When I was growing up, I owned a Nintendo Game Boy. Swapping games and comparing high scores with friends was all the rage in an ultimate attempt for one-upmanship. As I recount the games I had and played with, I recall many that provided a lot of fun but none that provided development or educational content.
Thankfully, times have moved on in handheld gaming and there are now many games that are universally suitable or even designed specifically for younger children. But do these games provide a positive impact on children’s education? There have been various research and debates on this topic. My personal opinion is that I believe handheld gaming consoles can be beneficial to children. There are a multitude of games out there that are fun and educational, improving reading, writing, spelling, maths, logic puzzle problem solving and geometry.
The key though is choosing the right games. They should be age-appropriate – check the age rating if there is one. Where possible, review the games for yourself, either in a store or borrow a friends if they have a copy. If not, then check online reviews, paying particular attention to reviews from parents with children of a similar age.
It goes without saying, that the more you know your child the easier it will be to choose an appropriate game for them. It doesn’t always have to be puzzle brain training games either, as games with heroic role models that promote teamwork and perseverance can also be beneficial. If you are not buying the game for your own child, then speak with the parent/guardian of the child to determine what they would deem appropriate.
When I allow my children to play any new video games I will test it beforehand. But once I let them loose on it, I will also watch them play it through as it’s obviously helpful for them if they get stuck but more importantly, they are able to consolidate the knowledge gained by explaining to me what they are doing. I will also ensure they don’t spend too long playing these to avoid any potential physical impact and also to ensure we spend time doing other things, such as riding bikes, playing in the park, painting, etc.
Would you / do you allow your children to play handheld gaming consoles? If so, what types of games do you allow? Is it purely for fun and killing time or do you look for games with educational content?