Going Beyond 'Educational' Video Games

“Video games can be very powerful stimulants to children’s brains. That’s why kids often prefer playing video games to playing outdoors or playing a board game,” says the author of The Big Disconnect Catherine Steiner-Adair, who has written about how the digital revolution profoundly impacts childhood and family relationships.

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Gaming” by JESHOOTS is licensed under CC by 2.0

As a parent, it is a good idea to take the initiative and say, choose which video game to play with your kids (not necessarily educational). The mere fact that you’ll be playing with them should be enough for the kids to agree to your choice (at least for the time being). While you’re bound to have fun and bond while playing – there’ll be moments of laughing, teasing, fighting or whoops of joy through the game - it is important to not let the child have the upper hand and emerge a winner every time though. They should get the idea that winning and losing is all part and parcel of playing.

Another positive opportunity for parents and kids to communicate freely while playing video games arises as a result of the role reversal factor which is bound to occur. Needless to say, your little one will probably be way better than you at the game. Querying about the nitty-gritties and asking open-ended questions about the game will help your kids don the role of a teacher and open up to you.

The icing on the cake? Speaking from personal experience, some video gaming sessions yield unexpectedly deep conversations with the kids without them realizing it; the game controller in their hands somehow makes it easier for them to converse.

To conclude, author Catherine Steiner-Adair couldn’t have put it better when she said: “If you have a child who loves video games, make sure they maintain their capacity to get pleasure from games that aren’t video games. What you don’t want to have is the magic of the iPad delete the magic of the playground.”

A Fun Outdoor Online Game for Kids

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Pokemon” by Tumisu is licensed under CC by 2.0

Well, online games that made your kids sit indoors all day with their noses glued to their tablet screens are now passé; Pokemon Go is the new extremely popular game these days that is taking the world by storm. Here are three reasons why you should be playing this fun outdoor online game with your kids:

• First and foremost, it encourages you to get up, get outside and get walking, since you can only find your Pokemon if you head outdoors.
• You get to spend some quality time with your kids, which otherwise might not have been possible. Getting to be on the same page as them, even if only for a while, is a big reason you should be playing the game along with them.
• Last but not the least, it is FUN! Sharing a common interest, finding your way around exploring new places and of course, getting hold of the generally evasive Pikachu can be a fun-filled experience in itself.

Need we say more?


'Healthy' Educational Games for Kids

Play is the answer to how anything new comes about for kids – and the phrase ‘anything new’ could come to include literally anything to do with learning as well. And gaming experts are going to great lengths in order to teach kids about their own health and well-being, albeit in enjoyable way – by means of a game, of course.

Leave alone educational games that cater to create a better understanding of merely school subjects. Now is the era of mobile games and apps that aim to improve healthier lifestyle amongst kids. For instance, Wizdy Pets is an app geared towards kids who suffer from asthma. This one is just like any other virtual pet games for kids in which young users are entrusted with the responsibility of caring for a cute pet dragon. The catch? This one is not one of those dragons in everyday games that can breathe fire and destroy his opponents in the blink of an eye. The reason – the little guy has asthma. And thus, he needs to be looked after and his breathing kept in check. What’s more, the pet dragon even has an almost real inhaler that he needs to take at regular intervals to keep hale and hearty!

A brilliant gaming idea for kids with asthma, I must say. And as the news goes, next on the cards is another ‘healthy’ mobile app game meant for kids, centered on food allergies.

The extensive use of app and gaming technology in the present is revolutionizing the way we look at health care delivery on the whole. The saying goes – ‘If you want to change the mind-set of a people, catch them young’. And that’s exactly what educational gaming companies are looking to do these days; catching kids at a time in their lives when they are still in the process of developing behavior which they are likely to keep with them for the rest of their lives.

Another name which is doing very well in enlightening kids about the health and nutrition section is the Nourish Interactive website. It has fun printables and worksheets for kids, articles and tips for parents on kids’ nutrition as well as fun educational games for kids, such as ‘Avoid the Junk Food’ game.

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Cartoon, Kids, Children” by Prawny is licensed under CC by 2.0

Scrub Club is an additional website which I found fascinating in this context. As the name goes, it’s all about a quirky set of colorful characters who talk about the importance of washing hands before meals and keeping clean in general. There are heroes and then there are villains in the game too (read: harmful bacteria). Basically kids get to learn how to do away with the ‘bad germs’ and take precautions when need be, for example from the flu.

Healthy living is all about one continuous cycle – keeping clean, eating better, exercising often, feeling good and thinking positive. And if something as simple and gratifying for kids as video games can do the trick, nothing like it!

