True or false: Too much time on the computer will turn your child’s brain to mush. The answer? Both and neither. Any parent will tell you that one of the trickiest aspects of parenthood these days is navigating how to raise a child in the era of technology. Unfortunately, you really can’t micromanage everything your child consumes on a daily basis, but you can point them in the right direction. For example, you might not let your 9 year old have social media (fair), but you can grant them extra time on the computer if they’re playing kids computer games that get a parental stamp of approval.
Ah, computer games. Remember those? Shiny discs you used to pop into the computer, fictional storylines you’d lose yourself in before Facebook or, better yet, MySpace, was a thing. While some computer games are designed for sheer entertainment, others are designed with children in mind so that they can embark on digitized adventures that actually teach them something.
From hiking the Oregon Trail to fighting alien dictatorships, the best kids’ computer games are entertaining and have important life lessons and skills embedded in the storyline. These are some of the best kids’ computer games you’ll find these days — they’re oldies but goodies your kids will have fun playing, and you’ll feel good knowing their time spent on the computer isn’t time wasted.
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1. The Learning Company Oregon Trail 5th Edition
Is your child fascinated with the wild west? Oregon Trail invites children nine years and older to blaze the trail in true pioneer style. Along the way they’ll encounter settlers from all different backgrounds — Irish, African American, Native American and more — traverse rapid waters, hunt, fish and search for food, piecing together their own historic adventure. The game takes them from the banks of the great Mississippi to the Willamette Valley, with seasoned trader Captain Jed Freedman to guide them. It’s equal parts interactive history lesson and problem solving activity, so you won’t mind giving your kiddo the OK to play for an extra few minutes.
2. Kid’s Typing Bundle
Get your kid a head start on their typing skills with this kid-approved typing computer game set that’ll make learning a breeze. This bundle includes two games, one for kids ages 5-7 and one for kids 8-12. The first is Disney-themed, so it’s great motivation for your little Mouseketeer. The second is just as fun, but geared for older kids. Each game has step-by-step instructions and includes motivational support that’ll encourage them to learn this essential life skill.
3. Nancy Drew: The Phantom of Venice
If you have a mini detective on your hands, they won’t be able to stop playing this action-packed game. Filled with plenty of challenging obstacles to trace the phantom, this game will engage your child’s problem-solving skills. Spy on suspects and collect clues to solve the crime before anyone else. Best for older kids, this one is sure to keep them on their toes.
4. Roblox Coding
More and more kids are getting into coding—and it’s easy to see why! it’s fun, challenging, and a hands-on experience that teaches them valuable problem-solving skills. This engaging coding game for kids 8 and up offers 40 hours of coding lessons and even live mentoring assistance when your kiddo is stuck. They’ll learn to code nine fun games in this course, and it’s self-paces so they can learn on their own time.
5. Jumpstart Kindergarten
Starting kindergarten is a big life event for kids, so get them a head start so they’re ready for their first day with this interactive computer game. Best for ages 4-6, this fun game teaches them math, reading, science, spelling, and more through games, activities, and even songs that’ll make learning a breeze.