Law Office of Michael J. Letsen June 2017

www. t raf f i cattorneyva . us (276)988-6561 f rom 8 : 30 a .m. to 4 : 30 p.m. 1(855)482-2889–avai l abl e 24/7 JUNE 2017 FROM THE DESK OF Michael

THE POWER OF IMAGINED WORLDS How Video Games can Make a Positive Difference THE LETSEN LEDGER


As I write this article, Father’s Day is around the corner, and

I would like to talk about the biggest problem I see facing our great country. The most common theme I have noticed in over ten years of defending cases is the absence of the father in the home of my defendants.

Children from fatherless homes account for:

A generation ago, video games were regarded as a toy. For years, parents considered gaming a useless pastime. Now, however, video games are the highest-grossing form of entertainment, and they are being studied as a potent educational tool. As a parent, you want to be careful of the entertainment that your children consume, but that doesn’t mean you need to eliminate video games. With a little research and an open mind, you can expose your children to beneficial games that broaden their horizons. A study in American Psychologist, the flagship journal of the American Psychological Agency, sought to determine whether video games had a positive or negative influence on children. Their results, collected in a paper called “The Benefits of Playing Video Games,”might surprise you. “We propose that, taken together, these findings suggest that video games provide youth with immersive and compelling social, cognitive, and emotional experiences,” the authors write. “Further, these experiences may have the potential to enhance mental health and well-being in children and adolescents.” How do games generate these reactions? They create real, passionate engagement. When you think about it, games require more participation than movies or TV. Rather than just sitting back and watching, games force you to make decisions. This interactivity builds a bond between the player and the game and immerses the player in the game’s world. Games also teach dynamic problem-solving, collaboration, and creativity. Perhaps no game better demonstrates these qualities than “Minecraft.” As STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) curricula have spread, “Minecraft” has become an introduction to the world of programming. If you have young children, you probably already know what “Minecraft” is, but for those who don’t, it is essentially a digital version of Legos. The added wrinkle is that “Minecraft”

a. 60 percent of America’s rapists b. 63 percent of America’s suicides c. 70 percent of America’s long-term prison inmates d. 72 percent of America’s adolescent murderers e. 85 percent of America’s youth prisoners f. 90 percent of America’s runaways The picture above is my nephew. His biological father was never in his life and has never bothered to try. Under the circumstances, I tried to step up and help where I could. I taught Jonathan right from wrong. We even did a Bible study once a week when I was in college and law school. However, it wasn’t until our fifth year into the Bible study that he broke down and asked why his father didn’t care for him. I’ve never heard a young man cry like he did. It was a conversation that I will never forget. I did the best I could to comfort him from the hole his father left in his life. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon story. There are lots of Jonathans out there who need our help. It is never too late to make an impact or difference in someone’s life.

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Cover story, continued ...

has rules that allow you to craft new objects from existing ones — a stick plus a piece of charcoal creates a torch, for example. These rules are analogous to the way computer programming languages work, and they introduce children to a valuable way of thinking that can stick with them for the rest of their lives. Clive Thompson wrote a piece for The New York Times Magazine called “The Minecraft Generation,”which examines the prevalence of the game in today’s educational system. In it, he explores the way “Minecraft” has enhanced the lives of people of all ages in a variety of ways. Some kids create guides on YouTube to help fellow young players, while others have learned how to operate internet servers simply through playing the game. Thompson cites the social critic Walter Benjamin to help explain the “Minecraft” phenomenon: “Children are particularly fond of haunting any site where things are being visibly worked on. They are irresistibly drawn by the detritus generated by building, gardening, housework,

tailoring, or carpentry.” From blocks to Legos to “Minecraft,” then, is an evolutionary line of creative play. Of course, video games are not without pitfalls. There’s no denying that there are lots of games filled with depictions of violence, among other things that you may want your children to avoid. Luckily, video games also have robust ratings guidelines created by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). On the ESRB website, you can find not just the rating for a given title, but also the reasons for that rating. That means that before you purchase a game for your child, you can rest assured that the content is appropriate. Another great tool that promotes responsible game use is the app Moment. Moment lets you track the amount of time your children spend on screens each day to ensure that they aren’t playing too much. About three hours per day should be the upper limit.

One way they do this is through what researcher Jane McGonigal call “epic wins.” In her book, “Superbetter,” she describes how games present fair challenges that make you feel good after completing them. The challenges escalate according to your skill level, making each win more “epic” than the last. This loop of challenge and success leads to what McGonigal calls urgent optimism. “Urgent optimism,” she says, “is the desire to act immediately to tackle an obstacle, combined with the belief that we have a reasonable hope of success.” It can be hard to cut through the preconceived notions surrounding video games — that they are mindless, that they are just for boys, that they promote bad habits. Research shows that all of these are myths or relics of days gone by. As long as you are proactive in monitoring the way your kids play, video games can be a valuable part of any childhood.

