Recent Studies Confirm: Video Games are not That Bad After All

Video games have been blamed for everything from childhood obesity to the increase in violent tendencies among young people.

And, while they can have negative impacts, they also have positive ones, especially in the area of mental and physical health benefits, which include:

1. Mental Alertness

Playing video games actually keeps you mentally alert, which can help ward off Alzheimer’s or dementia. Older adults may enjoy puzzle and math games.

2. Stress Relief

Video games are a good way to relieve stress, as long as you don’t get stressed trying to beat your highest score or achieve the next level.

3. Improved Hand-Eye Coordination

Playing video games improves hand-eye coordination. For younger people, this is something which can prove useful in their careers, especially if they pursue those which require delicate precision. For older adults, maintaining hand-eye coordination may help them remain independent longer.

4. Keeps Reflexes Sharp

Playing a video game that requires quick responses can help keep reflexes sharp. Older people may find this very helpful.

5. Relief from Boredom

Video game playing can relieve boredom, which is sometimes the cause behind some harmful habits. It keeps the fingers busy so that they can’t hold a cigarette or snack, and keeps the brain engaged so that the urge or craving can be more easily ignored.

6. Personal Reward

Playing a video game can be used as a personal reward. Adults can use this as an incentive to finish a task that they find particularly tedious. Younger children can be taught that video games come after fulfilling responsibilities, and that playing them is contingent upon everything being done properly.

7. Socializing

A video game can start or increase interaction with others, both in the virtual world and in the physical realm, which can help stave off loneliness and feelings of isolation. Many of the games are designed to be played with multiple players, who may actually be in a different part of the world. Others are designed to be played by two players, using the same gaming system.

8. Physical Therapy

Video game playing can be used in physical therapy because it requires movement of hands, arms, and other parts of the body. Many hospitals and rehabilitation centers have already started using them.

9. Controlled Environment for Young People

If you have teenagers in your home, you can encourage them to invite their friends over to play video games. This way, you will know where your child is, what he or she is doing, and exactly what video games are being played.

10. Learning Benefits

Many of the video games that are geared toward younger children (including preschoolers) allow children to learn colors, numbers, letters, shapes, and other things because they have to make the right move in order to see results.

You may have never even considered some of the positive impacts of video games, but now that you know them you can use them to your full advantage. Or, you may be able to think of other ways that video games provide mental and physical benefits, and you can use those also.

Jessy is the entertainment blogger who writes for Life Insurance Finder, the free Australian life insurance comparison tool.

Lady Gaga Launching New Website

Already the most followed on Twitter with 19 million followers, Lady Gaga is set to launch her own website. To be called Little Monsters, it is her way of thanking her fan base which she called “monsters” hence the name of her site.

Now in invite-only beta testing, Little Monsters will have a design similar to that of Pinterest, the fast rising mobile app that allows pinning of locations and items that users like. The site will focus on sharing and creation of photos and videos while promoting content that they like.

Little Monsters is the initial venture of Backplane, the startup company where Troy Carter, Lady Gaga’s manager, is one of the four founders. According to Matt Michelsen, Backplane CEO, the thrust of the company is to bring together online communities. Lady Gaga’s community serves as the pioneering site. Once other sites have been put up, Backplane would let users switch from one community to another.

Backplane is partially funded by Lady Gaga and it is planning to remove Little Monster from beta testing before launching more sites this year.  Aside from Carter, Backplane was co-founded by former Google designer Joey Primiani and former Palantic Director of Operations Alex Moore. Little Monster has been in beta testing for a month now and has since given out 10,000 codes, including one to Mashable.

Lady Gaga has made her presence felt in both social media and digital world. She joined Google+ in January 2012 and has already gained over 330,000 flowers. Aside from her 19 million Twitter followers, she also has 47 million Facebook fans. She was involved in two Google initiatives last year. She appeared in a Chrome commercial as well as appeared in Google Goes Gaga serving as a promotional campaign for Google Moderator. Lady Gaga made a record as the first artist to reach 1 billion views on You Tube. In fact, Vogue launched a Lady Gaga focused iPad-only magazine app.

