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I like expert advice. If I don’t know how to do something, rather than blunder along trying to figure it out, I turn to someone who’s smart on the topic. When it comes to parenting, my advice-seeking started with the pregnancy how-to What to Expect When You’re Expecting, then moved to Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, and then on to Montessori Today.

Now I’ve found a great guide for the latest challenge my family faces: video games. Technology and high-tech parenting expert Scott Steinberg’s The Modern Parent’s Guide to Kids and Video Games is now available as a free download and offers a lot of practical parenting solutions to our screen-saturated world. With chapters such as “Common Concerns about Video Games,” “Setting Ground Rules,” and “Guidelines for Healthy Gaming,” and a myriad appendix topics such as “How to Setup and Use Parental Controls” and “Video Game Glossary,” this guide gives parents a solid foundation to navigate the video game world with their kids.

To be sure, this is not the guide for parents who plan to keep video games away from their kids. The first few chapters are geared toward convincing parents that kids actually need video games in their lives: “The great thing about video games nowadays is that kids are learning new skills without even knowing it,” Steinberg writes. “Experts have seen increases in lateral and critical thinking, problem solving and dynamic decision making amongst players, not to mention obvious improvements in hand-eye coordination. In fact, much of what kids get out of games maps pretty closely with the skill sets required of 21st century job seekers.”

Get it? No video games now equals no job later, or so we’re told in this guide.

Nevertheless, while Steinberg takes a more pro-video game stance than I’m able to, I applaud a main message in his guide: If you are going to let your children play video games, play with them.

“Ultimately, expert consensus suggests that the choice of whether games can be beneficial or detrimental to kids comes down to fundamental playing habits, exposure to age-appropriate content and, most vitally, active parental involvement and awareness,” Steinberg writes.

The Modern Parent’s Guide to Kids and Video Games will help parents get up-to-speed with the technology, see things from their kids’ points of view, and hopefully make peace with parenting’s latest challenge.

For more about parenting in the digital age from the guide’s author, check out this Mashable.com Q&A with Scott Steinberg.

If you are a parent, you probably remember reading the oh-so-sleepy children’s classic Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. In it a child bunny says goodnight to everything: Goodnight room. Goodnight moon. Goodnight cow jumping over the moon. Goodnight light, and the red balloon … While Goodnight Moon did a beautiful job capturing the essence of a peaceful 1947 house, it was time for a 21st Century update. Now parents can lull their children to sleep with Goodnight iPad by Ann Droyd (get it?)

“Goodnight iPad. Goodnight Doom. Goodnight bird launching over the moon. Goodnight Nooks and digital books …” I mean, who even notices the moon anymore with the glow of gadgets blinding us at night?

This book, subtitled “a parody for the next generation,” does a funny job reminding us of just how much times have changed. Gone are the days when the most exciting thing in a room could be “two little kittens and a pair of mittens.” Today’s house is plugged-in 24/7, and the bunnies in this book have clearly been to Best Buy more than a few times. They don’t just have an iPad to turn off, but also computers, giant TVs, Nooks, and BlackBerries. My favorite touch that David Milgrim (the actual author) includes in the illustrations is a television set with a video of a fire in a fireplace on the screen in front of the actual, empty fireplace. Sure drives home how absurdly hooked on our virtual lives we all are!

The room is full of beeps and dings and tap-tap-tapping, until the old woman bunny (aka Mom) has had enough. To the moans and protests of the little bunnies (and even the Daddy bunny) she pries every last tech toy out of their hands and throws them out the window. “Goodnight remotes and Netflix streams, Androids, apps, and glowing screens.” You can just feel the calm settle over the house, and finally everyone nods off. “Goodnight gadgets everywhere.”

Goodnight iPad offers an excellent opportunity to laugh at our screen-obsessed selves while it gently reminds us that, at the end of the day, everyone needs to power off and recharge.

And just so you don’t actually have to leave your computer, iPad or smartphone to read Goodnight iPad, here it is for your screen-viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

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