Do your kids get along? Like, play together without pulling out clumps of each other’s hair, or sharing toys like it’s their business?? Yes??? Well, please get yourself to the nearest airport where you will have a plane ticket waiting for you to come visit me and tell me your secrets. If your kids are like mine and aren’t always besties from time to time, then I want to hold your hand and tell you it’ll be okay because someone is on a plane this very instant, on their way to help us.
It’s because of this (not abnormal) sibling dynamic that I sweat a little when I think about the idea of my kids playing a multi-player app on the family iPad. Inevitably game time ends after 30 seconds of arguing and tugging (them) and crying (me). Then we have to go back to taking turns, which is alternately known around here as the Plan that No One In the House Likes.
That’s not to say that I don’t WANT to like multi-players. As a mom I’m personally drawn to the concept of multi-player apps because it takes the emphasis off the iPad as being a single-player device (which, to me, can be isolating for kids who already difficulty with age-appropriate social interaction). Teaching kids to take turns is such a crucial skill to learn on the timeline of social milestones, and sometimes it’s hard to teach such an abstract concept without having real and tangible tools (ie the iPad).
When a promo code for Mash Monsters fell into my lap via a lovely email from the developers, I almost noped out right then and there. I even questioned the devs’ sanity for even creating a imagination-driven multi-player; obviously they are a part of the illustrious group of parents who have children who get along. Mash Monsters sounded incredibly cute on paper, but I had some serious doubt as I was waiting for the game to download.
I play all apps before I let my kids near ’em, it’s just my way of ensuring the app is kosher for my 5- and 7-year-old. In Mash Monsters players take turns drawing the three different parts of a monster. Little Jenny draws the head and passes it over to Little Jonny, who draws the body and then passes it on for the drawing of the feet. There are no time limits, point systems, or complicated directions – which makes this perfect for a mixed-age audience with different reading skills.
Reluctantly I handed the iPad over to the kids, and yes, my ear plugs were in and my Pinot Grigio was at the ready. I slowly backed out of the room and braced myself for impact. I counted down 3…2…1… and NOTHING. I dumped out my Pinot because I thought for sure someone had slipped me a Red Pill and I was in some sort of Matrix where siblings actually played on an iPad. Together. (Mr. Anderson, that you??)
I rubbed my eyes, literally like a cartoon character, and observed them play nice for 5 minutes before I sighed with relief and poured another glass of wine. They played like that for almost 20 minutes (I timed it because I really couldn’t believe it) before dinner was ready and the iPad was put away for the evening. Tell you what: Mash Monsters is only $0.99 but the fact that it helped my kids to play nicely together is priceless. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to cancel a few plane tickets…