Thursday, 20 December 2012

PEGI Family Gaming Ambassador Challenge (1)

(Sponsored Post)

It's fair to say that, as a family, we love video games, and we play together on our Wii console, as well as I guess individually on PCs etc. The age at which my daughters had great mouse control is, frankly, terrifying, but I guess they are part of a generation with computers in their blood.

While I have always, however, been very conscious of making sure that I limit their screen time, and supervise what they are up to, it is probably fair to say that I'm also conscious of having to stay one step ahead of them when it comes to controlling what they do. When the lovely folks over at the Ask About Games website therefore asked me if we'd be interested in becoming Family Gaming Ambassadors for them,   I jumped at the chance to find out a bit more about how we could get the most out of gaming as a family.

The have provided us with an Xbox 360 with Kinect, and a Flip camera to document our progress over several challenges that I hope will be both fun and informative.

The first challenge was a series of questions around how well we knew the PEGI video game age ratings. I'll be honest - I thought I was pretty au fait with them, but once I got the questions I realised that there was quite a bit I didn't know! For example, I only just found out that PEGI stands for Pan European Game Information, and quite frankly, I couldn't really answer the questions without looking up the answers on Ask About Games!

The first challenge was in two parts - firstly, to answer a series of questions:

1) How many PEGI ratings are there?
A) There are five age ratings; 3, 7, 12, 16, 18

2) Which 3 PEGI age ratings are legally enforceable?
A) The 12, 16 and 18 ratings are legally enforceable for retailers - 3 and 7 are advisory only.

3) How many PEGI Content Descriptor icons are there?
A) Content Descriptors explain a little bit more about why something has been given a particular rating. There are 8 in total

4) What does the Spider icon mean?

A) It means "Fear" - i.e. it might be frighening for younger children (handy to know, as my younger daughter is quite sensitive!)

5) What does the Fist icon mean?

A) It means that the game in question will include depictions of violence.

6) Parental Controls are available on Smart Phones; True or False?
A) True.

7) Parental Control features on a video games console can be used to control the amount of time that your child plays on the device per day? True/False?
A) True. This is an absolute GODSEND for me to have found out, especially when it comes to no.1 daughter, who is notoriously difficult to wrench away from games!

The second part of the challenge was for us to set up Parental Controls on our Xbox. You can see how I got on below:



Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Other Things That Are Wasted on Other People

(Catchy title, eh?)

Following on from a comment on my previous post about maternity leave being wasted on babies, it seemed like a good opportunity to follow up with a light-hearted look at some of the other things that might also be wasted on other groups of people:

- Sex drives are wasted on teenagers. Because really - let's face it - the eager/horny little puppies don't really know what to do with themselves. By the time we've had enough practice to actually do it properly without being too hung up on our bodies, real life intervenes. Work stresses, having to pay a mortgage and - heaven forbid you've had enough sex to reproduce - children and the tiredness they cause don't do vast amounts for the libido. Sad, but true.

Honeymoons are wasted on newlyweds. Following on from the previous point (and thank you to May Day for this one) - what you need after several years of the rat race and general drudgery is a holiday of a lifetime. A two-week blow-out, just the two of you, somewhere exotic where you can rekindle the passion of the heady first few months and spend time away from being just mummy and daddy. Problem is, it's generally frowned upon to go off gallivanting for two weeks in the Caribbean when you should be taking the offspring to a Cornish campsite like everyone else. Even assuming you have babysitters willing to put up with the little darlings, you've probably spent all your money on nappies and gin and can't afford it anyway.

- Requirements for little sleep are wasted on the elderly. My parents are retired. Yet they are often up and about at the same time as me in the mornings. Through choice! No alarm rousing them for work, no kids jumping on their heads. No, apparently once you are retired, you get urges to empty dishwashers at 7am. Again, this is patently unfair. Morning sprightliness should be the reserve of those of us who have to go and earn a crust. If we can't look forward to long lie-ins in our old age, what is there to look forward to? Mind you, the link between early mornings and falling asleep on the sofa after lunch does seem to be a strong one...

- Money is wasted on footballers. I don't think I really need to say much more about this one.

- Fast cars are wasted on middle-aged men with paunches and moustaches. They look silly, but they're the only ones who can afford them. Why couldn't I have an Aston Martin when I was 25?!

- A collection of killer heels is wasted on us home workers. *Sigh*

Go on, I bet you can think of a few more examples?

