I am sure are discussed at every school event across the country.

One particular conversation amongst a small group of parents was quite interesting and very telling.  Apparently one mother was quite upset that her young son had been caught cheating on a test.  She was beside herself on how he would think such an act was acceptable. She claimed to have raised her children to be better than that. 

As the event ended and we all walked to our cars, we saw the same mother and her son getting into their car.  Yes it was one of those cars parked in the red zone.  Perhaps her desire and intentions were to raise her son to be honest, but her action, no matter how small, have provided examples to the contrary.

So next time we decide to cut in line, park in the wrong area, speed or whatever we all take as minor offense, remember who is watching.

Dad said it's OK to set a good example

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Get a Kinect and Get off the Couch

This past holiday season our household, like 2.5 million other households, added the Microsoft Xbox Kinect. It was really the first attempt by the team at Microsoft Xbox to target the casual user, kids and parents.

The concept if you are not familiar is not new. Way back when PC's ruled the games market Microsoft introduced controllers that were controlled by the physical movement of the controller, though they were not popular due in part to the lack of supporting games.  Several years later along comes Nintendo and the Wii. This took wireless controllers and physical movement to a new level. This level of interaction raised the bar in video game immersion and made video gaming a family affair. This past year Sony entered the mix with their Move product... sorry Sony, I am not impressed. It is a poor imitation of the Nintendo Wii so why bother. 

The Kinect takes the idea of game immersion to the next level with full body interaction. The current games have some fun camera features to play back all those funny faces and body contortions that go along with the game play.  For now the breadth of games are rather limiting, - think mini games of various sports, dance and exercise. But they are actually fun to play, though graphically light. My kids can spend hours jumping, swinging, kicking and laughing all while trying to catch their collective breath.

The devise actually does quite a remarkable job of tracking the user’s movement and even has cool user recognition features to indentify you.

It’s not for the hardcore gamer just yet. But, it is however a vision into the future. Graphics will improve. Game developers will use the ability to insert the gamer into the game in real time, in real game like situations. When 3D takes hold in homes, so will video game developers and platforms. The doors are now open to create new gaming worlds for kids of all ages to concur.

But that is the future... for now it's a great and easy way to say OK to video games and still keep the kids off the couch.

Dad said it's ok to play