I have been thinking about kids' games. The purpose of these games is to prepare them for a productive and happy life. The game they seem to play first is one where they take something out of a bag and put it back in. I wonder how many market situations are like this in which the game prepares you. The gap to a new level is one. The refusal to go up a certain large amount is another. The inability of a market to be number one is another. Other situations include when the price hasn't been fulfilled, and when the stop hasn't been hit. I will attempt to quantify this and other lessons that we can learn from kids, and would appreciate your help and suggestions.

Mark Goulston comments:

While you're on the subject of kids' games, you might want to check out zoooos here. It's an educational interactive toy/device that three year olds can use to interface with educational DVD's rather than plopping in front of a tv.

J.T. Holley offers:

I have been thinking about kids' games. The purpose of these games is to prepare them for a productive and happy life.

When my three kids were each around one or two, my favorite activity was to play the interaction/game Peekaboo. That purpose, it seems, is to spawn and draw out those beautiful smiles and giggles in that specific stage of development. But it also could very well be the initial training of anticipation for earnings announcements, IPO's, government figures, AP headlines, CNBC guests talking, and spin offs. We all know what's coming within a half a deviation most of the time, but we so easily giggle and get all bent out of shape with enthusiasm and expectation. It's as if the Mistress places her hands over her face knowing that she can make us all giddy and put a smile on our faces. She controls our giggles.

Jeff Sasmor comments:

My younger daughter learned to read whilst playing Role Playing Games (RPGs) where there's a lot of dialogue popped up for everyone to read aloud. Many games are also good for hand/eye control improvement. That said, Grand Theft Auto is NG and other M-rated games are not for kids. Excessive use of games and videos as babysitters is also bad. It's also no good for kids to be so booked up with sports, tutoring, music, et al after school that they don't have any free time and can't have a social life!

But not everyone can afford a nanny and parents need some rest once in a while. What parent hasn't envied the DVD player in the minivan? What parent hasn't plunked down their child in front of the TV to watch Lion King so they could rest? A kid with a Gameboy in the back seat of the car lets you concentrate on the road rather than having to concentrate on the child's needs while driving. A kid reading a book in a car may throw up. And checkers in a car? Well, maybe magnetic checkers …

Many video games teach logic and thought in the same way that chess or checkers do. For example, strategy games where you battle various players against the AI in the game. You move around players and pieces which have various move types and capabilities - and the game tries to knock your players out. These games are very much like chess in spirit.

Both my kids have had an unrestricted diet (but a well selected choice!) of video games and computer use (but no games on school nights so I get a chance to play) and they're intelligent children & excellent students.

Parents have to modulate choices for children, but it's too easy for Grups to blanket-condemn a whole lifestyle and genre because some parents are too lazy to monitor what their kids do. Guidance and monitoring is what's important. Kids deserve to have some fun of a type that they choose. We don't need to control everything down to the last molecule.

Alan Millhone adds:

On our ACF website I always say: Checkers — the mental sport alternative to video games. Children of today are too addicted to video games and TV as babysitters. Children's minds have to be challenged in any way we as parents and grandparents can.

J.T. Holley adds: 

On our ACF website I always say: Checkers — the mental sport alternative to video games. Children of today are too addicted to video games and TV as babysitters. Children's minds have to be challenged in any way we as parents and grandparents can.

OK I'll speak up on this one. Now guys, really, I'm not a spring chicken and I grew up with a Stretch Armstrong, Green Machine, Red Rider, various board games, Cable TV, microwaves, and yes Atari. I also had a Commodore 64 that I won in a raffle from a minor league baseball fund raiser, and I also had my favorite 64 in one electronics kit from Radio Shack. That was only to establish background.

My point is "the ole gray mare ain't what she used to be." I do not, repeat, do not allow my children carte blanche the ability to watch hours and hours of tv, but have ya'll watched what is out there for children these days? I mean in the 70's when I watched tv it was Captain Kangaroo, Electric Company and Sesame Street and all those lingering cartoons from the 50's and the 60's that had smoking, gun shootin', Popeye's tatto's, and fist fights. These days it's Dora teachin' Spanish, Wonderpets dishing out principles, Little Einsteins introducing Classical Music to three year olds, Bear in the Big Blue house teaching four year olds to "Clean up the house," and my favorite on Discovery Kids Prehistoric Planet educating my children about dinosaurs that we were never told about! The bottom line is that it's good stuff and educational in content and delivery as long as you stay away from old man Turners Cartoon Network (junk) and be selective with duration and channel.

Now having said that, tv is no substitute for reading, flipping index cards with numbers and letters, and interacting with your children in the traditional sense. Heck, my little Addie loves reading Dick and Jane.

On the topic of boardgames, I'm an addict and I will say that we've advanced to higher levels as well, as far as education and skills. To once again show my lineage, I grew up with Risk, Stratego, Checkers w/ Grand Daddy Holley, Connect Four, Monopoly, Chutes & Ladders, Pay Day, Perfection, Simon, and Axis and Allies, my favorite game around 16 years old. These board games today made by Cranium are out of this world. If you want to see your children ages three to eight stimulated and become a ball of laughs while learning competition and creativity, then go buy Cranium's Hullabaloo either on DVD or with the Simon-esque plastic voice box. The other that I highly recommend is a newer game called Zingo! It is a mix of Memory and Bingo. Once again, the bottom line is that kids these days have far greater choices and boardgames to play than the classics that we had. If you play enough of these newer boardgames, you'll see that children at an earlier age are picking them up than it seemed before.

I won't even go into Leapad, Leapster, and the other computer stuff that exists out there in the electronics world today. It ain't all Doom, Drive-by Shoot 'em up either!

Yes, myself and my children spend countless hours walking paths identifying trees, birds, rocks and such. We run, bike, hike, and swim too! We also do Tae Kwan Do, Soccer, Golf, Bocce, Badmitton, Croquet, and Kick the Can.

James Sogi offers:

A favorite kid's game is "drop it." My kids would say, Dad pick it up … drop it, Dad pick it up, drop it etc. It's lots of fun.

A favorite market game is market drops. Dad picks it up … market drops, Dad picks it up … lots of fun. It's profitable too.

Nigel Davies adds:

I'd like to put in a word for computer games for kids, which don't necessarily include shooting aliens or others with laser guns etc. You not only get strategy and problem solving in quite realistic scenarios (well kind of realistic!), but also the development of computer and motor skills. The characters can also talk in context. The 'Thomas the Tank Engine' series are especially good, especially 'Thomas Saves the Day.'

Even with board games I think they can be made much more fun if they're on a computer with nice graphic presentations, warnings about illegal moves, ready made opponents etc. You and your child can take the same side against computer generated play, much better than having you beat them or letting them win I think.

My son's a bit young for chess right now but when I do start him off, it will be with Chessmaster, not a strong program but with nice graphics and teaching facilities.


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