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Archive for the 'Technology & Video Games' Category

GOOGLE Doodle Winner

Grace Moon, Google Doodle Winner (Oakland Tribune)
Oh, hey! You know how we mentioned the Doodle for Google contest last week and ran one of the finalists’ images? Well, that was the winning doodle and the artist is Castro Valley middle schooler Grace Moon, who won not only fame, glory and the Google homepage yesterday, but a $10,000 scholarship and laptop, plus a $25,000 computer equipment grant for her school. Very, very cool. Congrats, Grace!

Posted on Friday, May 23rd, 2008
Under: Technology & Video Games | 4 Comments »

DOODLE 4 Google

Doodle 4 Google contestantYou know how Google changes its logo so it looks Mondrian-like or Monet-esque on artists’ birthdays, or the OOs suddenly sprout tulips on the first day of spring? Well, the tech giant has been holding a “Doodle 4 Google” contest for kids. It’s time to vote for the finalists and we’ve got to say, those are some awesomely talented kids! The image to your left is from the 4th to 6th grade category, but there are tons more. Check ‘em out, then cast a vote. Or rather, have your kids do it. The national winner goes live on the Google homepage May 22.

Posted on Friday, May 16th, 2008
Under: Kids & Tweens, Technology & Video Games | No Comments »

MYSPACE HOAX Mom Indicted

MBR Remember the horrifying case of the Missouri mom who used MySpace to bully a 13-year-old neighbor to death? Young Megan Meier hanged herself in October 2006, after a 16-year-old boy she’d gotten close to online began sending her cruel and hateful messages, including one that suggested the world would be a better place if she were dead. But the “boy” never existed. He was an elaborate MySpace hoax, says the FBI, dreamed up by a group that included Lori Drew, the mother of a former friend of Megan’s, and Drew’s underage employee.

At the time of the suicide, Lori Drew earned national condemnation for her role in tormenting, harassing and hounding a child to death, but she was never arrested because she’d broken no state laws. The feds, however, saw it differently. This morning, a federal grand jury indicted Drew. She’s being charged with conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers, under a federal statute designed to ward off hackers, but which has never been used in a social networking case until now. The FBI says Drew gathered unauthorized information in direct violation of MySpace’s membership rules, and used that information to torment, harass and humiliate a juvenile. Both Megan and MySpace are named as victims in the case.

If convicted, Drew and her fellow conspirators face up to 20 years in prison.
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Posted on Thursday, May 15th, 2008
Under: Technology & Video Games | No Comments »

MARIO & LUIGI Would Approve

Thinking about redecorating? You might need a coffee table like this one … and the second half includes a little DIY lesson too.

Posted on Tuesday, May 13th, 2008
Under: Technology & Video Games | No Comments »

GRAND THEFT Childhood

Grand Theft Auto IV
The release of the latest entry in the violent “Grand Theft Auto” video game franchise has parents and child development experts wringing their hands. Jack Thompson, for example, a self-styled crusader against video game violence with a penchant for hyperbole, calls GTA “the gravest assault upon children in this country since polio.” Ahem. We prefer the more reasoned approach of someone like Harvard Medical School psychologist Lawrence Kutner, UC Berkeley psychology professor Stephen Hinshaw and Greg Niemeyer, game developer and assistant professor for New Media at Cal.

And Greater Good Magazine is sponsoring a panel discussion – “Grand Theft Childhood? The Surprising Truths about Violent Video Games” – featuring those very guys this Tuesday at 6 p.m. It’ll be in the North Gate Library at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, the wood-shingled building on the northern edge of campus. All free. Bring Qs for the Q&A.

Posted on Friday, May 2nd, 2008
Under: Technology & Video Games | No Comments »

VIOLENCE, KIDS & Grand Theft Auto

Grand Theft Auto screen shot
Grand Theft Auto IV” hits store shelves next week. If you’ve somehow missed all the fuss, been living on a desert island or in a hermitage someplace, “Grand Theft Auto” is an insanely popular video game series in which players work their way up the criminal underworld ranks by stealing, pimping, killing or street racing their way through a gritty, urban environment. Needless to say, it’s controversial. And the latest entry in the franchise explodes Tuesday.

So Times’ video game columnist Gieson Cacho went for a ride-along with a Concord police officer this week to chat about real-life urban crime and the infamous video game, and talked with Dr. Lawrence Kutner, Harvard Medical School psychiatrist and co-author of “Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth about Violent Video Games.”
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Posted on Thursday, April 24th, 2008
Under: Technology & Video Games | No Comments »

BANISH the Bedroom TV

tv2 We’ve all heard how TVs and computers should be housed in the den, not children’s bedrooms, but we’ve usually heard it in the context of internet safety and television violence concerns. Now, the American Academy of Pediatrics gives us another reason: there’s a link between teens with TVs in their bedroom and unhealthy habits.

A University of Minnesota study found that teens with TVs in their rooms watched four to five hours more television per week than their young colleagues with TVs in the den. Kids with their own TVs joined in fewer family meals and ate fewer fresh fruits and vegetables. They ate more fast food and drank more sugary sodas, and they read fewer books and studied less. And the boys had lower GPAs. Yikes.

So what do you do if the TV’s already in there?
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Posted on Tuesday, April 15th, 2008
Under: Health & Safety, Technology & Video Games, TV | No Comments »

Q&A on Video Game Worries

Guild Wars video game
Earlier this week, we ran a Times story on video game addiction, in which experts such as CSU professor Larry Rosen, author of “Me, MySpace and I,” and Walnut Creek therapist Steven Freemire talked about how much is too much — and when to worry. The full text of that story is available after the jump. But first…


Here are excerpts from today’s online Q&A with CSU professor Larry Rosen, Walnut Creek therapist Steven Freemire, and Gamester bloggers Gieson Cacho and Danny Willis…

QUESTION — Hi. Just need some direction and/or advice on where we go next with our situation. My 16-year-old plays Guild Wars. He will spend his entire weekend playing this game. He will also play from the time he gets home from school until late. He will get “warnings” everyday from us (parents) that he must have his homework finished first, he needs to be off by 10 p.m. and on weekends we have to fight a huge battle for him to leave his room. We believe his grades are suffering due to this game. He says it is not due to the game, but rather because he doesn’t understand or doesn’t like the teacher(s).
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Posted on Monday, April 7th, 2008
Under: Advice, Technology & Video Games | No Comments »

GAME ON Too Long

Video game controllerIn this morning’s Times, we look at video game and internet addiction, kids who get iCrazed and how to spot the warning signs before it turns unhealthy. Wii, iPhones and all the technological gadgetry our kids use today are powerful tools for connecting people 24/7 — and for parents who dive into this technology, it can be a wonderful way to connect with your tweens and teens too. But tech toys can also be tools of addiction. Read the story (there’s an accompanying piece on the toddler tech craze, and a column by Times games columnist Gieson Cacho about his own addiction to Everquest, and we’ve put the warning signs here on the blog after the jump), then click “comments” and weigh in with your thoughts. Do you worry about your kids’ overuse of video games or tech toys? Do you set limits for them?
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Posted on Sunday, April 6th, 2008
Under: Kids & Tweens, Technology & Video Games, Teens | 2 Comments »