Star Wars: Republic Commando is now available for PS4 & Switch

Republic Commando Cover Art
(Nintendo)

Finally finally finally finally finally finally Star Wars: Republic Commando is available for PS4 and Switch!

After years of staring longing at used copies of the game running for like $150 on Amazon, you can download an affordable version of the classic squad-based shooter to your barely-last gen console. According to science, this is undeniably very good.

If you’re unfamiliar with the game, it came out in 2005 and was early proof that Star Wars fans had an appetite for stories revolving around the now iconic Clone Troopers. With Bad Batch coming soon, it’s no surprise LucasFilm is revising their early forays into clone stories. This isn’t a remake, it’s the original game ported to new consoles, meaning the graphics are a little outdated but they still look great. It’s honestly kind of charming.

Beyond the lore and storytelling, the gameplay was unique and fulfilling as well. From the official game description:

You are the leader of an elite squad of Republic Commandos, your mission is to infiltrate, dominate, and ultimately, annihilate the enemy. Your squad will follow your orders and your lead, working together as a team – instinctively, intelligently, instantly. You are their leader. They are your weapon.

Oh, and if you’re a collector junkie, those original X-Box discs on Amazon I mentioned have suddenly dropped down to about ten bucks.

7 Myths About Losing Your Hair

Getty Images

We all remember the day we noticed something off about our hair. Was our shampoo making our hair seem…thinner, maybe? Did our foreheads get bigger? Wishful thinking, probably. Now that we’re older and wiser, we’ve come to just accept the reality that our hair isn’t as full as it was. But that doesn’t mean we’re not googling every single thing there is to know about hair loss. Hello, WebMD doom spiral.

In all of the hair loss prevention chatter online, there are a lot of rumors going around. With the help of Keeps, a subscription service that can help prevent hair loss (and even help hair grow back in certain cases), we’re breaking down the top seven myths about losing your hair. 

Keeps

1. Wearing hats can make you go bald faster.

Let’s start with the most known, widest spread myth about losing your hair: that wearing hats can cause it. Luckily for all baseball cap-wearing dads out there, this one is totally untrue. That is, unless your hat is extremely (and I mean extremely) tight and creates constant pulling and tension on your hair to cause traction alopecia — similar to what happens when buns and ponytails are too tight. Or if you’re the dad from Matilda. Otherwise, simply wearing a hat that fits well won’t affect your hair growth or loss.

And a little pointer from the pros at Keeps: wash your hats! “Unwashed hats can accumulate dirt, dust, and even bacteria, which in turn can leave their wearer with an irritated scalp.” Not necessarily a hair loss-related tip; just, you know, a sanitary one.

2. Your diet is unrelated to hair loss.

Your love of pizza may not be the reason for your loss of hair, but you want to throw in a few more healthy options too. Similar to how what you eat affects your skin, the same goes for your hair. Too much oil and salt, and a deficiency in things like iron, protein, or vitamin C can make it harder for new, healthier hair to grow. Hence, hair loss over time. 

Make a note that taking your daily iron pill is not a loophole, so you can continue eating what you want. (Vitamins being able to stop hair loss is another myth we won’t get into). We’re just saying it’s never a bad idea to incorporate more nutritious food.

According to Healthline, raw vegetables and fresh herbs can reduce the risk of alopecia or slow down its effects. “Healthy choices include foods like eggs, nuts, beans and peas, fish, low-fat dairy products, chicken, and turkey,” per the health and wellness outlet.

3. Frequent hair cuts will make your hair grow back thicker and faster.

If you’ve been going to the barber for the last couple of years because someone once told you that your hair will grow thicker…sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Unfortunately, this one is untrue. The rate at which you cut your hair or change your hairstyle doesn’t have much to do with the rate of hair growth, overall hair loss, and it’s definitely not a preventative action. Neither longer nor shorter hair has less of a chance of hair loss than the other. Both hair growth and hair loss are due to nutrition and genetics.

Keeps

4. Direct sunshine hurts your hair.

Sitting in the sun without any protection is harmful for many reasons, but hair loss is not one of them. It can, however, cause your hair to become dry and unhealthy looking according to Keeps advisor, Dr. Antonella Tosti

Although unrelated to hair loss, still make sure to throw on sunscreen in that thinning spot to prevent any damaging sunburns, condition your hair to prevent a dry scalp on a hot day, and (if needed) wear a hat for extra protection.

5. Hair loss is only a problem for men.

Women experience and suffer from hair loss too, but sometimes in different ways. You won’t see them with receding hairlines because they’re more likely to have thinning hair throughout their entire scalp. 

Although Keeps is designed for men specifically (sorry, ladies), we thought we should note that, yep, hair loss can affect all humans, not just dudes.

6. Bald men have too much testosterone.

Elevated levels of testosterone don’t affect your hair or lack of it. Male pattern baldness is based on how sensitive you are to a hormone called DHT. When DHT enters the bloodstream, it has the ability to attach to hair follicles in your scalp, causing them to shrink and be unable to support a healthy head of hair. Bald men do not have more (or less) testosterone.

