Stay Cool Dad


The generation gap by Simon Sharwood
September 26, 2007, 12:03 pm
Filed under: Family, Kids media, Mission statement

I took my Mum to see my son at the school musical last night.

It’s a version of ‘Annie’.

At one point the music turns to a bit of a trad jazz number, which moved Mum to remark:

“Oooh! The Charleston! I bet these kids will never even know what The Charleston is.”

I thought for a minute and replied:

“Have you ever heard of Fifty Cent?”

Mum thought for a minute and said No.

Half a second later she exalted:

“And I don’t care. I don’t want to.”

Seems to me there’s an awful lot of parent/child generational media reaction/interaction on show right there!



The big test by Simon Sharwood
June 12, 2007, 4:42 am
Filed under: Family, Games, Mission statement

Well … we have a new games console. A Nintendo Wii.

Here’s what I hope it does for us.

In recent weeks I have been pleased that the kids have, by and large, been getting positive things out of media.

Sure the  super hero stuff sets up some play based on conflict, but I do not see it as influencing their behaviour other than in a few villainous roars. They are not always great, but there is not actual violence, just posturing that can come from the goodies AND the baddies.

A lot of the time, however, they have learned new things and encountered material that has challenged them. Not always. But as we learn to steer clear of the more brainless stuff out there, the kids seem to do alright on their diet of Pixar and UK-produced drama. (Although I am dirty that they are both too young for The Roman Mysteries) And even newspapers have come in handy lately. It is astounding how much dinosaur news makes the papers, while a piece about Tasmanian Aboriginals eating Wombat brains went down a treat.

Which brings  us to the Wii.

The boy has, of late, been playing a simple game called Miner Max that is more about resource allocation than violence. He’s fascinated by the possibilities even if he cares little for the outcome.

For me, that’s the trick with how we set up their expectations for Wii. It’s got to be about exploration, not domination.

It will be interesting to see how we go.



Media Comprehension Discrepancy by Simon Sharwood
February 21, 2007, 1:38 am
Filed under: Family, Mission statement

My son has just started school.

So he is learning to read and this is helped by the fact his school sends home a book each day.

Yesterday’s book was called ‘My Cat’.

The text was ‘This is my cat. He goes up on the Fence … TV … Bed.” Each page a different location.

He got through it alright, but I feel like there is this amazing discrepancy between the media used to teach him (“He goes up on the fence”) and the other media he consumes (This week’s video: Charlie and The Chocolate Factory).

Makes me wonder just what he gets out of television and how we can better match it to his learning needs. Yet another way to feel inadequate as a parent looms …

I dub this one the Media Comprehension Discrepancy.



What will we sing together? by Simon Sharwood
August 29, 2006, 11:52 am
Filed under: I'm so old ..., Mission statement

My wife remembers just about every note of Jesus Christ Superstar. It’s a big part of her childhood.

It’s got me thinking because I wonder what music we’ll share with the kids.

Do I really want to sit with them while “Idol” contestants that our local newspaper recently (and insensitively) characterised as “Tongan barmaids” murder Mowtown over and over? I think not!

Do I think car journeys will be filled with Abba covers after they see “Mama Mia”?

Hell No! We Won’t Go!

So what will we share? I ain’t going to bring them up on the prevailing pap if I can help it (which I cannot, of course). But there does seem to be a dearth of stuff out there with enough zeitgeist to cross generations and set a family into song for years to come.

Or maybe I’m just too much of a fuddy duddy elitist wanker to know.



New theme by Simon Sharwood
August 21, 2006, 11:34 pm
Filed under: Mission statement

Why the new theme? Cos the old one does not display authors’ names.

This one does.

Which is important in a multi-author blog!



Crossover media … aaaargh! by Simon Sharwood
August 15, 2006, 11:54 pm
Filed under: I'm so old ..., Mission statement

Today is new comic day! I’ll be in town so will make five minutes to drop into the comic shop I have patronised for 18 years (wow!) to pick up a few weeks worth of stuff.

And then I’ll bring them home and hide them.

I mainly buy “mature audience” comics, which doesn’t mean porn but does mean some rather nasty horror and violence.

Problem is some of them are also super hero comics. So when the boy sees those he wants to have them read to him.

So for the time being, this is not a media passion of mine I can share. And I’m not quite sure when it really becomes appropriate too either, what with all the hitting and fighting and stuff in comics. Do I really want to let the kids in on this stuff?

Yes, actually. I don’t think cartoon violence is really bad for them. I like the epistomophilia that comes with collecting comics. And I think that the broken narrative that comes with a story moving once a month is good for the memory.

Besides, it’s not as if we’ll be the kind of parents who leave them in front of horribly age-inappropriate movies without supervision.

So … plenty of justification.

But no idea when to start. Or with what.

Let’s get him reading first. But for the time being, I’ll still be hiding the comics I read.

Crossover media … aaaargh!



Keeping up with myself by Simon Sharwood
August 9, 2006, 6:02 am
Filed under: Mission statement

I’m reading Vernor Vinge’s new novel, Rainbow’s End right now.

It’s fascinating in the context of this blog because one of the characters is a seventy-something man who recovers from Alzheimer’s and is forced to relearn the new generation of technology he’ll need to get along in the world in which advanced medicine means he’ll spend rather more years living than he had originally planned.

It got me thinking about my own atrophy in some regards. The whole del.icio.us thing, for example, just leaves me cold. I can’t understand why I should bother. And why would I want an avatar?

And where on earth am I going to find the time to play Second Life or develop the virtual team skills that people are apparently learning in World of Warcraft and bringing to the workplace with impressive results?

How can I make sure that the tech my kids grow up with and make a part of their culture is not something that leaves me behind?

Throwing myself  into it all seems the answer. But quite how and when is another matter.