3 New Tablets Exclusively for Kids

Gone are the days when parents would buy smartphones, tablets and laptops taking into account only their own needs and wants. The new generation of parents today needs to factor in their kids whenever they decide to purchase any new gadget. And the latest entrants into the market? Tablets designed exclusively for little ones. Go on, have a look.

1. Fable: This one is meant for the age group of 3-10 years. Designed primarily from an educational point of view, parents have full control over who can interact with their child online and who cannot. The fact that this tablet doesn’t have a typical browser is reason enough to give kids a free hand with the gadget, armed with a stylus for drawing on the screen. The bonus? It has a camera too, to make the little ones even happier.

2. Sprout Channel Cubby: Heard of the 24-hour preschool Sprout Channel, which is full of kids’ games, videos and fun activities? Well, this tablet is an offshoot of that itself. More than 40 shows from the channel have their own devoted space on this preloaded tablet, which can also connect to Google Play to get hold of more games and apps if required.

3. Leapfrog Epic: LeapFrog’s educational toys have been around for eons. And its android tablet with a kid-safe browser is a steal. It has a sort of a virtual world contained within it in the form of an exciting interactive village that can change with the time of the day or night, the seasons or even your kids’ age! Perfect for when you have more than one tiny tot at home.

Now you know what to gift your little tyke on his coming birthday!

Wacky NFL Games Online

For football fans, and even those who only watch football when the Super Bowl rolls around, ‘NFL games online’ can only mean one thing – more football. Sure there are differences from game to game, but all of them are expected to follow certain basic guidelines: players expect to see familiar names, NFL teams, and most importantly some good ol’ football! However, not everyone seems to agree. There are some highly unconventional online games on the internet, parading as ‘NFL games online’. And the most interesting bit? They are all available on the NFL kids’ website, ‘NFL Rush’!

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Photo by U.S. Army RDECOM

Here is a small sample of some of the wacky NFL games you can find on the internet.

1. Frankfurter Fling 2
This is exactly the kind of NFL game I was referring to. The main characters ‘Ish’ and ‘Ricky’ are people you’ve never heard of, nor are you expected to have heard of them. After all, they are simply hot dog sellers selling frankfurters at a football game. The point of the game is to see how far across the stadium you can launch your hot dog or soda can. By timing your clicks right, you can get an additional boost of energy mid-air. You can also get help from targets like rainbows and blimps to keep you soaring through the air for a few extra seconds.
The online NFL game ‘Frankfurter Fling 2’ was created as a sequel to ‘Frankfurter Fling’ owing to its immense popularity on the internet.

2. Galactic Rusherz
I must admit that the NFL connection is even more difficult to perceive in this online NFL game. Granted, the space ships seem to be prolate spheroids, and so are footballs. But that’s about it. The object of the game is to get your space ships safely through the field of asteroids. Using the arrow keys to move about and the space bar to fire laser beams, players try to get as far as they can without colliding into any of the asteroids.

3. Triangle Football
Here’s another wacky NFL game online! It’s you against the computer playing ‘football’. The NFL logo is your ball, and a table top is your football field. You and the computer take turns with a virtual hand to ‘kick’ the football across the table. Spills on the table can veer your calculated kicks off course, so it’s best to avoid them. The game controls may take some getting used to. In the meantime, the victory dance performed on behalf of the computer is quite entertaining to watch!

4. Jockstrap Slingshot
Erm, yes. That’s the actual name of the game. Joe is trapped in the laundry room, but luckily he’s found a laundry cart to move about in. However, there’s a barrage of falling objects and he must avoid them as best as he can. Players earn points by helping Joe use his jockstrap slingshot to shoot at the falling objects before they hit the ground.

5. Pizza Pie Perfection
In this online NFL game, you’ve been asked by the coach to help out at his brother’s pizza place. The experience is supposed to help you improve your footwork and hand-eye coordination skills. The coach’s instructions do seem bizarre, until you realize what the work involves. The chef randomly chops up toppings and tosses them behind his back. It’s up to you to be in the right place at the right time, get your pizza topped according to the customers’ orders, and serve them up in as little time as possible!

As bizarre as these online NFL games seem to be, they are admittedly quite fun to play. You can check out the NFL Rush website for these and other fun games for kids. Whether you’re looking for hard core football games or just some quick entertainment, you can be sure to find a game that suits your tastes on their website.
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brionnasimpson

Author:brionnasimpson
I am an assistant teacher and my aim is to curate unique learning tips and techniques customized towards kids.

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