Today, computer and video games outsell almost every other type of toy at toy stores. Most children play computer or video games somewhere – if not in arcades and internet cafes, maybe at home or friends’ homes. The computer game industry is a billion-dollar industry. In many homes, it is also a key point of tension.
Should You Be Worried?
Most childcare and education experts agree that parents should be worried about the computer games their children play. While most children enjoy playing computer games, these toys are not always useful or appropriate for children. In the best of circumstances, games take children away from schoolwork and physical activities. At worst, many games give children less-than-ideal messages about violence, society, and advertising products. Many computer games have little educational value.
Computer games also have been linked to some serious physical problems in children. Some experts have blamed computer games and video games for increased rates of obesity among children. Studies have shown that children also risk repetitive strain injury (RSI) when playing computer games.
You will also want to create an ergonomically correct computer station for your child. Even if your child uses the computer for less than an hour a day, ensure that your child has a comfortable, child-sized chair to use.
What Can You Do?
Experts suggest that educational games are not only a more age-appropriate alternative to violent computer games, but studies show that computer games with educational content can help build skills such as math, vocabulary, writing, geography, mapping, thinking, memory, science, and other skills needed for success in school. Some educators claim that computer games put play back into learning and encourage children to learn even after school and playtime.
Educational computer games have many benefits. They are not very expensive but can often help your child with difficult areas in school. For example, if your child is having difficulty learning to read, computer games can help improve your child’s reading skills as part of a game. Your child will not feel discouraged and may even see reading as fun.
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s are aimed at younger children, but many software manufacturers today also develop good instructional content for older children. One problem that many parents have is getting children – and especially older children – to even try educational computer games.
If your children already love computer games, simply banning games can feel like a punishment. Children may resist having their entertainment taken away from them. A better alternative may be to use computer games to promote learning by selecting from the educational computer games available. Educational computer games are meant to develop math, reasoning, reading, and word skills. They are also designed to be fun so that children enjoy playing these games.
To bring educational computer games successfully into your home, you need to set up a system that works. First, you must find educational software that your children will enjoy. Then, you will have to suggest these games to your children. Many parents have found that linking rewards to the educational game works wonders. For example, if children can get a certain amount of points in a word game or make a certain level of progress in a math game, they can be given small treats or prizes. This will help encourage children to enjoy and stick with them more. Having a parent play a game with young children can be rewarding. For older children, prizes and rewards often work best.