Andy Robertson is family technology expert who has freelanced for national media outlets such as the BBC. He is driven to help fellow parents understand the potential benefits of gaming and how they can guide their children to healthy play.
In this article, he provides information for parents and carers to support them for when they are choosing and setting up video games for their children.
While there is a general understanding that playing Minecraft will help children learn skills similar to that of plugging together physical Lego, it can be hard to move beyond this to other educational benefits.
Video games are media. Because of this, they offer similar benefits to books, films, and music if you know where to look. I have worked with schools, teachers, parents, and carers to help them find games that not only suit their children, but also offer some unexpected beneficial outcomes.
With children spending more time playing games at the moment, there has never been a better time to leverage the learning power of many of the video games they play. Also, parents can steer children away from games that just soak up time without offering so much in return.
Before diving into some suggested games by age rating, it’s important that parents set up the technology appropriately. Ensure you have spent some time in the parent settings and family controls. You should specify how and if children can interact online, add a password for any spending, and set some boundaries on the amount of time they are playing.
A puzzle game that teaches young children the principles of algebra using dragons, fantasy creatures and boxes.
Release date: 09/05/2012
Platforms: Android, Mac, PC and iOS
Age: PEGI 3+
A find-the-item game that not only teaches observation and attention but also takes children on a journey through what life was like in different time periods.
Release date: 12/03/2020
Platforms: Android, Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and iOS
Genres: Creative and puzzle
Age: PEGI 7+
A building game like Minecraft, but here you have to consider the impact of what you chop down, burn or eat. It teaches children about the inter-dependency of the ecological world in a simple and accessible way.
Release date: 06/02/2018
Platforms: Mac and PC
Genres: Creative, Open World, Simulation and Strategy
Age: PEGI 7+
An adventure into an ancient culture that teaches children about how language develops and the importance of archaeology. They learn to construct a new language from fragments of text and in doing that, how words function.
Release date: 16/04/2019
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC and PlayStation 4
Genres: Adventure, narrative and puzzle
Age: PEGI 7+
A game about the experience of war as an everyday person. Teenagers solve puzzles and learn the stories of different characters to gain an emotive and engaging appreciation. It comes complete with library footage of the related history.
Release date: 25/06/2014, updated in 2018
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One
Genres: Action, adventure, narrative, platform and puzzle
Age: PEGI 12+
A complex puzzle game about chemical elements and how machines can be built to form different compounds. A mix of chemistry, maths and logic, this is a game that has a lot of educational benefits but is also a lot of fun when you solve a level.
Release date: 08/12/2017
Genres: Puzzle and simulation
Age: PEGI 12+
For further reading:
- Find more educational games on Family Video Game Database https://www.taminggaming.com/
- Learn about parental controls on AskAboutGames https://www.askaboutgames.com/
- Look up ratings on PEGI website https://pegi.info/
Understanding the impacts of online games
At National Online Safety, we are committed to keeping children safe online so that they can reap all the benefits of the internet without falling victim to online risks.
Alongside this, our member schools benefit from easy access to online safety courses, the latest webinars and a host of explainer videos that empower their staff to safeguard pupils against online risks while complying with their statutory duties.
Become a member and foster a successful approach to online safety within your whole-school community today.
Posted by Andy Robertson