My son Julian was born into a world of screens nine years ago. Being the son of a “mediatwit” means that he was surrounded by screens, small and large. And yet, I’ve tried to moderate his usage the best that I can, limiting him to an hour of game time each weekday and one and a half hours on the weekend days.

And now he has become a screen connoisseur. Just as a wine lover might fawn over a chardonnay in Sonoma, Julian turns his nose up at Android games while soaking in every second he can with online gaming sites such as Friv.com. So I decided to interview him to get his take on all those screens, find out his favorite gaming haunts, get his take on online advertising, and figure out how he funds his Club Penguin habit.

Q&A

Have you played any games on the Android phone before?

Julian Glaser: Yes, one, but it wasn’t that good. It was Uno. It would quit on you, so it wasn’t that good.

Is it easier for you to use an Android phone or an iPhone?

Julian: It matters what you’re used to. I’m more used to iPhone because I’ve lived with it more… If you’re really used to it, and you know all the games to play — which ones are good and which ones are bad — and you know how to use it, then this Android phone is better. But if you’re used to touching things, tapping things, and going to the App Store and buying stuff, it’s really better for the iPhone.

Julian explains what he likes doing on the computer, an iMac:

What websites do you like playing games on?

Julian: This is one of my favorite sites, Armor Games. It has eight categories: action, adventure, arcade, puzzle and skill, strategy, shooting, sports and more. My favorite game to play here is “Insectinator: Zombie Mode.”

BubbleBox is another fun website you might find when you’re playing games.

Do these games cost money to play?

Julian: No, they’re all free.

But you have to watch advertising to play, right?

Julian: Sometimes when the game is loading, they show an ad.

[The page comes up and an animated ad plays on the bottom of the screen. There are also ads all over the sides of the page.]

Do you sometimes click on an ad by mistake?

Julian: Sometimes. This also says, “Click here to go directly to the game,” so I can click it and the ad will go away. Here’s one of my favorite games on Bubblebox, it’s called “Flight.”

One of my other favorite sites for games is Friv.com. The main page has a lot of pictures [icons] but you can see the names of games over here [when you mouse over the icon]. Here they will show you ads after you click on a game to play.

[Three ad windows pop up side by side.]

And you can’t make those ads go away?

Julian: No, these say “sponsored links.” You can’t go directly to a game’s site, like “www.friv.com/game” because you always have to go to the main site first.

So you can’t avoid ads that way?

Julian: No, you can’t.

Do these sites have games that are good for 9-year-olds, and some games that are for teenagers?

Julian: It depends. They have some games for everyone. This is another site I like, FastGames.com. This is a fun game I like, “Stealing a Diamond.” [Gives a demo of how to play it.]

The good thing about this game is that there’s no blood in it.

So none of the games you play have blood in them?

Julian: No… well, my favorite game, “Insectinator: Zombie Mode,” has some blood in it.

Do you pay for Club Penguin?

Julian: If you’re a member, which I am.

How much do you have to pay?

Julian: $5.96 per month. Best deal is $57 per year. I do chores for my mom to pay for it. [Pulls up the site.] I already have my log-in saved.

What do you like about it?

Julian: You’re a penguin, and you get to play a lot of games. It’s kind of like a chat website.

Julian explains why he likes the iPad 2:

How do you decide which screen to play games on, between the computer, the iPad, the Wii, the iPhone and Android phone?

Julian: I don’t really play games on the Android. I just think about… ‘what should I do?’ It’s usually the computer, or the Wii or iPad, I don’t use the iPhone or iPod Touch very much.

[Pulls out the Wii.]

Julian: As you can see, I have a Wii. There’s a power button, a reset button and an eject button. You put disks in there to play games. This is a controller, and this is a nunchuck. It’s not like a nunchuck that you hit people with. You turn it on and play a game with these controllers. There’s an A button and a B button.

What is it you like about playing games?

Julian: I don’t know, they’re just fun. You play one game and then you want to play another, and another.

Do you think you get addicted to games?

Julian: No.

Can you go a week without playing them?

Julian: I just went a week without playing games on my [vacation]. I did play a couple games, but… I could go five or six days without playing.

Were you upset you didn’t get to play on your trip?

Julian: No, it was fine. It was fun. That’s pretty much it. Bye!

Check out more stories in our special series, Kids & Media, on MediaShift.

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit or put him in your Circles on Google+.


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