Video Games for Kids You Can Live With
Want a game that challenges your kids while they play? Try one of these.
Video games for kids is a hotly debated topic. How much screen time is too much? Are games rotting your kids’ little brains, or helping them learn crucial skills? Whether you let your kids play is up to you, but if you decide the answer is yes, a little research is in order.
Use a site like Commonsense Media for reviews that rate games on educational value, ease of play, violence and scariness, sexy stuff, language, consumerism, and drinking/drugs/smoking. Here’s a list to get you started of games that you can feel good about.
For ages 3-5
To introduce preschoolers to shapes, there’s not a cuter app than Doodlemath Shapes. It goes beyond identifying shapes to drawing them and seeing how they fit together with others. Adorable animations make it super fun for kids.
A game that encourages kids to think creatively while learning some basic logic and physics concepts, Thinkrolls challenges kids to simply get the to end of the puzzle using problem solving.
This game is best for the littlest players! Nickelodeon Fit encourages a healthy lifestyle by offering your children a fun way to get up and move around. This game appeals most to children aged 3-6. Their favorite characters help them learn new exercises as they move along with the game. Characters demonstrate and shout out directions, so no reading is involved!
For ages 6-9
For the kid who loves cartoons and to make his own stories, Toontastic is it. In this game, the players can choose from a wide selection of characters and locations to create a story. Recording voice allows players to narrate and the app saves it all as a video.
Solving math puzzles enables players to explore the town, meeting characters along the way. A great way to get in some math practice and still have some fun.
This is perfect for animal lovers. This game allows you to build and manage your own zoo utilizing strategy skills while learning about new animals. If managing is a bit too much, then you can simply build and observe in your zoo. Many children enjoy using creative skills to build a space for their animals and walking through their virtual animal kingdom. Available for Xbox One and PC.
Some parents might want to wait until their kids are a little older, but it’s a safe bet that by first grade, at least one of your child’s classmates will be playing this wildly popular game. There are multiple formats (the PC/Mac version is keyboard- and mouse-based, while the tablet app is all touch), and different modes (creative, survival, story). There’s a growing sense that Minecraft can be good for kids, by introducing them to some of the concepts behind computer coding. But they just like the swords.
This free app, developed by MIT computer scientists, is a basic animation app that brings computer coding to the snap-and-go level. It’s like catnip for creative kids.
With some absolutely adorable characters, children will navigate through a virtual world solving puzzles and meeting new friends along the way. There are many opportunities to utilize strategy and thinking skills throughout this unique and mystical game!
This series of video games has an accomplished archaeologist as the main character who sleuths his way through different locations. Solving series of puzzles and brain teasers brings players closer solving the mystery.
The toy that engages kids but doesn’t drive parents nuts is a video game that does the same. With the familiar characters, great story lines, jokes for kids, and pop culture references for adults (for when they want to play with the kids), there’s plenty to love. With tie-ins to the Ninjago, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings stories, it’s a good way to get kids to interact with the tales they already know and love.
If your child liked Scratch Jr., this is the next gateway to learning coding. It’s keyboard-based and lots of fun, and there’s a whole world to collaborate with.
Get up and get physical with this dance game that has classic songs that parents will remember and modern hits kids will know. Multiple levels of difficulty means that even the most uncoordinated members of the family will be able to play and have fun together. Because sometimes it’s nice to do something silly together.
If your kids have moved on from Jake and the Neverland Pirates to Jack Sparrow, this is the game for you. This dynamic game lets you build ships, battle pirates, and explore the complexities of life at sea, combining strategy and adventure.
Bianca DiPaolo and Becki Melchione contributed to this article.
Photograph via Canva.