Upset by a Choice in Scholastic's "Lucky" Catalog (Grades 2-3)

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by Starista, Nov 13, 2010.

  1. Starista

    Starista Cohort

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    Nov 13, 2010

    Good Morning Folks,

    So I am happily sorting the Scholastic Catalog Order forms for December... Holiday Books and the latest "Lucky" catalog, which offers books targeted at grades 2-3.

    I love to browse through the catalogs as much as my students do as I am always on the look out for new read-alouds and holiday presents for my class.

    Something, however, caught my eye this time around that made me a bit discouraged. I have always loved and respected the Scholastic team -- their charities and fundraisers can't be beat! And it's awesome how they offer good literature at discounted prices. And if you've ever had to call their customer service for a mix-up they're prompt, professional, and extremely helpful.

    That being said... In one of the latest month's issues of "Lucky," they offer a how-to strategy guide for the "childrens" online role playing game called "Free Realms." The order form coins the game a "3-D Virtual World."

    I did some research on the game and it boasts a browser based game (so no long/complicated downloads for kids). While the game is free to play, there is a "cash system" where you can use real life money to buy in-game cash. It's legal and it's a common system in many free-to-play online video games out there.

    This irks me for several reasons... One: I have known (and been) very heavily immersed with online role playing games (usually called mmorpgs) for years. Games like EverQuest, World of Warcraft, etc... This Free Realms game honestly seems like a WoW-lite.

    In games like these (and Free Realms is one of them) there is no ending. There is no "game over." There is always something to do. I worry that my 2nd and 3rd graders could become very immersed in this virtual world. Parents could easily say "Well, my daughter is on the PC, how bad could it be..? I know where she is, she's safe... maybe she's learning something?" Not all parents are educated about the dangers of too much video game time, especially when playing a game that has no ending.

    I am not worried as much about predators as the game's chat system is heavily monitored and censored. What worries me are children spending hours upon hours in a fantasy world, building houses, and playing characters who are not real.

    Certainly not all children who play this game will become immersed in the online world, but it's a risk. While we hope that parents will approve their children's choices and purchases for a Scholastic catalog, this is not always the case.

    Anyway... So sorry to sound "soapboxy." I have seen many adults, old enough to make their own sound choices, almost waste away infront of a PC screen playing online video games like this.

    Please, please do not take this as a personal attack if your idea of relaxing after work is firing up your PC or console and playing a few hours of Call of Duty or whatever. That's fantastic for you if it does not interfer with your real life. When I was playing too much WoW, I was unable to limit my gametime... My issue, not the games. For kids unable to limit their game time...? I don't know where the responsibility falls... games? parents?

    I spent the better part of my early and late teens connecting to local BBS and playing video games and my educated parents (Mom was a teacher) thought I was "learning something." This was in the mid-90s, however, and hopefully we know a LOT more about PC, Net and gaming than we did then.

    There are people who can moderate their game play and people who simply cannot.

    When I see a reputable and well-respected company like Scholastic offer strategy guides to what seem to me like a "stepping stone" to games like World of Warcraft, Warhammer, etc... it worries me greatly.

    PS. Incidentally, Free Realms is made my Sony, who also put out online role playing games like Everquest, Vanguard, Star Wars Galexies and of course the Playstation console.

    PPS. Free Realms is rated 10+... Disappointed that the strategy guide was listed as a choice is a catalog for kids in grades 2 & 3.
     
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  3. SwOcean Gal

    SwOcean Gal Devotee

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    Nov 13, 2010

    You should write to scholastic and let them know. Interesting point
     
  4. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Nov 13, 2010

    Not everyone likes every type of media. I personally do not like children's stories that give animals human characteristics. I can guarantee you that they won't banish per my request.
     
  5. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Nov 13, 2010

    I object to quite a few of the Scholastic items offered in their catalogs. I'm with you on this one. It's a money maker for them, though, so they will offer it. I agree that it is a dangerous thing for kids that young to get involved in.

    Starista, do you still play? Do you have it under control?

    I think you should let Scholastic know how you feel about the product.
     
  6. Starista

    Starista Cohort

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    Nov 13, 2010

    Thank you! I plan to write them a well-thought out letter during the Thanksgiving break. :)

    No I have not played an online role playing game since late 2007, thankfully for me. :)

    There are many types of books on Scholastic that I do not like.... products too -- I remember as a child my Mom never letting me buy some of the toys or "girlish" products -- like diaries with a flimsy lock and key haha... or the books that came w/ a free "BFF" necklace that was heartshaped and split in two...

    I just worry about the social and physical effect of games like these on our students, very much so.
     
  7. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I think that lots of students suffer from over-use of computers and not just from role-playing games, though those can 'hook' them more easily than other types. Personally, I think some of the results are - reduced focus, impaired decision making in the real world, lowered social awareness and levels of empathy.
     