Mags Malvar is a content writer for a promotional products company selling quality giveaways. Follow him at http://twitter.com/melvinmags

Hostess Down; Health Up

An all-American classic of unhealthy food may be on its way out of existence. Hostess Foods, the maker of Twinkies, Ho Hos, Sno Balls, and Wonder Bread, has officially filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Several factors converged to weaken Hostess’ revenue. First, several large companies began offering competing products. Hostess wasn’t able to maintain the same popularity against similar snacks like Little Debbie Snack Cakes or Entenmann’s baked goods. Second, Hostess is a union company, unlike most of the competing bakeries. This means that they face much higher costs in labor and massive liabilities in pensions for past workers. Third, Hostess also failed to invest in modernizing their fleet and other equipment to keep pace with competitive changes.

But the most significant problem for the company is very simple—people don’t like their snacks anymore. Whether we notice or not, Americans are becoming more health conscious than they were 25 years ago. According to one study, as recently as the year 2000, 54 percent of American’s were eating white bread at home, compared to only 36 percent today. When it comes to snacks, more Americans are also looking for healthier snack alternatives like yogurt or energy bars.

Twinkies and Sno Balls, on the other hand, are considered the ultimate unhealthy food. No one reaches out for these products because we think eating them is a good idea; we only do it if we like them enough not to care about the ingredients. And therein lies Hostess’ problem. With fewer customers that even like their products and many others who choose not to eat them for health reasons, there isn’t much of a silver lining to look for.

In reality, bankruptcy will be a temporary thing for the company. This status allows companies to restructure their debt, escape union obligations, and default on some pension obligations. For the time being, there is still a market for snacks that are nearly void of nutritional value, but there still isn’t much of a future in this market. If Hostess hopes to grow or even exist for the longer-term it will need to respond to where the market is going rather than where it has been.

Is the bankruptcy a good thing? It certainly isn’t for the shareholders or workers. Hostess now has legal permission to make changes that will take money out of their pockets. But for the rest of us, the bankruptcy is probably positive. For one thing, it represents progress in our dietary habits—something that has needed to happen for a while. It might also force Hostess’ board and shareholders to look for healthier products and products that will actually sell. If Hostess can turn itself around, we may all benefit. If not, we’ll just buy our baked goods from someone else—exactly what most of us are already doing anyway.

Tim Cooley has worked in the health and fitness community for many years.  Although he is sad to see the company flounder it just goes to show if you don’t meet, they will walk right by.  You won’t catch him eating a Twinkie at his desk working for Cox Cable Deals.  You can follow Tim on Twitter @ TimlCooley

How A Touch Screen Kiosk Can Improve Your Business’ Reach

Many businesses are now using touch screen kiosks to promote their products or services in places that simply would not be reached without the use of kiosks. By setting up kiosks in key locations, such as inside malls or other high traffic areas, companies and even small businesses can reach a much wider demographic than they otherwise could if they solely operated out of conventional shops or offices. In this way, kiosks function as satellites to the main stores or offices.

Other businesses prefer to use kiosks within the actual stores. This can be very useful for retailers, because it allows them to free up storage space. Since the consumer can browse the business’ website on the kiosk and choose the items they wish to purchase, they can simply see a sample at the store and have the actual item delivered to them from the warehouse. Stores would only need to carry a single size if they are clothing store, for example, and the customer can find information on the item they are interested in and have the size they would prefer delivered to them. This eliminates the need to keep all sizes and styles in-stock at the store or showroom.

 Types Of Kiosks

Another great thing is that there are so many different types of electronic kiosks. There are retail kiosks that allow consumers to browse the products being offered by the company. There are also medical kiosks that can help to bring medical attention to far reaching areas. These kiosks can measure and deliver information about things like blood pressure and body weight.

And then there are educational kiosks that are used in schools and other learning centers. These interactive kiosks help students to learn using their own initiative and curiosity. It can make learning a lot more fun for younger children and also help develop computer technologic skills. All these different types of kiosks can help to promote your business in ways and places that would not otherwise be possible.

Stacey Cavalari is a technology specialist writer for Phoenix kiosk, a Kiosk Manufacturer firm in Tempe, AZ. Phoenix Kiosk specializes in custom kiosks for small to large size organizations.

Thanks to Gorilla Glass Modern Touch Screens Get Thinner & Stronger

We seem to want everything to be thinner and lighter today, particularly our technology. Televisions that took up considerable space even in large rooms are designed to hang on the wall, mere inches in thickness. Computers that occupied buildings are now inside inch-thick, portable laptops. Smart-phones, digital cameras, MP3 players, computer monitors, even wristwatches are so thin they seem almost one-sided at times.

