Are 3-D movies bad for my kids’ eyes?
Answer: Probably not. Which means, unfortunately, that you can’t use the “It’ll make you go blind!” excuse to avoid another trip to the theater. Still, 3-D technology is now invading the home front. Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, and Sony are all manufacturing 3-D televisions, and Nintendo is at work on a 3-D portable gaming console. So moms should look to their children for any signs of discomfort. “Until we know more, logic should dictate. If your child complains of a headache after a 3-D experience, opt for the 2-D movie or video game,” says Martin Banks, a professor of optometry and vision science at the University of California, Berkeley, who has studied the effects of 3-D. It is wise to score seats toward the middle or the back of the theater or to make sure that your kids don’t have their noses glued to the television. Because 3-D works by having your eyes fuse together several images, the strain could be heavier when there’s less distance between you and the image.
My child says he plays video games at school. Seriously?
Answer: Yes, seriously. But before you protest (you’re paying how much for that education?), know this: Technology can be a great tool for teaching math, science, and problem solving, especially if it gets kids excited about learning. First graders, for instance, can bowl on the Wii and practice their addition while counting pins. Middle schoolers can work on their geography skills by searching for international treasure in Learn Geography for Nintendo DS ($20, amazon.com).
Is it poor etiquette to allow my kid to play with his Nintendo DS or my iPhone at a restaurant?
Answer: Not if it’s a restaurant where he would normally be doodling on the place mat with crayons anyway. “Playing a video game isn’t much different,” says Lesley Carlin, an advice columnist and a coauthor of Things You Need to Be Told (Berkley, $14, amazon.com). Indeed, an app like Paper Town Friends ($2) is like place-mat doodling version 2.0 (your child can use it to create and then dress adorable little people). “Have your kids play with the sound off, so as not to annoy others, and without earphones, so they’re not cut off from the conversation,” says Carlin. Still, when the old-fashioned apps (or salads or entrées) are served, it’s time to put away the digital ones. And if you’re somewhere special (where peanut shells don’t litter the floor) or with company, no games allowed.