Kids love video games, but most such games have little or no educational value and many even glorify violence. So it’s no surprise that parents often put severe limits on the types of games their kids can play and how often and long they can play them.
That’s not to say that all video games are bad. Many educational toy makers and children’s book publishers have used the popularity of video games to their advantage and created educational computer games. Kids find these fun and entertaining and adults like them because they teach kids new things and reinforce what they are learning in school.
Computer Games for Preschoolers
In this the “Information Age”, it is becoming increasingly important for children to become comfortable with computers when they are young. Computer games are available for kids as young as preschool age. While your child probably won’t be able to do much typing at that age, you can help her learn how to use a mouse. And that is all that most games aimed at young children require.
Preschoolers can play games that help them learn the alphabet, numbers, shapes and colors. Some games help a child learn to match objects or develop early phonics skills. These games serve a dual purpose of educating your child about the subject at hand and getting her comfortable with the computer.
Computer Games for Grade Schoolers
Once your child starts school, computer games can help her grasp concepts that she is having trouble with in school in a fun and pressure-free way. Finding educational games that feature her favorite cartoon characters will keep her interested, and she may not even realize just how much she is learning. If you find a game that allows two players to compete, you or a brother or sister could play along with her to provide some lighthearted competition.
Those who are having trouble with reading or math often find computer games particularly useful. Games that introduce phonics, addition and subtraction are plentiful. The key is to find a game that will keep your child’s attention while focusing on the specific things she is having trouble with.
How Much Is Too Much?
Although educational computer games are good for children they should still be used in moderation. Sitting in front of a computer playing the same game for hours on end will not benefit your child. She needs to participate in physical activity and non-electronic educational activities as well.
Opinions vary, but a half hour to an hour a day is a good rule of thumb for video game limits. There’s no point in pushing your child to play every day, either. If she doesn’t want to play, then requiring her to do so may cause her to dislike the game and defeat the purpose of it.
Computer games are a fun way to help your child learn new things and do better in school. When used in moderation, they can supplement other teaching methods nicely. Providing appropriate games and letting your child decide when to play while setting time limits will maximize the benefits of these great educational resources.