Apps and video games can be more than just a fun way to pass time. They can also be educational tools to help your child build skills and compensate for weaknesses. Here are some things to consider as you look for video games and apps that can help with learning and attention issues.
What’s the purpose of the game?
Why is your child playing the game or using the app? There isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question, by the way. Just keep in mind that games and apps that help with academics or class assignments are often different from “just for fun” games. So if you use video games as part of a reward system, those games should be fun and not feel like an extension of homework.
What’s the context?
Consider how the games and apps you’re looking for support other aspects of what your child is learning. What skills does your child already have? Will the game allow your child to practice or build on those skills?
For example, if your child is learning addition in school, a game that allows for more addition practice is probably better than one that focuses on a new math skill, like multiplication. Knowing the skills your child needs to work on (such as math facts or rhyming) can help you look for a game that reinforces those skills.
How challenging is the game?
Educational games can be a fun way to practice problem-solving and other skills. The ideal games will be challenging enough to keep him from getting bored but not so challenging that frustration leads him to give up.
Good educational apps and games gradually expect more of your child as the game progresses or new levels are reached. They also allow your child to be in control of the learning experience by featuring open-ended questions and providing an opportunity to explore.
What’s the source of the game?
Knowing who makes a game or app can be helpful. Trusted brands are more likely to feature good role models for kids and are less likely to have inappropriate language or in-game ads.
If you’re not sure about the content of a game or app, Common Sense Media provides detailed reviews. The reviews mention the learning opportunities built into each game or app and include ratings for things like “ease of play” and “violence and scariness.”
What’s the limit?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises parents to avoid screen media entirely for kids under age 2. For older kids, the AAP recommends limiting the entertainment time spent on mobile devices or computers to an hour or two a day. This means that as you’re looking for games and apps, it’s important to help your child maintain a healthy balance between screen time for entertainment and for educational use.
What’s the next step?
Talk to your child’s teacher about games and apps that can help reinforce what he’s learning in class. Tech Finder can also help you search for appropriate games and apps based on your child’s age, learning issues and type of electronic device.