7. Hair loss is permanent.

This is a big fat myth! First, it’s important to understand the difference between male pattern baldness and hair loss, because they aren’t the same thing. Male pattern baldness (a.k.a. going bald) is a genetic condition and hair loss (thinning, patchiness, etc.) can be due to an array of circumstances, and yes, sometimes genetics is included.

When you aren’t suffering from a genetic condition, and are either stressed, eating poorly, or simply getting older, hair loss does not have to be permanent. That’s where Keeps comes in.

Keeps is a hair loss remedy subscription plan that is affordable, doctor-recommended, f, and has proven results and FDA-approved treatments that are backed by scientific research and customers. 

When you sign up for their subscription, you’ll receive a three-month supply of products catered to your needs in each shipment. Whether you’re suffering from thinning hair, a receding hairline, or a thinning crown — you have your choice of which plan and topical treatment (or tablet!) you’d like. You’ll also be connected to a licensed physician for a recommendation of the best plan for you. That doctor access is free for the visit and unlimited for an entire year.

Keeps

The reviews for Keeps are also promising:

 “After 2 or 3 months I started noticing baby hairs growing back on my hair line and as well through the rest of the top of my head! Now after about 8 months I’ve regained almost all of my lost hair and plan on using this product for a long time!”

“I was suspicious at first, but decided to give keeps a try. I was shocked to find that my hair looks substantially more full than just a couple of months ago.”

“I have been using Keeps for about a year now. My hairline has stopped receding as quickly so I’m happy with that.” 

The results* from Keeps customers go to show that hair loss doesn’t have to be permanent. Sign up for your Keeps subscription with plans starting at just $10 a month.

We advise you check with your doctor or health care provider if you have concerns (such as if you’re on any medications or have underlying health conditions), before starting Keeps.

 

*Results may vary

Two Parents Create Ingenious Way To Keep Babies From Making Everything A Mess

SnoofyBee

Everyone knows that kids can be messy. But nothing can prepare you for the extent of sticky, stain-making mayhem you’ll encounter as a parent, let alone the number of creative ways in which a mess can be made. As a first-time dad, I’m constantly surprised (and in some respects, impressed) at the enormity of disasters that a newly-mobile one-year-old can cause. He’s like a tiny Tasmanian devil whirling through our home, leaving a trail of spilled snacks and household clutter in his wake.

Maybe you’ve experienced it, too: A routine diaper change can quickly turn into a human fountain or reach-and-smear situation if you’re not careful. Let ‘em toddle over to a purse, drawer, or cupboard, and you bet its contents will be sprawled all over the floor within a matter of seconds. When it comes to mealtime, just assume that they (and you) will need a bath if you bravely decide to hand them the bowl and leave them to their own devices.

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But the founders of SnoofyBee — parents of six (count ‘em!) — have been there, done that. That’s why they created a line of genius products to help prevent common messes that babies and toddlers love to make. Even better, this travel-friendly gear is designed to be portable so you can keep messes at bay when it really counts: When you’re out in public with a limited amount of battle gear and everyone is judging you. (Kidding … sort of.)

SnoofyBee

On that note, let me introduce you to your survival kit. Starting with cleaner diaper changes, there’s the Clean Hands Changing Pad, which puts a shield around your baby so curious hands can’t reach down into their … well, you know. It’s also waterproof, easy to wipe clean, and folds so it’s nice and compact for stashing in a diaper bag. The shield is big enough to accommodate kiddos up to 3 years old, and it’s removable, too. 

Then, there is the super-versatile Chewy Buckle, which helps lighten your load by offering a zillion uses in one handheld ring. Use it to secure a muslin swaddle for a stroller canopy or nursing cover, make a cozy hooded towel after a day at the beach, make a bib with a spit cloth or extra swaddle — the uses are endless. Of course, it can also be used as a soothing teether to keep Baby happy. While we can’t promise that your kid won’t empty out your entire diaper bag should they get hold of it, we can assure you that you’ll pack less (and therefore, have less to re-pack), thanks to this handy little gadget. 

SnoofyBee

Then, there’s mealtime, which elicits mixed emotions from any parent with little kids. On the one hand, it’s an opportunity to enjoy a warm meal with the family. On the other, you’ll spend that meal on the edge of your seat, trying to stop your baby from picking up their full bowl and splattering it anywhere within a 5-foot radius. Enter the Suction-Go-Bowl, a clever receptacle that suctions securely to the table — it even comes with a cover for storing snacks while you’re on the go. So when your tot goes to pick it up, intending to wave it maniacally in the air as food sloshes over either side, they’ll find it firmly stuck in place (haha, suckers!). 

I love that this brand provides simple but effective solutions to the problems that every parent has, because — let’s face it — they’ve been there, too. So next time you find yourself elbows deep in who-knows-what, just remember: It could’ve been avoided with SnoofyBee.

