Effects of Video Games

Teens & Video Games: Finding a Happy Medium

effects of video gamesVideo games are a prevalent part of our culture.  How do you counteract the effects of video games? The Video Game industry is ringing up around $12 billion in annual sales. In addition, studies have found that teens spend up to 7.5 hours a day glued to some type of screen — be it a video game, tablet, smartphone or television.

In order to help ensure that your teen’s adoration of video games does not take over his or her life, it’s important that parents set some ground rules. While you don’t want to necessarily eliminate them from your child’s life all together, you do want to be sure that there is a level of responsibility and accountability tied to gaming. Excessive use can have effects and to keep the effects of video games to a minimum you need to manage how much and how often your teen is playing games and find a happy medium. Consider these tips:

Talk about Impact – the effects of video games. 

Video games are impacting our culture big time!  Most of the effects of video games are still unknown. Empowering Parents suggests speaking with your teen when he or she is not holding a controller, and let your teen know, in a calm and non-confrontational way, that you are a bit concerned about the amount of time he or she is playing games. If there are specific issues you are worried about, bring them up in a neutral way. For example: ”Your grades have dropped in English and Math from B’s to low C’s since you started playing ‘Call of Duty.’ I think the two are connected.” Try telling your teen that you understand that video games are a lot of fun, but that you are setting some new rules in regard to their use.

Devise a Plan

While you might want to drastically cut back on how much time your teen spends playing video games, and counteract the effects of video games, it can be more helpful and effective to take a less heavy-handed approach. Instead, let your teen know one new rule regarding the games, and what the positive and negative consequences will be for following it. Start off by telling your teenage gamer something like this: “Starting tomorrow video games will need to be shut off for the night by 8:30. If you are cool about this when I remind you, we’ll stick with this plan. But if your grades keep dropping or you get mouthy with me when it’s time to turn off the games, you’ll lose video game privileges entirely for the next day.”

Be Aware

It’s important to know what types of games your teen is playing. Depending on your comfort level and how mature your child is, you might let him or her play Rated M games like “Halo” and “Grand Theft Auto,” or you might prefer less violent games like “Guitar Hero” or “Madden NFL.” Regardless of what types of games your allow your teen to play, I Keep Safe suggests keeping the video game system in a family room or living room, rather than in your teen’s bedroom.


Playing video games with your teenager can be a great and fun way to spend time together. Depending on which games you are playing, there can be plenty of opportunities for talking, interacting and even problem solving together. As a way to compromise with your teen about video game time, say that a certain amount will be spent with part or all of the family. For example, if you recently purchased your teen one of the new Xbox One game systems, you can look into buying some Kinect games that get everyone up and moving together, or you can find titles that you can enjoy together. These include active fitness games and hands-on games like “Guitar Hero” or “Just Dance.”

Would you like a Free Book on Friendship?

This week was a big week for me. I handed the draft of my first novel over to the most awesome editor. It was scary to say the least and I have to say tested my ability to say positive big time. It always feels like you are handing your child over to someone else when this happens and you just hope they are gentle with it.

To top it all off I then received a note from the amazing Annie Fox offering me a copy of her new book, which I have already read and is awesome. So I thought to celebrate sending a book out into the world I would offer my copy to someone who really wants it. So if you would like a copy of this great resourse e-mail me sarah@sarahnewton.com letting me know why you want and I will pick the best.

Also Annie has agreed to answer any friendship questions you have – so fire away below or e-mail me sarah@sarahnewton.com and I will get them to her.

In the meantime here is a little about Annie’s book.

The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship

50 Ways to Fix a Friendship Without the DRAMA

GirlsQandAFriendship-205x312“There are times when even best friends have problems and times when you wonder who your real friends are! That’s normal, but it can also be upsetting. When we’re upset, we don’t always know how to make things better and we need help.”
—Annie Fox, M.Ed.


• A new girl stole my bff! What do I do? • Why does she keep breaking promises? • Are they really “just kidding?” • Why is my friend being so mean? • How do I find new friends?! • Why are people mean to each other?

When you’ve got great questions like these, you need great answers—ASAP! But where do you find them? Right here in The Girls’ Q&A Book on Friendship: 50 Ways to Fix a Friendship Without the DRAMA

  • 50 puzzling friendship questions from real girls, each one insightfully illustrated
  • 50 clear answers to help you make your next best move
  • 25 Super Friend secrets from older girls
  • 5 Quizzes to test your friendship skills

Annie Fox has written a book that gives 8–12-year-old girls the tools and confidence to handle any friendship challenge with courage, empathy and respect. Because that’s the kind of girl the world needs more of!

Take a look 

Skills Every Parent Needs to Teach Their Kids

skills to teach childrenWe all want to give our children the skills they need to be independent. When our kids move out on their own or go off to college we want to make sure they can take care of themselves. We can teach them useful tips and give them the tools to help them through everyday life. You will lighten your responsibilities by turning some over to your children while giving them skills they need.

How-to’s for every kid

1. Make sure your kids know how to clean up after themselves when they live on their own. Teach your son or daughter how to do dishes. This is something you can teach from a very early age. Teach them about different soaps, detergents, sponges and how to run a dishwasher. You might think they already know all of this through observation, but you would be surprised how many kids actually cannot do basic things once they are on their own.

2. Laundry. Laundry. Laundry. Your kids should know how to separate out colors, what needs a cold wash, what needs a dry wash, what items they shouldn’t dry, the difference between cotton and delicate dry. The last thing you want is a panicked call when your daughter accidentally bleaches all of her clothing.

3. Unclog a drain. Mix 1/3rd of a cup of baking soda with 1/3rd of a cup of vinegar in a measuring cup, then flush it down with hot water to unclog a drain. You can also use a bent wire hanger to pull gunk out of a drain. Preventative steps like placing a hair catch in the shower will keep your shower drains from getting filled with hair.

