While on our flight home from North Carolina, I noticed Zoe (8) getting antsy next to me. I quietly got out Sam's DS for me and handed hers to her, and she perked up in her seat, smiling.
Nintendo DS To The Rescue
We started to PictoChat.
(Backtracking) Nintendo DSs are handheld gaming systems (I am sure you've seen some kid where they don't want to be-glued to one). You can use a game cartridge to play cool games that kick Pong's ass (I used to move a white bar up and down (in the snow) to hit a ball across a black screen (uphill), and you get to battle 50 different Pokemon in 1,000s of ways and it's all stored on a teeny chip. Oh, and we only had cartoons on Saturday mornings!!!)...
or you can PictoChat. Like an IM or text, it's instant chatting. But you can also DRAW! In black or rainbow colors, bold or tiny, or type and move icons/letters all over the screen to make, say, a sculpture out of 50 letter 'K's. Or we'll start a picture then each person adds to the drawing to get it looking different (I'll draw a butt, then Zoe makes it poopy (this IS my family))... or you can just chat.
We enter a 'chat room'. It's empty except for us.
'Hannah' has joined you
'Heat Fleet' has joined you
NINE kids in all ping on to our chat room.
I ask, "are you all on this plane?"
'yes' says one
a picture of a cupcake is sent
'we were on vacation' says another
"us too" says Zoe
Then I type- "everyone stand up!"...
Suddenly (and randomly to any other person) 9 kids all stand up and are waving, jumping and giggling throughout the plane to each other.
I gave Sam his DS so he could take part, and I watched as the kids chatted, drew & shared silly things the entire flight home.
Critics can say that these gaming systems make people more anti-social, but hey, when we got off the plane, Zoe met up with the 7 year old girl 'Heat Fleet', and when they saw each other, they hugged and giggled. (Too bad they live so far away...)