“Keep Moving Forward” – Resources For Sharing MLK’s Legacy With Your Kids

Civil rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. relaxes at home with his wife Coretta and first child Yolanda in May 1956 in Montgomery, Alabama
(Getty / Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer)

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

Every third Monday of January we recognize the impact and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We honor the man and his work by taking “a day on, not a day off” to learn more about the struggle for equality, and find opportunities to better our own communities in his spirit.

For a lot of kids growing up now, the history Dr. King lived and changed can feel like another era altogether, rather than a mere 53 years. According to Tanara Burke, the former associate director of the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma, AL, and the director of Just BE, Inc., “Dr. King is almost a fictional historical character to many young people…They don’t get that they are (in many cases) one generation away from him and that they are directly affected by some of the gains he and others like him fought to achieve.”

To help kids fully understand Dr. King and the world he inhabited, Scholastic has recommended a series of books for all age-groups which can help your family keep history relevant.

If You Grew Up In The Time Of Martin Luthor King

cover for the children's book If You Lived in The Time of MLK
(Exodus Books)

This series of books for grades 2-4 is a fun way to introduce children to different eras. With an engaging question-and-answer format, and full-color art children can learn what it was like to participate in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, stage a sit-in at a lunch counter, join the famous March on Washington, and more.

Martin Rising: Requiem For A King

Cover for Martin Rising: Requiem For A King
(Scholastic / Brian Pinkney)

The award-winning Pinkney duo celebrates Dr. King’s nonviolent struggle for civil rights –– as he transforms America through the spirit of love. This poetic and beautifully illustrated book for grades 4-7 conveys the final months of Martin Luther King’s life –– and of his assassination –– through metaphor, spirituality, and multilayers of meaning.

Chasing King’s Killer: The Hunt for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Assassin

Cover for "Chasing King's Killer"
(Scholastic)

Learning about the tragedy and horror of Dr. King’s death can be as important as learning about the ideals he devoted his life to.  For older kids in grades 7-12,  bestselling author James L. Swanson gives an astonishing account of one of the saddest moments in American History. It can be tricky for parents to navigate questions about Dr. King’s murder, but it is necessary for all of us to remember how his quest for peace ended in a shocking moment of violence. Swanson’s book can help contextualize the event to teach kids how far we’ve come, and how far we have yet to go.

Along with educating our kids about history, today is an opportunity to bond with our kids on the only federal holiday recognized as a day of service. Of course, during a pandemic, serving the community can be difficult, but there are ways you can participate from home. Even attending a virtual event or talk can be the start of meaningful conversations with your kids to inspire them. The National Museum of African American History & Culture has moved their annual celebration “A People’s Holiday” online, and The King Center, Coretta Scott King’s nonprofit memorial will also be holding online events today.

For a more engaging activity, consider supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities. HBCUs arose in the 60s as a response to education inequality, and award a large portion of bachelor’s degrees held by Black students. Advocating for these spaces honors the work done by Dr. King and encourages future heroes to find their footing. The best way to support them is by calling a local representative and advocating for continued federal spending.

However you choose to remember Dr. King with your family today and throughout 2021, you are choosing to honor history, courage, and an unrelenting pursuit of justice.

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

-Dr. Martin Luthor King Jr.

5 Dad-Approved Vacation Activities You Can Do At Home

Vacations, for the time being, are… different. We’ve had to change our plans for family gatherings, vacations and trips to our favorite destinations. If you had to scrap your family Florida road trip or getaway, and haven’t yet rescheduled, don’t worry: staying home doesn’t have to mean sticking to the status quo. 

To help you bring a little bit of that Florida spirit to a stay-cation, here are five Dad-Approved Florida activities you can do without leaving your house.

Miniature Golf 

What you need: one putter, wiffle golf balls, an understanding spouse.

It doesn’t matter what vacation spot you hit with your family, there’s almost definitely a mini-golf course nearby. To recreate this essential vacation experience, use paper towel tubes, cereal boxes, etc. to create – right in your home – anything from a basic putting green to an elaborate 9-hole escape throughout your home.  Bonus points if you spruce it up with some drawings and artwork beforehand.

Note: Definitely get the wiffle golf balls if your kids are…let’s say “enthusiastic.” 

DIY Disney 

What you need: a TV, some big boxes or a laundry hamper, and some Disney memories

Doing Disney at home is doable. In fact, there’s already a blueprint on how to do it. 

You can easily find first-person videos of your favorite Disney attractions online. And, with a cardboard box, a little muscle, and maybe some well-timed water splashes, you can recreate the magic for your toddler – without the height restrictions. 

Ocean Soak 

What you need: a kiddie pool, sunglasses, a phone with a white noise app

This one’s maybe more for you and Mom. Soaking in the ocean has a healing property, spiritually if not actually medicinally, and you can come *this close* to replicating it at home. Fill up a kiddie pool, throw some shades on, crank up the volume of your Ocean Waves #7 on your favorite white noise app, and  let your troubles float away.  Want it even more authentic? All it takes is a little yacht rock and some cold beverages to make any backyard a beach party. 

