Episode 5 : How Gaming Shapes Modern Parenting: An interview with Lorrie, parent of a 7th Grader.

During the pandemic kids started to game more, and parents realized they had to become a part of their world. Newzoo did research and asked gamers about the reasons why they play games. A third of 10-20-year-olds cite socializing as a major reason for playing. This is confirmed in this episode by Lorrie. You will hear a parent experience and learn from her viewpoint. We hope you enjoy listening.

INTRO: You’re listening to the GuardianGamer podcast. GuardianGamer is a new service that offers kids the age of seven and up mentorship and a safe space to play video games.

I’m Sarah Lai Stirland. I’m a co-host of this podcast. We’ve talked a lot about what happens within online video games in past episodes. But what about how games affect kids and families in the quote-unquote offline world?

We are listening to parents.

That’s what we explore in this episode. I’m talking with Lorrie this week. She’s the mother of a 7th grade boy who loves playing Fortnite and Minecraft.

Video games were affecting Lorrie’s son starting around Fifth Grade — even when he wasn’t playing them.

As you’ll hear, her son wasn’t allowed to play Fortnite back then. But after he complained that he felt left out at school because everyone else was playing, Lorrie relented.

Then the pandemic hit. As for many of us, games became the safe place for her son to carry on his social life.

As parents, we all worry about the impact of video games on our kids’ health. That’s why we thought it would be great to kick off a conversation about the subject with Lorrie, a parent of a son who has an avid interest in video games.

Lorrie talks about how she manages manages that interest. She also talks about how gaming has affected his perception of the world.

We thought it would be interesting for parents to compare notes.

SARAH: So Laurie Tell, tell our listeners a bit about yourself.

Lorrie: So I have a seventh grader, and I met Heidi … our boys played baseball together, and, and then they just, well last year they weren't really on campus, but they still kind of kept in touch, and a lot of that was gaming last year during quarantine.

 … You know I'm not into gaming at all. As a parent, I know some parents do game with their kids: I’m not a gamer and I kind of don't even really, or I didn't really know what the kids were doing.

But I always kind of kept an eye on my son and I asked him a lot of questions once he got off games and stuff.

We did have a rule of no playing with strangers, so there was no sort of group gaming unless you knew the people. And sometimes the kids would bring in other people they knew that maybe my son didn't know and I was always kind of wary about it, but I'd ask a lot of questions — you know who was on it, were they someone your same age, those kinds of things.

And then, as the year progressed, he was getting more and more into it and he was trying to do some streaming, and that kind of worried me because I thought, you know, I don't want to face, you know, on YouTube and all these things but I realized … I used to make him wear sunglasses and a hat.

And it was kind of fun for him in a way, because he had this sort of alter ego that he was playing online.

And so when the GuardianGamer stuff came about, it was really interesting to me because obviously I'm interested in my son being safe online.

And I think you can tell kids consistently through school, parents, you know, peers, you need to do these things to be safe online.

But I just believe that they are also young, and they want to have fun, and they don't always foresee the consequence later.

And so by giving out details or playing with someone random can be dangerous, so I worry about that.

So I just I found that GuardianGamer allowed me insight into exactly what he was doing sort of the first version of what was tested was more just him playing with a GuardianGamer.

Sarah: O.K. So what kinds of games does he like to play?

Lorrie: Well, Minecraft was very early on, when he was younger. And then that kind of lost steam.

And then he picked up Fortnite … which I … the first year Fortnite came out I was like: “No, you're not gonna do that.”

And then he talked about, you know, different friends he started having different friends at school and I said: “Well what happened to so and so?”

And he’d say: “Oh, all they do is talk about Fortnite, and I don't even know what they're talking about.”

So at that point I kind of thought, you know, I just took him out of a social situation where kids relate, and now he is like on the outside of that because he doesn't know about it and I wasn't super concerned I just kind of crossed my mind.

What grade was,

I would say, I want to say fifth grade it might have been fourth, but around fifth grade it got really popular. And then sometimes he would say, oh, it's kind of down I don't even care, You know, whatever. And then I think it was last year is when I let him first start playing Fortnite.

So we, actually, we put it on the TV, so it's on the big screen. And he's like: “Well I want to show you this, and I want to show you that!”

And to be honest, I really wasn't interested, but then once I saw the graphics I'm like: “Wow! This is nothing like the games we used to play.”

SARAH: Interesting. Yeah, well that's a really good idea to have your kid play it on the TV.

LORRIE: Yeah, cuz you really get to see what they're doing now it's in his room, which is a little, you know, I wasn't sure about it, but I am able to go in anytime obviously did some privacy things like I have to knock, but the I think the biggest part he doesn't want me to see is, it's not see it's the hearing, the way the voice talk, because he I think he probably knows it's disrespectful to me. So he I notice what he does when I know, because he's like, okay, don't do anything my mom's coming in. So I think it's just kind of funny. Yeah.