For those who see thinner as better, and perhaps thought we were getting to the theoretical end of “thinness,” particularly as it applies to technology, will be very happy to learn that Corning Inc., the maker of Gorilla Glass, unveiled the next generation of its thin and durable glass used in more than 500 electronic gadgets.

If you’re not familiar with Gorilla Glass by name, you undoubtedly know it by application. It is the ultra-thin glass that is the screen on virtually all of your personal and portable electronic devices including your smart-phone, iPad, and MP3 player. You’ll agree that it’s thin, resistant to scratches, and quite responsive for your various touch screen apps and other activities.

At the recent International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Corning unveiled Gorilla Glass 2, which they say is 20% thinner. The first iteration of their glass was an impressive 1mm thick. Their latest version is 0.8mm in thickness, which the companies says causes the screen to respond more quickly and accurately.

The company is quick to point out that it’s not entirely scratch-resistant, and that it will break—just like the first version—if dropped onto a hard surface or otherwise smashed, but it is exactly as strong and scratch-resistant as the first version even though it is 20% thinner.

Engineers at Corning also say that the new glass allows more light through, which in turn creates a brighter display. This means you can actually use the settings inside your device to dim the screen a bit, which helps extend the charge in the battery, without any actual loss in brightness, clarity, or contrast.

Will a 20% thinner screen translate to an overall thinner set of consumer electronic products? It’s a little early to tell yet, but thinner is definitely the trend. And touch-screen companies like Acer, Asus, Dell, HTC, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, and Sony don’t show any signs of reversing that trend by rolling out thicker, more cumbersome products any time soon.

Author Bio: Greg Buckskin writes on technology, TV, and pop culture at CableTV.com.

Anti-Aging Skin Care Strategies

Every single one of us has looked in the mirror at some point and thought, “Wow, that is not what I was expecting.” While there may be times that you then pat yourself on the back for looking better than usual, the hard truth is that far more often that “wow” sentiment is accompanied by something to the effect of “I look rough.” Fortunately, with a little moisturizer, foundation and bronzer, most women can work miracles, continuing on throughout the day without dreading the next encounter with their reflection. However, this “quick fix” is a temporary one, and once the cosmetics are removed you may once more find yourself confronting a visage that you would prefer to not put on display.

Let’s be clear: often our perceptions of ourselves and our looks are largely in our heads. An objective observer is pretty unlikely in most cases to agree with your harsh rating of yourself. However, your personal perception of yourself plays a major role in your confidence and your daily behavior. This makes it vitally important that you are taking the steps necessary to keep yourself looking and feeling healthy and attractive.

One of the biggest problem areas for women and men in terms of perceived and actual beauty is physical aging. Over time, your skin succumbs to the daily ravages of gravity, weather and your own facial expressions to create lines, wrinkles, furrows and discolorations. Your face, probably the most active part of your body, is particularly prone to these issues and also is the first part of you that most people notice. As a result, keeping your facial skin smooth and intact is very important to keeping yourself looking youthful and attractive.

While you have probably heard of wrinkle cream products that promise  to turn back the clock, there are also some simple things you can do to literally stop wrinkles in their tracks. Even better, most of them will not cost you a thing. Taking care of your skin the right way will save you tremendous time, energy and money later on in life. Follow these three simple guidelines for anti-aging, anti-wrinkle skin care that will literally stop wrinkles in their tracks. [Read more...]

Why Your Company Cannot Afford to NOT be on Facebook

No longer is Facebook the domain of media-savvy college students connecting across campus. In the last four years, Facebook has opened its doors to everyone – almost literally. For businesses, this presents an amazing opportunity. Why? Because there are over 800 million users on Facebook today, and each one could be converted into a customer.

In this way, Facebook presents a unique opportunity. A normal Facebook user has his or her personal profile that is used to connect with friends and interests. So, too, can a company. Similarly, the business is able to develop a persona.

Take away the digital aspect and think about it like this: if you are unsure about where to buy a nice dress for a special occasion, you probably turn to your best friend. If your best friend has a great recommendation, you are likely going to check it out. If your best friend says they don’t know for sure, but their close friend – who you’ve never met – has a tip for a good find, you would probably still trust that advice.