DIY Daytona International Speedway 

What you need: those boxes/laundry baskets from #2, lower body strength, and a checkered flag…. or, like, a flannel shirt, even.

The thrill of being at Daytona is hard to match, but what if instead of watching a race, you could get into the action? Bring back the giant boxes or laundry baskets from DIY Disney, and add some construction paper coloring/graphics to spruce up your race cars. 

Go the extra mile by moving some furniture to the center of the room to create a true “speedway.”

Bathtub Shark Fishing 

What you need: magnets, towels, string, and a broom or other rod. 

You might not be able to hit the ocean for quality bonding time, but that doesn’t mean your kid can’t bring in a great  catch.

Use your arts and crafts skills to create a variety of toothy terrors, affixed with some magnets you can find at any hardware store. Place more magnets on the end of the string attached to your makeshift rod. After you cast your line comes the best part of teaching your kid to fish: “resting” your eyes and saying “it’s all about patience.”

The past year has changed the way we relax, but it’s not permanent. But what doesn’t change is the ability to make fun memories with your kids. You don’t have to go to Florida to be in that sunshine state of mind. Find ways to bring your staycation to the next level at VISITFLORIDA.com.

This post was sponsored by:
VISIT FLORIDA

Peter Dinklage Is Becoming a Superhero in ‘The Toxic Avenger’ Reboot

Peter Dinklage Toxic Avenger
(Getty/Jeff Kravitz/Troma)

‘Game of Thrones’ star Peter Dinklage is slated to star in the ‘The Toxic Avenger’ reboot that was recently announced. It won’t be Dinklage’s first appearance in a comic book movie, naturally, as he did guest star in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ as Eitri, the Dwarf King who helps Thor make his battle axe. This time, though, Dinklage will be the star.

Dinklage is a gem of an actor. He was truly terrific in Game of Thrones as Tyrion Lannister (no matter how you feel about that final season), and also in just about everything else he’s ever done (even his Entourage cameo!). While we’d love to see Dinklage do even more movies with Game of Thrones star Jason Momoa (they do have one coming!), this sounds like a great role for him.

For those unaware, ‘The Toxic Avenger’ is neither a Marvel nor a DC superhero, which makes it unique just for that. The 1984 movie was closer to a B-movie than high art and that was sort of the point. It was a superhero parody, and went heavy on the common tropes, while also integrating some themes about environmental issues.

The backstory is pretty basic; a physically unimpressive janitor falls into toxic waste and emerges disfigured but with super strength. Then there’s the requisite crime-fighting, big boss battle, etc etc. While not Earth-shattering at the time of its release, the Toxic Avenger did go on to become something of a cult classic, with several sequels.

Some have described Toxic Avenger as a cross between Deadpool and Spider-Man and while that sounds like wishful thinking, Dinklage is an outstanding choice for a role like that.

It’s not the Avengers we know and love, but all it needs to be a hit is Dinklage and Avenger.

These Health Kits Help You Get Your Groove Back

vault
Vault

Remember when we used to wake up and get out of bed and our body didn’t mysteriously hurt for no reason whatsoever? Or when we could stay energized all day long with just one cup of coffee? (#tbt) We could go on, but you get it, and probably don’t need to relive it. As we get older, life gets…more rickety. But luckily, there’s a solution. Multiple solutions, actually, based on your concerns.

Vault Health offers health kits that can help with energy, focus, fitness, and libido. The Brain, Body, and Sex Kits provide personalized health and wellbeing care that actually works.

The Brain Kit

If you find yourself losing focus, easily getting anxious, or forgetting simple tasks or details, the Brain Kit is designed to combat all of the above problems. It includes a vital peptide called semax (which has been shown to fight cognitive decline, dementia, and sometimes even brain injury), which increases production of BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor), and that amplifies brain cell production and creates a barrier to keep brain cells from dying. It also includes other natural supplements such as Ashwagandha and Schisandra will help keep stress and anxiety at bay. The Brain Kit can help with overall focus, mood, and creativity. 

Get your work done, hang with the kids, and still have brain power left at the end of the day to actually stay up (!!!) and do date night with your partner, or even get through a few chapters. Like ye olde days.

The Body Kit

It used to be that dragging our limbs to the gym was the problem. Now it’s finding the energy and stamina to just get out of our office chair. With the stresses of 2020, you’re not the only one who’s deprioritized gym time, and maybe you’re really starting to feel that difference. The Vault’s Body Kit will help by providing you with science-backed growth hormone-releasing peptides CJC-1295 and Ipamorelin at-home injections. The process is super safe, physician-approved, and effective. You’ll get the energy you used to have to go for a run, do weight training, and this kit will also help increase muscle mass and lose body fat.

The Sex Kit

If you’re overhearing, “It’s okay, it happens,” we have a solution for you: The Vault’s Sex Kit. The Vault’s medical team created this kit to solve super common issues in the bedroom; the two treatments include oral supplements containing tadalafil and apomorphine. Tadalafil increases blood flow, and apomorphine helps the brain stimulation of erections. The second treatment is a dose of oxytocin, which is a bonding hormone. Basically, it’ll get you in the mood and ready to perform and help you stay in the mood. Great success!

