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Video Games with Ash Brandin


Video Games with Ash Brandin

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“How will you know when you’re done?”

This is episode 81 and today I’m here with Ash Brandin talking about video games. 


Ash Brandin, EdS, is a middle school teacher living in Colorado. After researching the use of video games in classrooms, Ash found there was very little research about how games compel players to play and how this can be brought into the classroom. Since 2016, Ash has spoken across the country about how classrooms and academic spaces can mimic game structures to make learning compelling, motivating, and engaging. Ash believes games, specifically entertainment games, can help us create better teaching, more engaging learning, and motivated life-long learners. In 2021, Ash pivoted their gaming and educational content onto Instagram. On their page- TheGamerEducator– they help guide families to have a relationship with screens and video games that benefits everyone in a family. In addition to teaching and gaming, Ash loves baking, hiking, and going to car shows with their child.


Research: Ash walks us through what the research actually tells us about the effects of technology use and gaming with children.

Blame: Screens are a common scapegoat—they’re often blamed for behavior that we view as problematic, but Ash walks us through a helpful parallel between leaving a playground and turning off screens.

Systemic Gaps: Technology is filling in some systemic gaps and sometimes the question is less about the effects on the individual child and more about the net benefit for the family, which includes said child. We discuss why we might consciously choose to give our kids screens to meet our personal or larger family needs as often under-supported parents.

Amount: We cover what’s the right amount and at what point it becomes too much.

Replace: Parents sometimes come to me concerned about the amount of technology use in their families and before we pull back on any technology, we built up other options. We get curious about what the person is getting from the technology and get creative and supportive in providing alternatives. Ash encourages parents to ask themselves, “Can this screen time be reasonably replaced by something else?” and they share what kinds of replacements they have seen be successful.

Division of Responsibility: With food, parents provide, kids decide—parents choose what food is on offer and when it’s available, kids choose which of the options to consume and how much from what is available. With technology it can be similarly helpful to get clear on the division of responsibility, lest we fall into power struggles. We share the division of responsibility with technology.

Benefits: For parents who struggle to see the value of video games, Ash goes over the benefits kids are gaining from video game play.

Frustration: We give recommendations for how we can support our kids with technology when frustration arises, like their magic question, “What have you already tried?”

Off-Ramp: Often the biggest pain point with kids and technology is the off-ramp. Ash has another magical question to ask when our kids are struggling to turn off a show or game at the agreed upon time and that is, “How will you know when you’re done?” We speak to how this question helps.

Help with Screens

If you are feeling out of alignment with your values or needs around video games, I highly recommend The Bucket System, through which you can front load your priorities, hold space your values, and have a place for technology. You can jump in with us here.

Dive Deeper

Ash’s website: The Gamer Educator

Ash on IG @thegamereducator

Common Sense Media

Bucket System

Sage Family Podcast 15: Screens with Leah McDermott

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I work from an island in the Pacific Northwest, where I live wild and free in connection with my hilarious husband and three growing sailors in our fixer upper on the beach. I authentically live this healing work out loud raising my own neurodivergent family (inner child included) and draw on my decades of education and experience (I've done all the nerdy work so you don't have to) to guide a revolution of overwhelmed parents just like you to feeling at peace within yourself, consciously connected with your children, embraced by a supportive community, and enjoying a values-aligned life you love.

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