Kids, tweens, and even some preschoolers can be spotted with a hand-held video game these days. "Unfortunately, spending too much time playing console games alone can prevent kids from socializing with friends. At extremes, this could hinder their social skills," says Fred Howard, vice president of marketing for KingsIsle Entertainment, Inc., the makers of Wizard101.com. "Luckily, kids can continue to play games, but with the added bonus of social interaction in a secure environment through family-friendly massively multiplayer role-playing games."
Backing the idea that electronic games can be both fun and educational, schools have embraced the trend by bringing education computer games into the classroom. Now, even in Pre-K classes, kiddies are learning to match numbers, discover patters, and rhyme on the computer.
Finding online games that are safe and educational for your child can be as simple as using any major search engine, if you don't mind the legwork of researching the credibility and safety of each site before your child uses it. Simply type in "safe and education online games for kids" and research comments from parents.
Another great source is your child's school and teachers. Ask what they use or recommend that is appropriate for your kiddo's age group. Chances are more likely that these sites they recommend will be educational as well.
Finally, ask your local Mom's Club or Mom's Group, or scan parenting message boards online. The best testimonials can come from the parents of children in the same age group as yours. In fact, moms from our SheKnows message boards have some great ideas and kid-friendly online games they love. Check it out here!
Luckily, there are many good websites tailored to even the youngest of gamers with their safety in mind. For those who want to play along at home, here are a few good, safe, and education sources of online gaming for your future Einsteins:
Kids' Networks - Sites created by child-friendly networks like Disney (Disney.go.com) and PBS Kids Sprout (SproutOnline.com) can be an easy, safe, go-to sources for your kids' favorite games. The familiarity of the characters can make learning fun, and, the reputability of the sites give parents peace of mind.
ClubPenguin.com - Club Penguin is a virtual icy world, letting your child explore, be creative, and play games with their friends online. The site only allows pre-written statements for communicating, and even includes live moderators who monitor activity and conversations. The site also allows your youngster to chat with friends, but only with people he or she actually knows.
Webkinz.com - Webkinz are a plush pets, each with their own code that you can go online and enter into the website. The pets become virtual pets, allowing your child to care for, play with, and explore this colorful world. The site includes games that teach them to type, spell, and think logically. Chatting is also a feature of this online game, but chat is restricted to using words from a limited dictionary (no numbers, places, proper names, inappropriate language), keeping your youngster from giving out personal information.
NetSmartzKids.org - Developed by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® and Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the website is filled with age-appropriate activities to educate children ages 5 to 17 on how to stay safe on the Internet. In an effort to keep the NetSmartKids site safe and positive, the site does not link to any outside sources. Resources are available for parents, educators, and law enforcement to get the most out of the NetSmartKids experience.
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