Most moms would scream so loud whenever they saw their kids in front of the computer. I understand where their concern is coming from. And, I am like most moms—I scream too, but I let my kids play whenever I’m not using my laptop.
My younger daughter knows I would take a break in the morning and afternoon and asked if she could watch YouTube or play games online. Of course, I would say yes, thinking that playing online games for 30 minutes to an hour has benefits.
If she intends to play after my work, which is usually 6 pm, I will time her playtime for up to one hour. Otherwise, I would not let her play.
Additionally, I would go to the website where I’d like her to play games, including her favorite dessert games. So I must visit websites with a selection of games I know she enjoys playing.
One perfect example is Solitaire.org. Besides solitaire and mahjong, the site offers hidden objects, matching, puzzles, words, and arcade games I let my daughters play.
My younger daughter loves Merge Cakes. You must open the food cover and merge two cakes to form a new recipe. It continues, progressing to the higher levels and adding more blocks as you play. It reminds me of Purble Place and My Boo: Virtual Pet Care Game.
I’m a sucker for solitaire games, primarily the classic and the pyramid. But I also enjoy playing word and Tetris-like games (called Letter Scramble and Tetra Blocks on the said site, respectively).
I specifically like the neon-colored blocks. But be careful; it could get overwhelming for some players due to photosensitivity.
I play on-site during lull times, usually when I’m done with work or if I need to have a break and be ‘elsewhere’ other than Google Docs or Sheets.
Don’t get me wrong. Of course, I know there are downsides to playing online games excessively (emphasis added). However, you cannot dismiss the fact that there are advantages to online gaming.
If you don’t believe me, please read on!
Benefits of playing online games
1) Improves reading and comprehension
While online games are not meant to replace books, playing boosts a child’s reading skills and comprehension. This is true especially for children struggling to read.
Studies claim this possibility since the kid is forced to figure out the instructions independently. So the child is left with no choice but to learn to read to understand how to play the game properly.
Please spare the judgment, but I also use this tactic to encourage my younger daughter to learn how to read.
2) Develops problem-solving skills
Online games are a challenge of their own. But, in their young minds, the more they tackle a problem, the better they become at finding a solution. This is how mindless games to puzzle, and mystery games can help develop your child’s problem-solving skills.
When a child plays a game that requires her to manage a city or build an empire from scratch, she practices her flexible thinking. She is compelled to plan so that every shop has a place in her neighborhood or that she can buy all the necessary boosters, for instance.
3) Enhances visual and spatial skills
Many online games use three-dimensional (3D) virtual technology. Children must navigate these 3D worlds to play the games and progress to the following levels. Without visual and spatial skills, navigating these environments would not be easy.
Nonetheless, such skills do not come in handy—these are improved little by little until the child becomes adept at understanding distance and space. Online games are an avenue where they can practice these skills.
4) Increases computer fluency
Yes, I know—some kids are way better than us at using smartphones, tablets, and even laptops. They are naturally curious, that’s why. They explore all the buttons until they know how to use them properly.
Playing online games also helps in this endeavor, improving their computing skills in the process. These skills are critical in this day and age.
5) Develops hand-eye coordination
While playing an online game, a child needs to use the keyboard or mouse and look at the screen. Therefore, the hands and eyes must be coordinated most of the playing time.
With this, playing games helps in the development of coordination. This is especially helpful to children struggling with proper coordination.
Choosing the suitable online games for your child
While at it, I guess it is also essential to learn how to choose suitable online games for your child. Just typing the term ‘the right online games’ makes me wonder: Are there really suitable games to let your kids play?
Here are some factors to look at.
Not all online games are created equal, meaning some games are purely for fun while others are for educational purposes. Think of it this way, if you are letting your child play after doing her homework, then let her play fun and creative online games. Give your child some slack, will you?
That’s unless she specifically asked for something ‘educational’ to carry on with the math or lesson.
Your child’s age is important when choosing a game for him or her. For instance, your 12-year-old would not be as thrilled as your 7-year-old when playing games with cute characters and easy tasks to accomplish.
Another related topic regarding maturity is skill level. Again, if your child is behind in reading, you might as well let her play video games or games with less text (less text, less reading). Then again, if your child is willing to go through reading the instructions, which I mention as a benefit of playing online games, then do so.
- Screen time
Experts agree that even if the online games are fun, creative, age- and skill-level-appropriate, or no matter how educational the games are, you still need to implement screen time rules.
Following expert recommendations, you want to build a healthy relationship with technology. And be consistent with the rules. So, if you say just one hour of shooting game, it must be an hour.
Here’s what I do so that my children and I’s expectations are aligned regarding screen time. Before handing the device or letting her sit on my laptop table, we discuss the limits, such as
- from what time to what time
- no opening of other websites
- stop means stop
- the punishment if she fails to obey the rules
Using the laptop, I can only monitor manually. However, I can easily set the time limit using Google’s Family Link if they use their gadgets.
Some online games allow interactions with other players. I am very particular about these games. I usually do not let my daughters play interactive online games unless they are playing with one another, not total strangers.
Also, I have a very strict rule about adding friends on social media—particularly friends they met while playing an online game.
Yes, there is a platform that allows players to exchange social profiles. I asked my children not to engage in those activities. I also screen their friend requests, accepting only people they/we know personally.
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