4. Fix and install a doorknob. Changes in weather can cause doorknobs to stick, rust can create problems and sometimes need replacement. One easy way to fix a stuck doorknob is by spraying it with lubricant. If rust is a problem, show your kids how to use a wire brush to get latches functioning again. Showing your kids how to install doorknobs, handles and drawer handles is a practical skill that will always come in handy.

5. Unclog a toilet. It might be gross, but it will inevitably happen. Teaching your kids how to use a plunger will undoubtedly come in handy. Plus you will have an extra set of hands that can take over the messy chore when you don’t want to.

6. Monitor your pool filter. Not everybody has a pool but if you do, you should teach your children how to take care of it. Taking care of your pool filter is easy to do. Check to see if your water is cloudy or hazy. If it is, that will tell you that you might need to backwash your pool or get a new filter. The In the Swim blog is a wonderful resource for pool owners. It has all the tips you need to monitor, clean and maintain a swimming pool.

We all can teach our kids skills that help them get through life with ease. There are resources online that we all can help our children develop into stronger adults. There isn’t any reason your children cannot take over responsibilities in the home and leave you with more free time.

Three Healthy Habits to Teach Your Teen by Example

parenting teens The way we act as parents can impact the way our children feel about themselves. This sentiment is also true for influencing the health of our children. Although they might not want to admit it, our teens are watching us all of the time, keeping tabs on what we eat, how often we exercise, and if we buckle up in the car. With this in mind, the following three healthy habits are all things we can teach our teens by example:

Be a role model for safety

Do you want your teen to wear a helmet each and every time he or she heads out on a bike or rollerblades? Then as a parent, you should be sure that you do the same thing — every time. This concern for safety extends to other activities as well, notes the CDC, including always wearing a seat belt when you go out to drive, wearing sunscreen, and taking care of your eyes when heading out for a walk. Make sure you child wears UV-resistant sunglasses when outside. If you have some scratched up old shades you’d like to hand down, you can always replace the lenses inexpensively from a company like Revant Optics. If you go hiking together, have your teen help you to put together a portable first aid kit and set aside some bottles of water. By reinforcing these safety steps yourself, you establish a great model for healthy safety habits.

Watch what you eat

Teens and junk food seem to go hand in hand. If you are concerned your teen is overdoing it a bit on less-than-healthy foods, take an honest look at what you are eating and drinking. When you sit down to watch TV at night, do you have a bottle of water or a soda by your side? When you’ve had a busy day and are too tired to cook dinner, do you make an effort to throw together a quick salad and baked chicken breasts, or do you pile in the car and make a fast food run? As Sparke notes, it’s also important to not use food as a reward — at least not too often. In order to teach healthy eating habits by example, try not to motivate your teens with food. If you have had a great week at work and want to celebrate, treat yourself to a new pair of running shoes or maybe a nice new coffee mug instead of a big slice of chocolate cheesecake.

Take care of your body

Another wonderful way to lead by example when it comes to health is to be sure you are taking care of your body. At dinner, mention that you are going in for your yearly physical, and even though it might not be your favorite thing to do, talk about it in a positive manner. Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss regularly — although your teen probably won’t stand in the bathroom doorway and watch you do this, he or she will notice that you are doing it. And if flu shots are important to you, ask your new driver to give you a lift over to the nearby pharmacy and hang out with you when you get your shot.

Social Media Pages Your Teen Should Be Following

shutterstock_168815291-2Ninety-five percent of American teens are online, either via a desktop computer or mobile device, Pew Research reports. Internet-aware parents try to do a good job at keeping our children safe online; we lock down their access to various sites to protect them from all sorts of bad information and influences, and we give them advice on what they should follow. To that end, let’s take a look at the social media pages we think are helpful to teens:

Creating a Newsie Teen

More than two-thirds of Americans get their daily news from the Internet, according to the American Press Institute. Though news coverage is available 24 hours a day, few teens actually follow the news closely. One reason is that the teen would need to consciously seek out current affair information, an act that is not common unless a project or paper is due in school. If you are the type of parent who believes in staying up to date on global news, then ask your child to place a news feed on his or her social media accounts. This way, the adolescent does not need to search for news. It is present for the teen to read or not, as he or she chooses.

If you want to be more prescriptive, then look at the Facebook pages of the larger media outlets. For the smart but free-willed adolescent, Gathering of the Minds on Facebook is a news outlet that offers everything from current science to satirical politics. It promises open and uncensored coverage of ideas so be prepared to have some pretty heated debates about Middle-Eastern politics while eating your meat loaf.

Adolescents and Money

A third of high school seniors use a credit card, yet only a quarter understand how credit works, Charles Schwab reports. Financial literacy is a must, and it is not something that can be taught overnight. Some of the things that you will want your child to learn are credit and return on investments; both of these require a logical analysis of how much money is going out versus how much is coming in. This is the basis of all finance. You are not expecting your teenager to be filling SEC stock holdings, but an understanding of daily personal finances would serve him in the future. Investopedia is a good place for your burgeoning adult to get information about financial matters, and the J.G. Wentworth Twitter feed is a great resource for living-on-a-budget information.

Sports Chat Online

You do not need to suck all of the fun out of social media. Reddit is a fun way to stay up on sports and sports conversations. The Reddit sports category will have links to any number of interesting sports events. Some offer discussion on teams or sports figures, chastising them for poor achievement or making predictions on future greatness. Others have humor for the sports-minded. Reddit is designed to be a forum chat platform, so monitor your child’s activity closely. It is not uncommon for sports enthusiasts to use profanity or other language that would be considered inappropriate.