Here's a game with a message that's actually fun to play, for this parent and her 8-year-old son — Awesome Upstander!, a new anti-bullying app (99 cents at the iTunes App Store and Google Play) we tested together for the iPad.
Let's start by defining an upstander. You won't find it in the dictionary — unless you are referring to an Eskimo sledge handlebar — but an upstander is a word being used to describe someone who stands up to a bully.
In the app, a boy tried to bully another boy at school. "Grab three friends plus an air freshener because bullying STINKS!" the game instructs the player on the first round. The upstander, which the player controls, then hops, skips and jumps through the cafeteria, grabbing healthy foods along the way.
Each level gets a little more challenging and offers a different mission, each with a bullying-is-bad lesson.
I asked Harrison if he learned anything from the game. "I already know all this stuff," he said. When asked what exactly he knew, he replied, "I know to always stand up for myself and to get an adult if I need help."
But he continued to play, and couldn't push me away, as we both giggled at the burping sounds and goofy music accompanying the action.
By the way, parents, there is an option to turn sound off.