Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Taco Tuesday, Food for thought: The Jedi and iTunes

When I was young we had Atari. That was it for the video game world, no internet, no searching for the latest and greatest graphically inclined games, nothing more than Asteroids and Pong. Now, we have so many options of mind melting materials to spend hours wasting your day on that my quest for a happy medium in my home has temporarily gone awry.

 It all started about a year ago when the Jedi discovered my iphone. This was only after I loaded 2 games on my phone to keep him busy in one of 2 places, the doctor’s office and the grocery cart. We loaded Hatch, a silly game where your child can crack and egg and see what crazy animal hatches from it and the other was a game that had them trace a letter on the screen with their finger to the sounds of a cheering crowd.   The Jedi then began a love affair with anything and everything Pirate. There entered our great idea of finding him a game on my phone where he could sail the Seven Seas without leaving the confines of our home.  It worked for a while. I used the game as bribery (yep, I said it…BRIBERY!). “Go make your bed and clean up your room and you can play the Pirate game on Mommy’s phone”. It worked. I got what I wanted and he got what he wanted. Until….

 On a dark and cloudy day about 2 months ago I checked our bank account on-line. There was a mysterious charge on my bank account reading “iTunes purchase $99.99"!  HOLY CRAP!  I ran to my husband, “Babe what the Hell are you buying on iTunes that cost 99 bucks?”  He swore up and down that it wasn’t him. Okay so who was it, nobody else has my password to purchase anything and it couldn’t be the Jedi who is playing some silly game called  Lil Pirates that just lets you float a little boat around searching for treasure. I got right on the horn and called iTunes direct. The lady on the other end opened my eyes to the whole scam of free but not so free gaming where they pray on young children and it is legal!

 Here is the thing, when you load a child friendly and “free” game on your phone you HAVE to read the fine print! Your child can make purchases through the game even though they can’t read! My son bought $99 worth of rafts for his pirate ship through the game and he didn’t even need to enter a password to do it. Crazy huh! And apparently it is perfectly legal. So when you pick a FREE game for your child to keep them occupied in times of need, make sure the app doesn’t read “Top App Purchases” (see pic below) in the description. This means they can buy things for the game, through the game.   After a lot of ranting and threatening I was refunded my money and immediately broke my son’s heart into pieces by deleting the game.

 Well, one day he jumped ship (Pirate Ship that is). No more Yo Ho Hoing in our house. We have moved on to Star Wars. So we did some serious research and found yet another free game that had no purchasing abilities. Here lies the second problem. He is addicted! It is a problem! We take the game away and he cries, he wants to take it with him on car trips, to people’s homes, to his bed. Ummm, don’t worry, I realize this is a problem and we are trying to gradually find a happy medium with gaming and regular homework, play, chores, etc.

What He Does...
I recently saw an article about a mom that unplugged the whole family for 6 months! No TV, no phones, no games, etc. for a whopping 6 months! See Unplug Your Kids and read about her here.  Sounds cool. She is a gem, she is amazing and the problem is, I am not ready to lead by example!  Thoughts?  I use Facebook and blogging and my phone for my photography work purposes and general staying connected purposes. I wouldn’t have even seen this Unplugged Project if it hadn’t been for my computer.   This mom’s goal is to help you out along the way with ideas of things to do and ways to get through it but I’m still not sure.

I would love to hear your thoughts on giving it all up. I am all for limiting TV, etc. and don’t want my children to get obese and stupid just as much as the next mom. With that said, I like to be able to let them do these things every now and again  so I can actually get something done too without worrying that they are painting the dog red (this has actually happened!).   I am not a crazy holistic mom by any stretch of the imagination. We do crafts, I spend quality time with my kids, we ride bikes, I work in their class rooms but, I also take them to McDonalds and when they ask, “ fries or apples” , I have to laugh! Really, do your kids pick apples at McDonalds?  Well, mine don’t and they also watch TV!

This takes me to my creative moment on this fine Taco Tuesday. I have entered a photo project/class for the month of February called, The Joy of Love.  Each day in February Willette Designs asks you  to capture a picture of one of your loved ones based on a daily theme you are given.  Today (day 1) I was to capture them in “What They Do”.

So here is my son, and What he Does! (on the left)

Happy Taco Tuesday!



  1. So dear to my heart Michele. We have the same problem in our house. My girls don't understand at all why they can't have iphones for their birthday. Umm...you're 4, well you will be 5 but then, you're 5!! We too try to limit tv and such but fall into the same category. Sometimes a momma needs to get some stuff done without a red dog (LOL). I could never go unplugged cuz I have to be accessible for work so it wouldn't be fair. I know we have a friend that offers time blocks for that type of stuff and nothing after 7 ever. Maybe that would work for you :) It sounds like you have a wonderful balance and I know you are a very hands on mom that does not leave her kids posted in front of the tv for hours on end. I bet star wars and french fries are just fine :)

  2. Okay I just love this post! It is so true and has opened my eyes to iphone apps (I will have to keep an eye on which apps I download). I don't know if this will help you like it did my, but I got my son the Vtech mobigo. it is touch screen and my son has gladly taken that in place of my iphone. Granted every once in a while he want to play an app, but far less now that he has the mobigo. Good luck! By the way I am also doing the Joy of love and that is how I came upon your blog :)


    Feel free to check out mine:

  3. Hey, thank you Amy! I am going to check out your blog and the Mobigo! Anything to take repossession of my phone! :) Thanks a ton!!!

  4. OMG! I am rolling over here. I can soooo relate. Fries or apples? Hello....

    Luckily I only just got a smartphone and I can't use the thing to save my life so my ballerinas haven't become addicted yet. But my youngest does want an iTouch b/c her 7 year old friend has one. Seriously??!

    I don't think I could unplug. I am the addict here. I NEED the computer. It's my lifeline to adults. I'd be a basket case without it. And I just found your blog, so I vote, "Don't do it!" because then I wouldn't be able to come back here and feel normal about my kids.

    Doing Joy of Love too. Very excited about it! :)