Monday, November 30, 2020

Top Tips for Creating a Positive and Enriching Gaming Experience for Kids

 Today is an exciting first for my blog, I have a post written for you by a guest author! Jenna Sherman, from is sharing information about the best ways to make video games safe and educational for kids. I think the timing is perfect as I head into a Midwest winter of more time indoors and some school breaks.

Top Tips for Creating a Positive and Enriching Gaming Experience for Kids

guest post by Jenna Sherman

 Games have come a long, long way since we were children! These days, kids are playing video games online and in-school, in addition to having fun with them at home. This begs a few questions like, how do parents keep kids safe? And how can parents make games educational without spoiling all of the fun?


Safety Should Always Come First

 As the name implies, gaming should be fun for your family! Before we get into all that fun though, we need to get serious about safety. That’s because while gaming with friends and family can be a positive activity for your kids, it can also be a potentially dangerous one. Here are some of the top online gaming threats you need to know about:


     Cyber Bullying

     Privacy Issues

     Webcam Concerns

     In-game Purchases

     Online predators


Yikes! That’s a pretty scary list, right? But here’s the thing: you can protect your family by talking to them about the online security and safety rules you all should all be practicing. Let them know that it’s never okay to reveal private and personal information to people online. They should also feel comfortable alerting you to situations that just don’t feel right. And ‘don’t talk to strangers’ definitely still apply online!


Some Games Should Be Off-Limits

 Aside from just talking to your kids about gaming safety, you should also be aware of the games they’re playing. Sit down and play with them for a few minutes, so that you can be sure of the content they are being exposed to and whether it’s truly appropriate. For instance, you may think that Roblox is a safe bet for young kids, but some parents have reported some pretty disturbing experiences with this popular online game.


You can also use ESRB ratings to figure out which games are safe for younger players. But keep in mind that this system can be tricky to fully understand. Always do your own homework when it comes to specific titles. When in doubt, play a few rounds with your kids or solo.


But Some Games Can Be Educational

 Whew! By now you may be wondering whether you should let your kids play video games at all. We totally understand your concerns! But remember that playing games can have positive effects on your kids’ development and education. In fact, games have proven to be a real educational lifesaver for kids who are learning at home during the COVID-19 crisis. The subjects where kids can receive the most positive impacts of gaming include English, math, science, history, and even physical education.


Okay, but how can you wade through the endless titles to find the best educational gaming picks for your kids? Common Sense Media did the leg work for you and came up with this list of top titles for younger kids, including:


     Math Blaster Online

     Lifeboat to Mars

     Oregon Trail

     Art Academy


Screen Limits are Most Helpful for Younger Kids

 It’s also worth mentioning that setting screen limits can balance potential educational benefits with overall risks of gaming. For younger kids, this may mean limiting noneducational playtime to an hour or less each day. Then you can increase screen limits as your little ones get older. Here are some additional screen rules to consider for your family:


     Turn screens off during mealtimes.

     Remove screens from bedrooms.

     Make proper use of parental controls.


If your kids still seem bored, you can always replace screens with a few top-recommended brain games! Many are simple enough for children to play on their own, but younger kids may need some help and guidance from you to get the hang of these educational board games. In fact, plan some fun family night around brain games or even video games! Your kids will love it!


Sure, letting your kids play video games can come with risks. But that’s anything in life, really. What’s important is that you talk to your kids about any potential dangers and remain vigilant in researching titles before you allow them. Then you can focus on fun instead of worry!


Photo Credit: Unsplash

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