**If you have any of the following conditions, we don’t recommend you try these supplements and treatments, or see your healthcare provider before starting**

-Diabetes

-Active cancer (i.e. cancer that has not been cured yet or is in remission)

-Congestive heart failure or poorly controlled hypertension

Some side effects include:

-With CJC-1295, some people can experience joint pains, increased intensity of dreams, numbness or tingling in extremities.

-Ipamorelin can cause headaches, nausea or aches and pains in the joints.

-Ibutamoren can cause an increase in appetite.

Scientific studies have shown the efficacy of these medications for the indications we recommend them for, however every individual is different and may not be an appropriate candidate for every treatment. That is why at Vault, we have you speak with a men’s health specialist before confirming your order.

After receiving your kit, Vault clinicians are available to you with questions or concerns. If you feel the medication isn’t working, your Vault provider may recommend you try them multiple times or adjust your dose or try taking them at different times.

Check out more at Vault Health.

Why Dads Are Awesome at Playing with Dolls

©2020 Mattel
Post written in partnership with Barbie®

Not all dads grew up playing with dolls, but it’s never too late to start an activity that offers them a chance to bond with their little ones in fun, creative ways that can aid their child’s development. According to an October 2020 study from Cardiff University in collaboration with Barbie®, doll play activates brain regions that allow children to develop social processing skills like empathy. These findings show us that doll play can enable children to rehearse, use and perform these skills, which are not only going to benefit them now, but also helps to set them up for future success. Every parent wants their child to grow up to be the best version of themselves they can be, and it all starts with empathy. By playing with Barbie dolls with their kids, dads can help foster this development in their children and have a whole lot of fun doing it. Let’s take a look at some of the ways dads are amazing at playing with dolls.

You’re Already an Expert

Many dads spent their childhoods involved in the same kind of imaginative play as doll play, just with soldiers, action figures, or miniature cars. Playing dolls with kids uses the same creativity and imagination, and you can even incorporate lasers and dinosaurs.

Fresh Perspectives

You’re never too old to try something new. Playing with your child and Barbie dolls offers dads a fun way to bond and create fun adventures! Go on an intergalactic space journey with mermaid Barbie on her magical DreamCamper™, while making friends with space aliens who only eat marshmallows! Let your imagination run wild, and sit back and observe where your child’s mind goes. This experience gives you a glimpse into how they think, and you’ll create goofy memories that will last a lifetime as your child’s brain enjoys the benefits of doll play.

Teachable Moments

Playtime can be a great way for dads to instill some life lessons in your little one. Ask your child if you can join in and let them take the lead. As you role-play with your assigned Barbie doll, infuse some parenting into doll play. For example, if you and your child are pretending you’re at the beach and it suddenly starts to rain, suggest a fun way to make the most of it! Since doll play can help foster empathy, using dolls to overcome adversity and setbacks can become a valuable tool in your child’s development.

All the Feels

Playing with Barbie dolls can be a great way for kids to express their feelings which is pivotal to developing empathy. Sometimes, it may be challenging for children to verbalize how they’re feeling. However, through doll play, they’re able to act it out and work through the different emotions, allowing you to assist them in the process. By playing together, dads and kids can explore their feelings through role-playing exercises where everyone feels safe and secure.

Exploring New Horizons

Parents desire for their children to grow up in a world built on kindness and compassion, and Barbie dolls can be a great tool to start fostering that from an early age. According to Dr. Sarah Gerson, the neuroscientist who led the study at Cardiff University, “Dolls like Barbie offer a wide expanse of diverse characters and add-ons like professional roles and uniforms (a judge, a football player, or a doll in a wheelchair), that can help children identify with and imagine an infinite range of scenarios.” Introducing new dolls to playtime with different skin tones, genders, and abilities, exposes children at an early age to diversity, and teaches them about inclusivity in an age-appropriate way they can understand. Since doll play activates the brain region related to empathy even when kids play by themselves, dads can help children develop better versions of themselves even when they’re not actively playing together.

Even though some dads might now have grown up playing with dolls, this research shows that it’s never been a better time to start and challenge yourself to something new. By playing with Barbie dolls, you can help your kid develop into an empathetic, kind leader as they grow older.

You can check out more findings from the Cardiff University and Barbie study here.

Study was commissioned by Barbie (2020). Study was conducted with 42 children (20 boys and 22 girls) ages 4-8 years old with full data captured from 33 children.

This post was sponsored by:
Barbie®

Why Doll Play is Better Than Screen Time for Kid Development and Parent Sanity

©2020 Mattel
Post written in partnership with Barbie®

Let’s face it: It’s really hard to limit our kids’ screen time these days. From remote learning, apps, and an endless stream of new TV shows, kids are spending more time than ever in front of screens. While some screen use is certainly necessary from an educational and entertainment standpoint, taking play offline, specifically playing with dolls, like Barbie®, has been shown to have scientific benefits for childhood development that you can’t get from looking at a screen. Barbie and neuroscientists from Cardiff University have collaborated on a new study that shows how doll play activates brain regions that allow kids to develop social skills like empathy, indicating that doll play enables children to rehearse, use and perform these skills. Additionally, the findings also show that doll play allows children to develop empathy and social processing skills more so than solo tablet play, even when playing by themselves. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why doll play beats the screen when it comes to your child’s development. Oh, and you know, keeping your own sanity because that’s important too.