  8. GoehringTeaches

    GoehringTeaches Comrade

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    Nov 13, 2010

    My children are limited to 20 minutes a day on the computer. Call me mean but I'm not going to allow them to be one of those technology tweens! If they can't get done what they want to in 20 minutes, too bad. There's always tomorrow. Not every parent is like me in that regard though. I completely understand how you feel. My oldest wanted to order some spy package from scholastic last year and saved his money to do so. They ended up not having it and gave him some voice recorder instead and a coupon saying sorry. I personally ONLY buy books from Scholastic and I tell them that's all I will buy with my money for them.
     
  9. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Nov 13, 2010

    Blue-that's really interesting! Why the dislike over animals with personalities? I'm sure you have a very good reason-I'm very curious!
     
  10. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Nov 13, 2010

    This is exactly why I dislike Scholastic. Especially the book fairs. It's all about fluffy pencil tops, or erasers shaped like $100 bills, or other useless, overpriced crap. I'd love to see what the spread looks like for our book fairs...how much crap compared to how many books. Makes me mad!
     
  11. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Nov 13, 2010

    All three of my boys have played Free Realms at some point in time. None of them every really got hooked on it. I've played online mmorpgs before and - at times - I have spent a number of hours playing one game. I've also allowed my oldest son (14 next month) to play mmorpgs with me, so we could "team up". I normally use a timer and a log sheet (to record the amount of time spent on the computer) as a means of controlling how much time they spend on the computer during a day.

    As far as not wanting them to play characters that are not real, that could also be extended to not emulating other fictional characters like Thomas the Tank Engine, Dora the Explorer or even Scooby-Doo. None of those characters are real, so it might not be a good idea for kids to imitate their actions
     
  12. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Nov 13, 2010

    Jem, There are so many wonderful books out there that depict life as it really exists. Picking a good book is hard for the average parent, so banning a whole category helps them choose a better book. Most of the Golden Books are about some fluffy stuffed animal saving the day.

    In essence I do not object to any high quality book. At my last job the library had about 10,000 books and CD's and other media. First of all, the school did not need that many, nor did it have room for that many. I eliminated the less than great books, and noticed that most of them were the pretend animal type.

    Of course, this is my OPINION, and I have been blasted a lot lately.
     
  13. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Nov 13, 2010

    Yeah kids that young shouldn't be playing MMOs. They should be playing the classics like Mario
     
  14. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Nov 13, 2010

    Or reading...
     
  15. Starista

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    With absolutely nothing but respect to you :hugs:, I must disagree on your comparison to emulating fictional characters. If my students are having dramatic play and imitating a character from a story-book... that is completely different than sitting infront of a PC for hours upon end. When I was small I remember that I used to run around the house as a Von Trapp child wrapped in a curtain. :)

    That is "real-life" dramatic play. Spending an excess amount of time working your Avatar that could eventually disappear at will of SOE is so very different.

    I am happy that you keep a log sheet and a timer. As I stated clearly in my original post, my concern is for the children and parents who do not understand the potential addictive nature of these online video games. It's also fantastic that your children have never become hooked on Free Realms, but the potential does exist for children to become immersed.

    I belong to and help administer a site for people who have found their lives unmanagable as a result of them not being able to control the amount of time they spend on MMORPGs. It's a not-for-profit organization with an annual board meeting, etc. It strives to help people who can't limit their game time.

    Again, sorry to all if I sound soap-boxy. I just have seen the reality that is the demise of marriages, families, careers and education as a result of people unaware of and unwilling to control the time they spend playing these video games. Thus, when I see games like these advertised on Scholastic.. it just gave me the chills. :)

    Thanks to all for keeping an open mind about this topic. Online RPGs are here to stay, folks, and they are going to get more advanced and more like reality that we ever imagined. It's like the holodeck from Star Trek -- haha! :) But, seriously... With the advance of more "socially acceptable" (and so so widely played!) games like World of Warcraft and MMOs targeted to children... Yikes!

    **If you ever want more info on how to help a loved one, spouse, whomeevr limit their time, attempt to moderate or quit altogether online RPGs, do not hesitate to PM me. :)
     
  16. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Nov 14, 2010

    A person can play video games and still read

    I read almost every night to get to sleep. I play video games during the day to entertain myself.

    I have done so for many years

    Reading and playing video games are not mutually exclusive

    Also, many of the older games are great for vocabulary. Since they didn't have voice acting, you had to read wait the characters were saying.
     
  17. paperheart

    paperheart Groupie

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    Nov 14, 2010

    I like that you have such passion for your concern. You definitely explained some facts I didn't know. I do think the one benefit I can think of on the flip side is children interested in these game communities who are also reluctant readers can be "reached" with a book that excites them.
     

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