I was in technology so I understand that part but the gaming I never really got into we did arcades, when I was younger, like high school. And of course we had the older chart and stuff and like the handhelds, but this is a whole new level and it's actually exciting when I look at it because I am interested in technology.

I don't look at it as a bad thing, I think the kids can actually learn stuff from it like I notice before my son even tried to talk me into it, I noticed the strategies that they use.

And there's some things that are not as positive to me like the reward system and points and the levels and stuff like that because my son recently compared it to grades — like: "You go to school, and you do all these things, but your reward isn't until like way later when you get your diploma. Not like I'm saying that's bad, I'm just saying in gaming you get it right away."

So it's sort of an instant gratification.

SARAH: What did you say to that?

LORRIE: Well, I was shocked at first. I was: “O.K., that was a really interesting perspective.”

And that's usually codeword for me … I need to go back and I need to think about this, to see how to respond because I was like, okay …

SARAH:  That’s the the equivalent of: “You've give me a lot of things to think about!”

LORRIE: Well the problem is is I never know and he's trying to outsmart me — so he's making gaming look really good and school not look so great … or if he's really feeling this way. So I decided to step back and not say too much, and then later I did come back in and ask, and he did give me more of an explanation and then I gave him my perspective, because I think sometimes …

SARAH: So what is your perspective? What did you say?

LORRIE: Well, I think they're two totally different things. You know, I …

SARAH: I'm just asking on behalf of parents who might be listening to this.

LORRIE: Well, I think that for me, I love that he gets the socialization, and some of the positive things from gaming.

But school’s a different story, and I, and then it made me actually challenged myself, my own thinking, saying, well actually has a good point because we go through this whole school system of stuff, just to have a basis to get into college to go to more school to get a degree then to get a job, when in reality they could be learning better things in school to allow them to go off on their own and, and some of these kids might have great ideas but they get squashed because they have to fit into this mold of school, and I wasn't thinking that before.

SARAH: So how did you phrase it to Adrian?

LORRIE: Well, I basically told him: “You know, our school is set up the way it is, it's probably not going to change anytime soon and grades are super important once you get to high school. And so if you want the freedom, if you want to get your education and you want the freedom to have a great job based on your education, you need to do what you have to do. Those are the rules. That's the game. You got to play it, everyone's doing it, you got to do it.

It doesn't mean that you can't go outside of that and create something else for yourself.”

And then that's when I mentioned a lot of these kids that are creating their own companies on the side that get them to college.

You know, so keep your passions, but follow the game.

SARAH: You can even create your own company in Minecraft or Roblox.

LORRIE: I did not know that.

SARAH: How did the pandemic change Adrian and your relationship to videogames?

LORRIE: So I would say that the interest has increased, as he's gotten older.

I know in the fifth grade — that’s when pandemics started — so it was the end of the fifth grade and beginning of the sixth grade —  and he still had …

Everything went online, right, so he's signed up for all kinds of activities.

So he was doing library online, where the librarian would get on and they read a story and then they talk about the author of the story and stuff.

He was taking Spanish online and also doing school. But in fifth grade, there wasn't a lot, and when Sixth grade came around … and he still wasn't gaming a lot, it was kind of here and there.

And then, once Sixth grade started … I'm a single mom, and I also work from home, and then I have a business aside from that.

So I'm super busy. I was lucky with my son in that he was very independent and he's very organized, and he got himself set up with a schedule.

I didn't even know his schedule, so he knew how to get himself online. He was in class and to be honest, I think he did pretty well on with distance learning. There were times he didn't turn stuff in and I would check and ask him “What's up?”

You know, but overall I was really happy with what he did. And I guess there were discussions between him and I, where I just said: “School is priority. You need to manage your schedule, and if you need help, you ask for it.”

But I didn't put a lot of limits on the gaming, because I felt like they had a lot of pressure already, as it was. And there really  … His activities just stopped.

So he had, you know, tennis, and Taekwondo, which he goes four to five times a week between the two. And they just didn't have them, they couldn't even go outside to the tennis classes so it was really difficult.

So I just thought, you know, this is his only way to socialize with his friends.

So I went ahead and just allowed it, and I kind of just said you know I'm not gonna mess too much with the, the boundaries of what you should be doing and not doing.

With that, I did tell him, “If I see for some reason you're overdoing it or if I see your grades, you know start dropping, or you're not doing your homework, and then I will make adjustments to what you're doing with your gaming,” and he understood that. So he was pretty it was pretty good.