Doll Play Helps Develop Conflict Resolution Skills

You may have noticed that with everyone home all the time, things can sometimes get a bit testy. Shows and games can provide a welcome distraction, but in most cases, they don’t teach us much. However, by playing with dolls like Barbie, kids can develop empathy that serves them not only in these uncertain times, but also helps to set them up for future success as they grow and develop in life. For example, if your child isn’t getting along with one of their siblings, they can use dolls to role-play and figure out a fun, playful way to work out their problems. So when Mom and Dad don’t have the bandwidth to settle another dispute, see if Barbie dolls can help your kids come to an agreement through the power of play!

Dolls Help Kids Feel Connected

Recess and playdates have certainly taken on a different form in 2020 and for kids that can be a major bummer. When your kid is feeling isolated, the whole family feels the strain. Barbie dolls can be a great tool to replicate real-world play patterns when the option of doing it in-person isn’t always on the table. According to Dr. Sarah Gerson, the neuroscientist who led the study at Cardiff University, “This play allows them to think about how their friend could be feeling (perhaps sad they can’t see each other) and how they might react (comforting that friend).” In the age of social distancing, Barbie dolls can help kids develop key skills they could be missing out on.

Dolls Can Give Parents A Welcome Break Too!

Who said kids should have all the fun? Parenting is a constant juggling act these days, and sometimes you just need to feel like a kid again. When you’re sick of virtual meetings and tired of having your work face on all day, take a play break with your little one. Get down on the floor, get creative, and let your imagination run free! Doll play is an especially fun way for parents and kids to bond because so much of it is created by the two of you in the moment: You and your kid can steer the session towards the interests and inside jokes that are most important to the two of you.

Did Somebody Say No Buttons and Passwords?

Even with parental controls, there’s no surefire way to make sure your screens are totally kid-proof. Doll play, however, is totally offline and carries no risk of your child ordering 100 packs of crayons with the click of a button. Your credit score will certainly be happy. Seriously though, by playing with Barbie dolls, young ones can unplug and let their inner kid run wild as they activate the regions in their developing minds that develop empathy.

Dolls Give Us A Look Inside Our Child’s Mind

The brain region related to empathy development is even activated when kids play with dolls by themselves, so encourage kids to play solo too! When kids play by themselves, they often voice different characters in role-play scenarios. We’re not saying you should spy on your kids, but listen in a little bit and see what kinds of things they like (or dislike) when their mind roams free with Barbie dolls. Staring at a screen is a passive activity, but doll play is the opposite. It can give parents valuable insight into the minds of their kids.

Whether it’s working on more serious matters like conflict resolution or just taking a play break yourself, doll play carries numerous benefits that you can’t get when the screen is shining bright in your kid’s face. By playing with Barbie dolls, kids can become even more empathetic than previous generations and that might just be the biggest benefit of all.

You can check out more findings from the Cardiff University and Barbie study here.

Study was commissioned by Barbie (2020). Study was conducted with 42 children (20 boys and 22 girls) ages 4-8 years old with full data captured from 33 children.

This post was sponsored by:
Barbie®

Mario Kart Event Recap: The Dad Gaming League, Sponsored By Planters

(The Dad Gaming League)

Hey gamers. We did it. AGAIN. We’ve completed the second event for The Dad Gaming League, which we couldn’t have done without our sponsor, Planters.

We had 200+ people sign up for the Mario Kart event, which is outstanding!

Thank you to all the racers who showed up to the track, and shout out to our streaming hosts, Joel and Bayesic.

On September 18, we ran private tournaments for three categories. Battle Mode (6 battles), 150cc (12 races at high speed), and 200cc (12 races at ludicrous speed), streamed on The Dad Gaming’s Twitch channel.

We invited the top 12 of both the 150cc and 200cc categories back for the Grand Finals and the results were decisive, to say the least! Your 2020 The Dad Gaming League champion Mario Kart-er is: Mc (Brad McCaffrey).

We gave away prizes for the top three racers in ALL categories. As always, in the spirit of casual dad gaming, we also gave away a handful of random prizes, prizes to the first and last place racer in the first race with Joel (in both 150cc and 200cc), and possibly even some other surprise winners!

Prize winners are getting an epic loot box, with an official The Dad Gaming esports jersey and delicious Planters snacks. (First and second place in the Grand Finals also get $100!)

Congratulations to the champ, Mc, and all of the prize winners!

This was so much fun, everyone brought their A game and we saw some fantastic racers out there on the track.

