Give your child a happy, healthy and safe gaming experience

By | December 18, 2013 | Gear & Gadgets

Give your child a happy, healthy and safe gaming experience
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Has your child has been eyeing your tablet and think of it as their go-to gaming device? Instead of games like Grand Theft Auto 5, Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts, consider these age-appropriate alternatives:

Toddlers and younger kids

Make sure the tablet you allow your child to play with is equipped with a screen protector and bumpers. Once you’ve protected your devices from the inevitable “Oops, I dropped it, Mom,” or sticky fingers, I recommend you start out with games like A Day in the Zoo for your toddler, or Angry Birds for a slightly older child (though Angry Birds is great for all ages). If your kids like to move, consider motion-based games like Just Dance 2014 for the Wii, WiiU and Kinect. All of these games make it easy for everyone to have fun.

Ages six to twelve

At this point, your children should have refined their hand-eye coordination skills enough to master simple gamepad controls. For the younger kidlets, particularly boys, Skylanders is a great game that allows toy figurines to be placed on a pad that’s connected to your console. The Disney Infinity system (available for Wii, WiiU, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Nintendo 3DS, and PC) is another great example of this new gaming trend. If your child owns a Nintendo 3DS, games like Pokémon X or Pokémon Y and Animal Crossing: New Leaf are great choices. The point is, there are a host of these types of games available to your child. It’s just a matter of looking at the description and ESRB rating and then determining if it’s right for your child.

Other great games to consider include:

Teens

When evaluating games for your teen, consider the maturity of your child and a game’s age rating – which is there for a reason. Just because your child is 13 doesn’t mean he/she is mature enough to handle the adult content (nor should they be!) on websites and social media sites intended for adults. The same goes for video games. Don’t take the easy way out and buy your teen Grand Theft Auto V or Call of Duty just because all their friends have it. Do your research and find games that are rated T for Teen on a multitude of platforms. A quick stop at your local GameStop or Best Buy might surprise you.

Facebook games

Facebook has games, but that doesn’t mean all the games are okay for your child to play. In fact, it’s against Facebook’s Terms of Service for children (12 and under) to have a membership. That being said, at the end of the day the important point to drive home is that allowing your child to lie about their age in order to join sends the wrong message. Plus, Facebook is full of inappropriate content and people with whom your children should never be exposed. Youth-friendly social networks like Yoursphere.com, where there are hundreds of games to play, were made for the specific purpose of entertaining, educating and engaging your child in an age-appropriate online environment.

For more information on great games and apps, visit CommonSenseMedia.org.

Also read >> Keep your kids safe with a new tech gadget: Five things parents should do

What other age appropriate games would you recommend? Share with us below!

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Mary Kay Hoal

Mary Kay Hoal is a nationally recognized expert on children’s online safety and social media. She is the founder and president of Yoursphere Media Inc., which focuses on the family and publishes the kids’ social network Yoursphere.com – sign your kids up!  Mary Kay also offers parents Internet and social networking safety tips and information at YoursphereForParents.com. She has been profiled on CNN, BBC, E!, Fox & Friends, Lifetime TV and many others. Mary Kay is a part of the ABC 20/20 web avenger team as their family Internet-safety expert.

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