And same thing with the phone and, you know, and then he'd say: “I know I'm not supposed to do electronics, but can I do the TV?” and you know I think he just needed some downtime and you get tired and just sitting around the same house with your Mom! I get it.

And then I'm feel guilty because I'm working all the time. So we made time. He had to go out and exercise every day. So we had to go for a walk together, or bike ride or something, and it worked out okay.

SARAH: Does he tried to talk to you about the gaming and how does it. How does that work?

LORRIE: And he actually tried to get me to do it. So he's had me play Minecraft, I'm not great at it, and I'm not fun for him to play with at some point because I'm not very good at it.

I think I even tried Fortnite, but I was like, how are you do it? I just couldn't get the, the hand-eye coordination or brain coordination whatever that was.

And so he does talk to me a lot about it and sometimes it's too much. And I let him talk and talk and talk and then I go: “O.K., can we talk about something different? How was school? It's not that I don't want to hear it. It's that I want to change this subject because you're telling me a lot. It's like information overload.”

So, I think it helped him to try the streaming, because he had a way to get it out and talk about it.

I said: "Pretend like you're teaching somebody, You know when somebody watches your video, you're explaining and describing, you know, what you're doing.”

And, and not only with the streaming to to learn to do that but he learned the technology and the background.

So, what he needed to do, like with the capture card and his switch to audio, to all of that, I thought was really beneficial.

SARAH: So, he actually took your suggestion and started explaining various moves in games and that sort of thing.

LORRIE: Yeah, and a lot of it was very light, you know like, oh I'm gonna do this now … you know, it's really kind of funny when you look back at the videos. So I wouldn't say it was like his end product, it was the very beginning …

SARAH: Well, you gotta start somewhere.

LORRIE: Yeah, totally. And he had no shame you just put it up there. He’d send it out to all his friends, here’s my video. So was that on Twitch, Twitch account. He started with YouTube, and then later got a Twitch account.

SARAH: So I assume he uses a pseudonym and he doesn't use his full name?

LORRIE: Yeah, and I even told him when you're in gaming with your friends don't use their names, either. You got to be careful like use your, you know, other names. He doesn't do it anymore. He had a moment, and then he's like: “O.K. I'm done. That's not fun anymore.”


LORRIE: Now he's moved from Fortnite back to Minecraft. And there's a couple new things that are playing that I'm, I don't really know about.

SARAH: Cool, so sorry. You were telling me about being the guinea pig in GuardianGamer. Tell me a bit about using it, you know, any thoughts on Adriaan using it. What did he say, what was your opinion of it?

LORRIE: He just said, yeah, it was fine, you know, nothing's ever really a big deal for him, so he's just like yeah you know it was fun to play with them and I actually taught him some things too. So it's kind of funny.

But I think as a parent, for me it was really beneficial to get the feedback from the Guardian, because then I could understand what it was like to play with him.

And I think the two of them kind of hit it off personality-wise and so it was really nice for them to connect.

SARAH: Well, you must have liked it, because I heard the other day, I think — was it Adrian? — that built with Alex Cridlig, one of the Guardians, they built the Monterey Bay Aquarium together.

LORRIE: Yeah, he, he likes to create stuff. So it's like that part of it is fun for him.

He switches back and forth between … because I always used to say: “You know what spend more time on something that you really enjoy that could later on be something that you end up wind up doing. Do that.

“If you're going to be on electronics” — this was my original thing I said before all the gaming was  — “try to learn something.” you know … so he picked up Photoshop.

Last year, and he went through the tutorials, and he started doing all this stuff and now  — I know nothing about Photoshop — and he's like, modifying everything. Like he does all this stuff.

SARAH: … I might have to hire him! …

LORRIE: … and I said, keep doing something like that. And you could do projects on the side and get paid.

Like that's something that's, you know, I think, is really positive. And he would always come back and say: “Well you never know I could work for a gaming gaming company.” [Laughs]

SARAH: That’s so cool. I used to spend I'm in any child and I used to spend a lot of time on my own learning photography. I mean, it sounds like Adrian doing Photoshop!

LORRIE: Yeah, he loves it, he still does it. And his friends will ask him, like I know his cousin said: "Hey can you make my profile pic and this is how I want to just design it and do it,” or whatever.

He comes up with some funny stuff. Some things are not so funny, like the meme stuff and I don't get it. And I don't know what parents get all the memes. But apparently I'm past the age of getting all of them, so …

SARAH: That’s so funny. Um, so, I guess, is he really into the Monte — do you guys go to the Monterey, Monterey Bay Aquarium a lot? is the and does sea life and oceans.