Blue Sky Thinking

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Maternity Leave is Wasted on Babies

Babies, eh? Cute little, adorable, needy creatures that rely completely on you, and you alone for all their needs. Right?

Wrong.

Apart from the whole breastfeeding thing (let me state at this point that I'm a big advocate, so this is a major flaw in my entire argument, but we'll handily gloss over that for the sake of my argument), let's face it, most babies couldn't give two hoots who provides them with clothing, nappy changing, feeding, bedding, bathing etc etc. Anyone can do it. Yeah, ok, there's a certain bonding element, but you're not going to love your child any less simply by outsourcing some of these activities to someone else on occasion.

Babies are fundamentally boring in the very early days, and not even you broody types can tell me otherwise. For the first few weeks, all they really do is pooh, cry, feed and sleep-at-all-times-except-when-you-really-want-them-to.

Number 2 daughter proves the benefits of box-sleeping
I remember before I had children of my own, a colleague with two daughters who were then roughly the same age as my own two daughters are now said to me that secretly she wished she could have had her maternity leave then, instead of when they were tiny. While to some it may be sacrilegious to admit it, I can totally see her point.

Now that my children are at school, I hear a lot of mums who have stayed at home until now say to me that it might be time they also now looked for a job. My tongue-in-cheek advice to them; don't do it. Yes, you may have a couple of extra hours free in the day while your offspring are at school, but believe me, you will need this time to do all the added administration that comes with school-age children. Dentist appointments, playdates, after-school clubs and school forms don't magically arrange themselves!

Then of course, once they have finished with the school day, there are extra-curricular pick-ups and drop-offs to be negotiated. A logistical nightmare with more than one child, as you can guarantee they won't ever be in the same place at the same time. Hockey practice will clash with choir rehearsals, and Brownies will never handily be at the same time as Rainbows... Plus there's always the odd child who will insist on having a birthday party on a school day. Try telling a 5 year old that they have to go to after-school club instead of a birthday party because mummy's working!

Plus, one major (dis)advantage a school-age child has over a baby is of course the power of speech. Yeah, so maybe your baby will cry when you drop them off at nursery or with a childminder, but a nice cinnamon latte with your colleagues later, and you kind of get over any guilt you're feeling. A child, however, can look you in the eye and ask the question all working parents dread; "WHY MUMMY?". Why can't you drop them off at school every day, why do they have to go to childcare, why can't you come and help in class, why can't you come on a trip... They're manipulative little beasts that know exactly which buttons to press and which heartstrings to tug for maximum effect.

And yes, they are actually more fun - you can do so much more together! My daughters like rollercoasters, and music and riding bikes, just like I do.

Finally, working full-time is a real bummer for your social life. How are you supposed to accept invitations to blogging events, pop round to your neighbour's for a cuppa and a natter, or meet up with lovely blogging friends if you have to book a day's holiday to do it?!

So, yeah, maternity leave is wasted on babies. Who's going to sign my petition?



Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Made in the UK

Eldest daughter and I had a conversation a while ago about how lots of things these days were made in China, which must have stayed in her mind a little bit, for she came into our bedroom the other morning and declared that she had found something that wasn't made in China, namely her pillowcase, which was made in Pakistan.

This led into a lengthy conversation about what other countries manufactured, and how some countries specialised in certain goods - e.g. "all the best watches are made in Switzerland".

"Yes", came the inevitable question, "but what is made in England?". "Lots of things", I replied, quickly racking my brains. "I tell you what, I'll go through the house and show you all the things I can think of off the top of my head".

So I did. Here, therefore, is a completely, random, unscientific post of things made in the UK (yes, I'm going slightly wider than "England") that I came across on a random morning - deliberately excluding food.

First, there were the obvious handmade items, like my lovely jewellery from Natalia Lovat:


Easy.

I was also grateful to see that a few of my cosmetics were made in the UK:


as were the tissues for my snotty nose:



...and when I had my mid-morning cup of tea, at least my kettle and mug were home-grown:


This probably indicates how old my kettle is, more than the state of British manufacturing!

I'm not sure this is scientific enough to really draw any conclusions from, but it was certainly an interesting exercise for both me and my daughter, and it's made me wonder whether I need to make a more active effort to think about the heritage of something, as I already do with the food I buy.

____
(not in any way sponsored!)

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