Received a submission from one of our readers for the new Parenting section, also known by some as Corrupting Our Youth, although I prefer something along the lines of Influencing Free Range Children.
I hope you enjoy this short post by Jenna Sherman of Parent-Leaders. You can find her bio at the end.
Thanks! Dr. Redbeard
As a parent, you may be concerned about how much time your kids are spending on computers, tablets, and/or smartphones. Rather than try to stop them, however, consider harnessing that interest in technology and divert it into games that will help them learn.
Games as Additional Teaching Tools
Instead of thinking of games as entertainment, recognize that many of them are additional teaching tools that you can use to complement existing curricula. Many children find it difficult to learn with traditional classroom methods, but video games can be an engrossing alternative for enrichment. Engaging more senses helps some students retain more information, which is why games are increasingly being used as educational tools. While they are sometimes used in school programming, they’ve also been inserted into lesson plans for home-schooling, for learning remotely, and for after-school homework and tutoring.
If you really want to embrace gaming options for your children, you’ll need an internet set-up that can handle the increased requirements that this will entail. Fiber optics are often the best way to ensure that there is no lag in the connection, but regardless of the type of cable you can afford or access, it’s important to avoid buffering and present as seamless of a gaming experience as possible. This allows kids to continue their on-screen journey without getting frustrated, as well as to download programs faster.
Types of Games
When your internet connection is firing on all cylinders and you’re ready to incorporate games into your child’s education, there are several categories of games that can provide both fun and educational opportunities.
- Educational titles: Some games are specifically and transparently oriented toward education, such as those found on the PBS games It’s home to a variety of games that cover different subjects including math, reading and science, all while featuring characters from popular kids’ shows that appear on public television.
- Animals as teachers: A great gaming site for kids that is created with the help of National Geographic, Animal Jam teaches children about animals, ecology, and the importance of teamwork as they explore an exciting virtual world populated by many different species.
- The practice of patience: While you’ll never capture the attention of children by telling them that they will learn patience from a game, Stop Motion Studio can help accomplish this (often) seemingly impossible goal. Kids learn to make their own stop-motion animations and, in the process, find that patience and persistence can be rewarding.
- Straight-up games: Other games fall into the category of pure entertainment, but that doesn’t mean that kids can’t learn while they go on an epic adventure. There is often an opportunity to improve teamwork, understand fair and respectful competition, and engage in critical thinking and problem-solving.
Parental Guidance and Controls
No matter the category, it is important to screen games to ensure that content is age-appropriate, as well as to eliminate those games that, while educationally excellent, require more parental assistance than you have time for. An otherwise excellent game might require too much reading for your preschooler, for example.
With many games or gaming systems, you can also enable parental controls that allow you to lock children out of certain games, limit the content they are able to access and ensure that your child’s personal information is not accessible to others. For those dealing with children who have behavioral issues, you can also find parental coaching programs that will work with you to establish healthy communication and boundaries with regard to gaming.
Using computers and smartphones is a way of life now, even for small children. Smart parents are discovering how to navigate the world of games and gaming so that they can help their kids have fun and learn something valuable along the way.
Jenna Sherman created Parent-Leaders to be all about what parents can do to make sure their children grow up to be strong, independent, successful adults. By providing a collection of valuable, up-to-date, authoritative resources, she hopes to help other parents acquire the skills they need to raise future leaders. Jenna is mom to three children — two girls and a boy.