With these tools, you can ensure that games generate positive growth in your children.

underneath the following car in the motorcade. The explosion wounded roughly 20 people, but did not harm the intended targets. Shaken by the first attempt, the Austrian royals altered their plans. They decided to head to the hospital to visit those injured in the bombing. As a safety precaution, officials devised an alternate route that would avoid major streets and crowds. Tragically, the motorcade took a wrong turn, putting them back in harm’s way. As the car stopped to turn around, Princip produced his pistol and fired two shots that would fatally wound Ferdinand and Sophie. In the aftermath of the assassinations, Austria-Hungary would issue an ultimatum to Serbia that would test alliances throughout Europe. A month later, on July 28, 1914, WorldWar I had officially begun. For more information on this subject, check out Greg King and Sue Woolmans’ book, “The Assassination of the Archduke.” The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand The Bullets That BeganWorldWar I

When Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Sophie, he set off a series of events that would lead to the largest-scale war the world had ever known. The shots he fired on June 28, 1914 led directly to the collapse of fragile alliances throughout Europe and the beginning of WorldWar I. Since the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary in 1908, tensions were high between the people and their ruling empire. With the Archduke visiting Sarajevo in June of 1914, the Serbian secret military society, known as the Black Hand, devised a plan to assassinate Ferdinand. Seven men were stationed throughout the city as the Archduke’s motorcade traveled through the streets. One of the attackers threw a bomb at the vehicle containing the royals. Instead of landing in their car, it bounced off, coming to a stop in the street and exploding

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The Nintendo Switch has been available for a few months now, since its debut March 3. In some places, it’s still hard to find. The Switch, the latest video game console from the Japanese company, has taken the Switch Up Your Day

world by storm. It’s quickly proving to be a much-needed success for the company, after their last home device, the Wii U, fell short. The Wii U sold less than 14 million units globally since its launch in 2012 (compare that to the Nintendo Wii, which launched in 2006 and has sold over 100 million units worldwide). With so much attention on the Switch, does Nintendo have another winner on their hands? If you haven’t had the chance to play the device, or it hasn’t piqued your interest, now may be the time to give it a look. Since Nintendo introduced the Wii in 2006, they have aimed to cater to a broader crowd and bridge demographics. It’s not just kids and game enthusiasts who are getting in on the action. It’s everyone. And one of the reasons why the Switch has such broad appeal has a lot to do with time. It’s a great device for people who don’t have a lot of time to play video games or are constantly on the go, moving between the home and office, and elsewhere. The genius behind the Switch’s design is functionality. You can play the device on your TV or grab the console and go, using it like a tablet. The controllers, dubbed Joy-Cons, click right into the sides of the portable screen, keeping everything in one place — and keeping you moving. Plus, many of the games are designed with the busy lifestyle in mind. Pause the action and continue at your leisure, all without missing a beat. IS THE NINTENDO SWITCH A VIDEO GAME CONSOLE FOR EVERYONE?

Take a Break

Sensational SUMMER SALAD

It’s officially the season of salads, and fruit salads are summer’s specialty! Enjoy this tasty dish as a side or main course. For some added protein, toss in a handful of slivered almonds or chopped pecans.

• 1 pound strawberries, thinly sliced • 3 medium peaches, thinly sliced • 1 cup blueberries • 1 heaping tablespoon fresh basil or mint, chopped Ingredients 1. In a medium serving bowl, combine the Directions

• 2 tablespoons lemon juice • 1 tablespoon maple syrup • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

3. Gently toss to combine. 4. Serve immediately, or chill for later.

strawberries, peaches, blueberries, and basil.

2. Drizzle lemon juice, maple syrup, and

balsamic vinegar on top.

Recipe inspired by

Give Us a Call! 276-988-6561 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. • 1(855)482-2889 available 24/7 • 3

(276)988-6561 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 1(855)482-2889 24/7 Michael J. Letsen, Esq Galumbeck & Kegley P.O. Box 626 Tazewell, VA 24651


INSIDE THIS ISSUE From the Desk of Michael PAGE 1 The Power of ImaginedWorlds PAGE 1 The Bullets That BeganWorldWar I PAGE 2 A Video Game Console for Everyone? PAGE 3 Take a Break! PAGE 3 Sensational Summer Salad PAGE 3 Avoid the Summer Slide PAGE 4 Having the kids home from school can be awesome, but how do you keep them busy and mentally engaged? You might find yourself eyeing expensive summer camps or wondering about private tutors. But that’s not necessary. Instead, check out some of these great summer reading rewards programs. All these programs are free, they’ll get your kids reading, and they’ll give you some time to yourself to boot! The local library is the best place to start. Most city libraries have great summer reading programs that will reward kids for their hard work with prizes, awards, and even free books. Libraries are also great places to get suggestions for kids, and they offer fun activities during the day and night that will foster a love of learning and reading — and lead to more ideas on what to read! But libraries aren’t the only places that reward summer reading. National

Summer Reading Programs for Kids AVOID THE SUMMER SLIDE

businesses also get in on the fun. Barnes & Noble will give a free book to any child who completes their summer reading triathlon journal ( summerreading). Chuck E. Cheese will give any child 10 free tokens if they read every day and record their progress on their reading calendar ( Pizza Hut will also reward young readers for filling out a passport (bookitprogram.

com), and there are other companies that offer incentives. Remember, reading is about more than just learning. It’s also about keeping minds active to fight the “summer slide” that educators dread every new school year. If you want your kids to have fun, stay sharp, and win cool prizes, get them involved in summer reading!

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