LORRIE: He’s a water kid definitely, he started surfing. This year, so he likes, he likes the beach we go to the beach, once a while we're not every week there every weekend, but I think it's something he enjoys. I think he really just enjoys creating anything visual, he's, he likes to do stuff like that.

SARAH: So, is there anything specific about the reports that you might be able to share with parents?

LORRIE: I think the structure of the report was good because there were things that, You know, talk about your own child, that you don't always see as a parent, but like, maybe something that they taught them, which that came up in the report, which was nice.

And then the other part was, kind of, how they interact — are they respectful? Or are they, you know, more behavioral, and so that was really important to me.

And the rest of it, you know, I think it was just fun for him. In that first version was really, you know what my comment was and feedback was, I think it would be more beneficial with more kids in the same room with a GuardianGamer or a Guardian, because that would give you a more real life situation.

My son knew this guy was a Guardian, so he was going to be on his best behavior.

So I think it's nice to you know … And I don't know … maybe it's a little bit spying on the kids, but they're aware. They're aware your parents can come in and out, so it's not like it's, it's deceiving anybody.

It's more about being really aware of what your child's doing, so I think it's, it's okay.

SARAH: It’s kind of like having a minder …

LORRIE: Yeah, and you learn about your child. I think learning about them as more than you would just being a parent.

You’d learn about them outside of the parenting role.

SARAH: You know, one of the things I always worry about — and I'm sure you know any parent even of a boy — might worry.

I'm always worried about bullying or your kid being groomed online by some rando.

Have you had a talk with Adriaan about, you know, being on the lookout.

LORRIE: Yeah, we've always talked about it and being safe, whether online or in person, just out with friends or other people's homes. I think the one thing that I didn't realize, and I kind of mentioned this early on is, we can all talk about it, and we can all tell them what the right things are to do.

But they need to be in the real situation in practice what they've heard or what they've learned, right?

So I didn't realize how bad it was online. I actually didn’t. I thought it was, you know — you could just somebody out of the room or whatever.

But he's mentioned a couple times, he just told me a couple of instances and then he's also told me what he did.

And I said well that's great, that's perfect exact situation. And you did the right thing. So keep doing that thing, and when you don't know what to do. And when it continues to happen, you need to tell somebody.

SARAH: You mean like what, someone asking for information?

LORRIE: No, you know, it was more like a, not a bully situation, but someone always like, any time he's in the room, telling him how horrible he is, and how you suck and you know, like it's, it's not great.

SARAH: So how did he respond?

LORRIE: He just said: “ … yeah … he’s just he's just one of those guys, Mom. You just get rid of ‘em, or you just log off.

SARAH: OK, well that’s good.

LORRIE: Those kinds of comments can really like tear down a kid, you know, that doesn't have confidence.

And that's what I worry about you know because I know that the kids get very serious about the game you need to get very competitive, and all you need is that person to come out and make you feel worse and embarrass you in front of everyone. So it's very much, it's similar bullying situation like at school.


I did put a limit for two hours a day, and my son did ask me is that include weekends, I said yes, but we'll talk about it, it's I don't want him on line, constantly. And so he has options, so he can manage himself.

And, you know, don’t go over the two hours, and off by 8, 8:30 And he's been doing pretty good. I think he's, he realizes that and you know I’ve never really taken stuff away from him, but I think he knows that if you know he's not following it, you know I give a warning, and then if that doesn't happen, the next thing you know we're going to switch things up and we're not going to have any electronics for a while.

So I think he understands that because he's seen his friends get things taken away.

SARAH: Such a great interview. Thank you so much for making, making the time obviously you're super busy.


That was a recent conversation that I had with Lorrie, the mother of a 7th grade son here in Los Gatos.

I’m sure that many of you listening constantly face similar situations.

I’m sure that you worry about who your kids are meeting online. I’m sure you worry about how they’re being treated and how they’re treating others. And I’m sure you’re worried about what kind of footprint they’re leaving online.

And kids now often don’t seem to distinguish between the online and offline worlds as much as older generations: As you heard, Lorrie had to explain why her son couldn’t hold the same expectations about the rewards from working hard at school to working hard to level up in a game.

That’s just one example. So it’s important for children to remember how to recognize the differences between the two worlds, and to learn how to navigate through them. They need to maintain healthy habits and expectations.

GuardianGamer is here to help make sure that your kids can practice making these healthy and safe decisions.

And as you heard, the company’s Guardians can also work with your kids to explore their offline interests in spaces such as Minecraft.

Find out more and book your session today at guardiangamer.com.

In the meantime, we’d love to hear about your experiences and how you think video games have changed your kids’ social lives and learning expectations.

Send us a note at support@guardiangamer.com or leave us a voice mail at https://anchor.fm/guardiangamer

[Kodomoi’s Cloudy here]

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