Our next event is Super Smash Bros on October 9. Sign up now at thedadgaming.com. Then we have Rocket League (November, go here for a great Rocket League primer!), Apex Legends (December), and more!

If you have suggestions or ideas on how we can continue making these events better, we’d love to hear them. Email [email protected]. The Dad Gaming community is the best.

Squad up. Join The Dad Gaming FB group and Discord. Follow The Dad Gaming on Twitch, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

Mario Kart Results

Battles:

12. 1genxer

11. TootLaRoo

10. M.A.T.

9. Solace

8. TJ

7. Matthew

6. Bayesic

5. MickyWinz

4. ElRey

3. SharkBait

2. Kaokoo333

1. Mc

 

150cc:

12. MickyWinz

11. Snock73

10. Kristie517

9. TootsLaRoo

8. Hunna

7. Josh

6. CampBean

5. SharkBait

4. GmrDad

3. Bayesic

2. MrTeets

1. Mc

 

200cc:

12. TootsLaRoo

11. Hunna

10. ElRey

9. Trey

8. thedadJOEL

7. Rhino

6. Kristie517

5. GmrDad

4. Bayesic

3. SharkBait

2. Mc

1. MickyWinz

 

Grand Finals – 150cc:

12. Ruben

11. CampBean

10. Snock73

9. GmrDad

8. MrTeets

7. TootsLaRoo

6. SharkBait

5. Hunna

4. Kristie517

3. MickyWinz

2. Bayesic

1. Mc

 

Grand Finals – 200cc:

12. Ryan’s Dad

11. GmrDad

10. ElRey

9. thedadJOEL

8. Hunna

7. TootsLaRoo

6. Kristie517

5. Rhino

4. MickyWinz

3. SharkBait

2. Bayesic

1. Mc

This post was sponsored by:
Planters

You Can Pre-Order This 1,000-Piece LEGO Version of Baby Yoda

Baby Yoda LEGO
(LEGO Group)

We are a little more than a month away from The Mandalorian returning gracing our beloved screens. But if that’s not enough for you, LEGO Star Wars has announced a special set featuring the true star of the show. That’s right, you’ll be able to build your own LEGO Baby Yoda and it gets released on October 21st (a week prior to the season 2 debut.)

Season 2 of the blockbuster hit for Disney already looks to be pretty badass, and we know much of the season will revolve around Din finding The Child’s home planet. Yes, this is the part where we say he’s not really a baby version of Yoda, but he is “The Child,” a young version of whatever the heck Yoda’s species is. Some people can be really annoying about this distinction, but come on, everyone knows what you’re talking about when you say Baby Yoda.

And just look at how adorable this LEGO creation is.

The 1,073 piece set known as the LEGO Star Wars “The Child” construction set is available for pre-order now. Like the show about our favorite bounty hunter, the playset won’t be released until October 30th. The Baby Yoda set has a posable head, movable ears, and an adjustable mouth, which means it is a must-have for all Mando fans.

A design manager at LEGO Star Wars said they aimed to “capture the charm, and above all, the cuteness of the character.” Nailed it. The set also comes with a miniature toy version of The Child.

You can pre-order it now, right here.

Awkward Pics Make Better Memories: A Defense Of School Picture Day

A Series of Pictures of the writer, from early school pics to today.

I am going to share with you something that is deeply, profoundly personal. It’s something I had buried years ago in my mind. I wanted to physically bury all copies of this relic at one point, but my mom wouldn’t allow it. Long story short: I’d forgotten about this, but in the days of social media, none of us are safe from our parents finding dark artifacts from the past and sharing them with the world. Brace yourself. Here is what I saw when I checked my notifications this morning.

Awkward School Pic of kid with glasses in front of a digital star field

….Oh….oh Jared…What happened here? Well, the year was 199…1(?), and it was school picture day. Now, there’s plenty to dissect here – horizontal stripes, tinted glasses, jeans that are let’s say, “relaxed fit.” But those glamour stars in the background are truly the piece de resistance. 

Why would I vouch for this background that seems to be missing a unicorn or something? The early 90s was a magical time when dinosaurs came to life on the movie screen and your school pictures could look like they were taken in front of a space-laser battle. So what I expected when I checked the “starfield” box as my preferred background while standing in line in the Bartow Elementary gymnasium was something closer to: 

Awkward School Pic With Background Replaced By Laser Grid

Aw heck yeah. Once digital editing became commonplace, most kids my age ended up with pictures where the background was replaced with what I would today describe as a screen-saver sorta deal. But back then it was freakin’ awesome.

But school picture day, like life itself, doesn’t always go as planned. I remember being so embarrassed weeks later when the prints came back. What was I going to do with these freaking glamour shots? Nevermind that there wasn’t much for an eight-year-old to do with pictures, regardless of how they came out. 

The thing is, that’s really part of the value of the whole School Picture Day tradition. In the last decade or so, we’ve become a society more obsessed with pictures than ever before, with social media making amateur photo-journalists of us all. It’s tempting to think you don’t need a “school picture” in a year where the concept of “school” is loose at best. But take it from a nerd who aimed for the laser grid and landed among the stars, having a set memento of a certain time just hits different than a regular ole’ insta post. (Even if you’re not crazy about the results at first). 