You trust your friends because you know them and presume that they would not steer you wrong. This is what your business can develop through Facebook. Through your Facebook page, you can interact with customers in a way that is impossible in your store or through your website. You, too, can begin to share likes and dislikes, give tips that are helpful, and develop trust.

Crowdspring gives us a more concrete statistic as to why your business needs to be on Facebook. They reported in 2011 that 51% of Facebook users “are more likely to buy the brands they…are a fan of.” Out of the 800 million users, that is quite a high number of people who buy products sold by pages they “like” on Facebook.

Your business cannot afford to not be on Facebook. It’s a simple way to grow your brand and develop a relationship with customers. The ultimate benefit is that, of course, it is free. Through diligent postings, you can convert Facebook users into clients without spending any money.

To get started, just set up a page. Be sure to post regularly, keep that persona you develop – don’t be a wishy-washy friend, and interact with customers. Results may not be instantaneous, but they will develop.

Liz Childers works at Apex Creative, helping clients with their social media needs. 

Tips for Camping with Kids

Camping with your kids can be a lot of fun, however, it can also be a lot of work. There are several challenges to camping as a family, including meeting everyone’s needs. As you prepare for this year’s camping season a few simple tips will help you plan for a much more enjoyable family vacation.

Tip #1 – Plan for Keeping Your Family Hydrated

A lot of the problems that can develop on a family camping trip transpire because your family is not properly hydrated. Mood swings, exhaustion, overheating and headaches can all be traced back to an insufficient amount of fluids. To avoid these problems all you have to do is make sure you have enough drinking water on hand and that you encourage everyone to drink water regularly throughout the day.

Tip #2 – Keep Your Family Fueled Up

Another issue that can dampen your family fun while camping is insufficient calories or insufficient nutrients. When you are in the great outdoors and moving around a lot you burn a lot more calories than when you are just sitting at home. To avoid hunger pains, mood swings and crankiness you need to keep your family fed with nutrition food, not just junk. Fruits, nuts and vegetables are all great snacks that can help keep energy levels and blood sugar levels steady. Also remember to plan healthy sources of protein, like fresh fish from a stream.

Tip #3 – Bring Comfort Items

If you are traveling with young children then remember to bring comfort items with you. This will help your kids to adjust to their new surroundings and the sensory overload that they will get by spending time outside in the wild. Comfort items include blankets, toys, books and other small, portable objects.

Tip #4 – Make Preparing for the Trip a Family Affair

Often kids feel left out of vacation planning. As a result, they may act out or be combative about going on a camping trip with their parents. This is particularly true. To overcome this obstacle, have your pre-teens or teens help with the planning and preparing for the trip. For example, have them map out where you will be going, or have them run to the store to pick up the food or other items that you need for the trip.

Tip #5 – Be Prepared for Everything

The final tip is to be reasonably prepared for what could happen on a camping trip. Have rain gear, cold weather clothing, spare tires, air pumps, enough food and water for your family and have a backup plan if one camping idea falls through.

A New Zealand family vacation can be a lot of fun. You’ll find more interesting tips on this NZ vacation blog.

New ALMS Car Pack is Now Available for Forza Motorsport 4

Forza Motorsport has announced that their new ALMS DLC Car Pack is now available for purchase on the XBox Live Marketplace. This pack adds 10 cars to the Forza Motorsport 4 car list. Some of the cars included are past and present Le Mans race cars while others are group B rally cars and American Muscle Cars.  The ALMS car pack is the 4th DLC pack to be released for Forza Motorsport 4 and will retail for 560 microsoft points.

The ALMS car pack includes the following cars:  2011 #2 Audi Sport North America R18 TDI , 2011 Panoz #050 Panoz Racing Abruzzi, 2010 Dodge Quinton “Rampage” Jackson Challenger SRT-8, 1991 Mazda #55 Team Mazdaspeed 787B, 2011 Bentley Platinum Motorsports Continental GT, 1986 #2 Audi Sport Quattro S1,  1992 Alfa Romeo 155 Q4, 1995 Ford Mustang Cobra R,  2011 Holden HSV GTS  and  the 2011 Volkswagen Polo GTI.

More information about Xbox 360 can be found online at http://www.xbox.com .