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Playing Baby Computer Games – The New Parent-Child Tradition?
Imagine cuddling up with your little one to look at a picture book together that is interactive, musical, responsive and talks to you?
This is the experience experienced by people who engage in that relatively new pastime – playing computer games with young children.
Jumpstart’s Knowledge Adventure calls it “lapwear,” Kiddies Games’ logo is “hop on the lap and tap,” and Sesame Street’s “Baby and Me” opens with an animation of a baby jumping on Daddy Monster’s lap to play. computer. Playing computer games with your baby is encouraged as a fun activity that a child and their caregiver can share together. And rightly so, for whatever the reason, physical, loving intimacy is an important factor that is essential for children’s healthy intellectual, emotional, and physical development.
Reading a bedtime story to a curious toddler is a tradition in many homes. As the children get older, this can be replaced by watching TV together. Our parents’ families used to listen to the radio together. Playing on the computer with a child can become a new kind of family tradition. Home computers and the Internet are entering more and more homes. Some parents use computers in their work and are happy to share computers with their children for fun activities. Other parents want their children to be computer literate. Well-designed, interactive, educational computer games engage children as much as television and are more educational than TV because they encourage the child to interact and think rather than passively watch and listen. These are the reasons for the growing popularity of toddler computer software. Although a relatively small industry, software for children is said to be a very fast growing industry.
What types of computer software are available for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers? The website has free games and there are downloads and CDROM software that you can purchase. Most are software games for this age group, but computer story books also exist. Awesome websites that offer free games many of which are suitable for preschoolers (preschoolers are able to click directed with a mouse) are:
Great free sites for kids (whose skills are limited to playing the keyboard) are:
The CDROM or download software you buy is better than free internet games. The games are generally great (more graphics, more music, more engaging games for older kids) and the software takes over the entire screen, which is more suitable for very young children who click anywhere and everywhere on the screen. Some well-known manufacturers are:
Reader Rabbit software from http://www.learningcompany.com
Jumpstart software from http://www.knowledgeadventure.com
Fisher-Price Software from http://www.knowledgeadventure.com
Sesame Street Software from http://www.encoresoftware.com or http://www.amazon.com
Computer game software for this age group makes a sincere effort to be educationally appropriate. To check their effectiveness for your child, try them out with your child. If your child thinks it’s fun, it’s probably educational. For a child, fun means that the game responds in some way to random keyboard presses and mouse clicks, and that the game continues in a positive way even when there is no input from the child. Preschoolers may need more challenge or more educational content, but the game should always be designed to be fun, positive, and self-correcting when the child doesn’t get the answer right. At this age, it is more important that computer games contribute positively to self-esteem than honestly correcting wrong answers to academic concepts that the child will learn later on. KiddiesGames.com Software is careful to comply with these rules.
What kinds of skills do children learn by playing computer games? Obviously, computer software is not suitable for practicing gross motor or even fine motor skills. However, shapes, sounds, cause and effect, identifying and naming things (such as objects and colors), expanding vocabulary, language concepts, letter shapes and numbers, counting, pattern recognition, observing details and word formation. At KiddiesGames, we try to offer games for kids that are out of the ordinary, such as foreign language exposure and practicing telephone positions for emergency dialing. The reactivity and interactivity of computer software is of course superior to books and may even be superior to toys, especially in the area of language. Children’s computer games are also cited as excellent resources for children with special educational needs, because such games are simple, fun, bright, patient, controlled by the child, and allow the child to make things happen.
The official recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics at http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics%3B107/2/423 is to “avoid television viewing for children younger than 2 years and encourage more interactive talking, playing , activities that promote proper brain development such as singing and reading together. This advice is given to keep children away from computers. However, well-designed infant software actually encourages the best activities of “talking, playing, singing and reading together”. By carrying out the play activities proposed by the computer game, the caregiver is actually prompted with a framework or script to carry out “talking, playing, singing and reading” activities with the child. Experts are now saying that computer games for toddlers should not replace toys and blocks and books and should not be used as electronic babysitters, another legitimate toy source. For example, the Hawaii State Health Department’s summer 2004 newsletter [http://www.hawaii.gov/health/family-child-health/eis/summer2004] Encourages playing with lapware. The emphasis is not on acquiring measurable skills or getting right answers, but on the child’s open-ended exploration – which is another way of saying “having fun”. Children are programmed to learn and practice what they have learned through play and fun.
Playing computer games with your little one is still not a family tradition. However, it is an enjoyable, sharing activity that is becoming more and more popular.
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