The internet technology has become the backbone of various industries such as banking, health, and especially education. Video games and kids learning apps are crucial tools that help children become active and participatory in the digital world. These online initiatives are their stepping stones in becoming digitally literate and proficient which are key values in overcoming professional hurdles later on. However, it isn’t all the time that kids benefit from video games and apps. Parents should be vigilant on the risks and dangers that lurk in the online world.
Here are some of the many factors every parent must consider in choosing video games and apps for their children:
The “What” and “Why”
Parents who have children who are constantly stuck on the screens of their laptops and smartphones should ask themselves these two basic questions – “What he/she is playing at?’ and “Why is he/she drawn to it?”
Basically, video games and apps are categorized into two – the ones that are educational in nature and those that are for pure entertainment (a total waste of your child’s time if you ask me). Learning videos and apps are designed as educational supplements and help children improve their academic developments. These online initiatives help fill in the learning gaps and setbacks children have been experiencing due to closed schools in this time of the pandemic. In other words, these are games that teach while keeping the children’s interest burning. Preschool learning games are a perfect example.
On the other hand, there are also games that are designed solely to entertain and nothing else. Some are child-friendly and there are others that contain violent themes that can significantly affect your child’s behavior and attitude later on. Although child-friendly games are harmless, it’s still like exposing your child to some screen time without something that you can conveniently recognize as a benefit in return. In other words, wasting time away with your permission.
Age-Appropriate Games and Apps
There is no video game or app that is suitable for all ages. In fact, they are rated and labelled accordingly by the Entertainment Software Rating Board. This is to make sure that subscribers and parents are very much aware of the content and theme of concerned games and apps. As much as possible, make sure that you keep a keen eye on those age ratings. Games that are marked “M” contain mature themes and elements that can be violent, sexual, and language abusive.
On the other hand, kids learning apps are also designed and developed for certain academic levels and ages. Choose educational apps that are appropriate for your child’s grade level. For advanced learning supplements, parents can have their children move a notch higher. What’s important is that your child has a full grasp on the main theme of these apps.
Length of Screen Time
Parents should be very much aware of how long their children have been playing video games and apps in a day. Unfortunately, this crucial factor is often overlooked and oftentimes, children enjoy the liberty of screen time day in and day out. According to the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics, digital screen time is a maximum of one hour a day for children ages 2-5. For children below two years old, digital screen time is strongly discouraged. Older children can enjoy relatively longer hours but it is highly recommended to still observe a limit of up to four hours maximum a day. The rule of thumb is that children should spend more time on physical play than on digital apps and games that potentially puts their overall health at risk.
For parents to effectively limit and monitor their children’s screen time, gaming consoles and computers should be stationed in the living room instead of the bedroom. Ground rules should also be developed and observed such as classes and homework first before playtime. This way, children are given the opportunity of developing self-discipline while enjoying some fair screen time due to their positive behavior and efforts.