This is true for parents as much as it is kids. Take the best picture of me ever taken, for example:

A Kid Making A Goofy Grin For School Picture Day

That was my peak, it’s been downhill since. I would like to congratulate myself on somehow throwing some side-eye while still staring directly ahead. Here’s the thing, though.  My mother hated this picture. She didn’t tell me that at the time; I was a child, that would have been damaging. But growing up means if you have cool parents you get to become friends with them, and then you get to catch up on all the gossip about you from when you were a kid.

Now, I don’t know why Mom didn’t like this picture…maybe it’s ‘cause I look like a huge dork, but that’s something she always appreciated about me. Regardless, she wanted to have them retaken. Fortunately, Nana took her by the hand and said “Jan. Don’t you dare change that. One day it will be your favorite picture of him.” And Nana was right. To this day this is the pic that Mom keeps on her desk at work, and it’s her absolute favorite. My guess is that this pic is documentation of when I started becoming the guy I am today. It’s the first time my “okay, whatever” attitude really came shining through.

So don’t just take a school picture, celebrate how awkward, weird, unexpected they are. In a time when we spend twenty minutes capturing moments “for the ‘gram” it will mean more to have a memento of our kids and families as they are, not how we curate them on social. 

To celebrate National School Picture Day, Lifetouch will be creating America’s Yearbook -a digital compilation of user-submitted pictures capturing the spirit of picture day. For 84 years, Lifetouch has been shaping yearbooks featuring all the things that make school pictures so memorable, from fads to goofy expressions. You can submit your favorite throwback school pictures for a chance to be featured in America’s Yearbook on Oct. 5. Then a few select winners will receive free school pictures, yearbooks, and school supplies for the school of their choice! It’s a great way to celebrate where we’ve been, and all the goofy unexpected places we’ve yet to go.

Submit your favorite school pictures here.

 

This post was sponsored by:
Lifetouch

Playing With Dolls: It’s What Dads Do

This article is sponsored by Bitty Baby™ from American Girl

I never really planned to be a dad who played with dolls. I wasn’t against it or anything, but I grew up in locker rooms around lots of macho bull stuff, and I guess I just never saw myself in that role. Then we had a baby girl.

We worked hard to avoid gender stereotypes as she was growing up; to let her follow her own interests, but this kid just absolutely loved playing with dolls. And I loved being with her — so I quickly found myself in tiaras and tutus at tea parties, chilling with a squad of dolls consisting of floppy bunny rabbits to those American Girl Bitty Babies: Lilly, Rose, Lilly Rose, and Lillyrose. (It was much less confusing once you got to know them.)

Fast forward to today, and my daughter is a 14-year-old high schooler, who also happens to be my best bud in the world. I don’t want to jinx it and bring on our first “I HATE YOU!” moment, but I’m really proud of the bond we share — and I chalk a lot of that up to our days of playing with dolls together.

My wife was working crazy hours in those days, so a lot of the time it was just my daughter and me for hours. During make-believe, she usually ran the show in the role of a teacher, or a mom, or a boss, while the Lillies or Roses and I listened attentively…or caused the occasional ruckus.

We had so much fun, and so many laughs, and while I didn’t fully realize it at the time, I’ve come to realize we were also modeling behaviors and role-playing social interactions that are a foundation of who my daughter is. The way she learned to treat those Bitty Babies is the way she still treats people, and I was right there, in on all the action during this really formative time.

From the way she loved, nurtured, and empathized with the dolls to the way she reprimanded them (which was hysterically lifted word-for-word from my wife and I’s playbook). It was like I had a front-row seat to how she internalized and externalized the world around her. If I was acting-up and picking on one of the “girls,” she would step in and explain that “we don’t use our hands, we use our words.” Or if I started whining because she kept calling on the Bitty Baby in class instead of me, we could talk about patience and taking turns. Her imagination allowed every interaction to be an opportunity to help model different behaviors, and for her to test the waters of social interactions in a low-risk environment. 

Now, to be clear, I wasn’t thinking so deeply about it at the time. It was just fun to be silly with my daughter, and see her captivated by the world she was creating. Now with college on the horizon and I’m getting all nostalgic, I think about how our time together back then did so much to shape our relationship. We laughed like crazy, there were some blowups and tears…and sometimes she got upset, too.  But we learned to navigate emotions, create a sense of trust, and we built so many memories. 

We’ve basically never stopped playing the way we did back then. Maybe, a Bitty Baby isn’t involved anymore, but there’s still that space for us to share our thoughts and feelings. We talk about everything together (sometimes more than I’m ready to handle), and we have the kind of openness in our relationship that I always wanted to have with my kid. People tell you you can’t be a friend and a parent, but I disagree. I’m proud to be both — and really glad I decided to start playing with dolls.

Bitty Baby™ from American Girl from American Girl helps dads and daughters discover a world of make-believe together while learning the importance of love and kindness.