Remember when RPGs Equaled Satanism?

Satanic Panic

As a tabletop gamer from the early 1990s, it’s a little weird to me that the hobby is so mainstream these days. Most people know of Dungeons & Dragons or a similar game, and shows like Community celebrate the hobby. It wasn’t too long ago that playing D&D meant you were in league with Satan.

I’m serious – if you played a role-playing game in the 1980s or 1990s, your parents probably worried at some point or another that you were getting involved with Satanism. Just as heavy metal supposedly had satanic lyrics if you played the album backwards, D&D was believed by many to be a tool of the occult.

How did this get started? As with most cases of moral panic, it began with adults scrambling to explain senseless tragedies.

Read more at Panic in the Skies!

How (and why!) this 8-Year-Old Learned to Drive from a YouTube Tutorial

Drive Thru

Last week, an 8-year-old boy took his younger sister on a drive to McDonald’s. Their parents were asleep, and the kids wanted cheeseburgers. Supposedly, the brother learned to drive by watching training videos on YouTube. This story serves as a great commentary on the world we live in today. Let’s unpack it, piece by piece.

Read more at BabyCenter.com!

Return to the Sidekickcast

Pathfinder Character Sheet

Once upon a time, I had a column called Beer and Pretzels on Sidekickcast.com, where I shared my thoughts on the wonderful weirdness of role-playing games. All was well for a good long time, but then some dastardly hackers ruined everybody’s fun.

Fortunately, the Sidekickcast has returned in a new form, this time with a broader focus as Panic in the Skies. And I’m happy to say that my contributions to that group has also returned. My first blog entry, detailing the wonderful surprises hiding in RPGs, is now online.

Head over the Panic in the Skies and check it out!

Do You Feel Less Guilty if Screen Time Means Non-Violent Games?

Video Games

My wife introduced our kids to the Mario Party video games. Our kids, in turn, have informed me that for the next few days I should refer to them as Mario and Princess Peach. Thankfully, they didn’t go so far as to ask me to amend their birth certificates.

These games of make-believe sometimes leave me wondering if we’ve allowed too much screen time in our house. But then I ask myself what I and my brothers were doing when we were about that old. We pretended we were robots because we watched Small Wonder every morning.

More significantly, there was a time not long ago where I was worried my son didn’t have much of an imagination. Playing games of pretend seemed to be foreign to him. Now that’s no longer a problem, so unless he starts struggling in school or socially, I’m happy to see him flex his creative muscles.

The fact that our kids have easier access to video games than any previous generation does lead me to wonder which form of screen time is better. Are video games building our kids’ imagination and problem-solving skills, or are they even worse than TV? The research is mixed but seems to favor video games.

Read more at BabyCenter.com!

More Hands-On Dads Means Great Things for All Parents

Dad and Baby

We all know that times change, but I’m not sure we always appreciate how drastically they change. Take stay-at-home dads. They used to be rare but, as discussed in a recent NPR article, they’re becoming more common. The emergence of the stay at home dad has brought a slew of parenting changes for the future.

A survey from the Pew Research Center found that dads have more than doubled their family involvement since 1965, that fewer dads are the sole bread-winner for their family, and that more dads see parenting as central to their identity. However, there’s no road map – this new breed of father is learning as they go.

Even dads who still work full-time outside the home tend to be more hands-on with taking care of their kids. Fathers are changing diapers, cooking, cleaning, and driving kids to activities more than they did in previous generations. But because the roles have changed so dramatically, they don’t usually ask their own dads for advice.

Read more at BabyCenter.com!

The Five Stages of Struggling Through Bedtime

Bedtime

My daughter is willful, and that will serve her well later in life. But right now that willfulness means that she refuses to sleep in her own bed at night, and that’s robbing my wife and I of precious shuteye. As such, the bedtime wars have begun.

Actually, they haven’t really begun so much as they’ve continued for a couple years now. We set rules about when she was allowed to climb into bed with us, and she’s ignored those rules. Exhaustion wins out in the end, and it’s hard to pick a fight with a preschooler at three in the morning.

Read more at BabyCenter.com!

My Son Has a Better Reaction to Bullies than I Do

Bully

The deal my wife and I have with our kids is simple: they have to pick some sort of extracurricular activity, be it sports, dance, or what have you. If they don’t like it, they can try something else. The deal with myself is also simple: I don’t want to be a stereotypical sports parent.

By “stereotypical sports parent,” I mean the most negative stereotype out there – they kind of person who screams at coaches and generally acts like a boor instead of enjoying the game. I’m not that competitive a person, so in theory that’s an easy promise to keep. Despite that, I almost lost it yesterday.

On the bright side, it didn’t have anything to do with me being overly competitive. Instead, it had to do with one kid being a bully on the ice. This guy has been a problem for months, as he seems to think that sports exist only to pummel kids smaller than him.

Read more at BabyCenter.com!