There are an almost endless supply of educational games online for children and adults.
Educational games online allow children the opportunity to learn while they play. In a paper published on Generation Yes, a Web site dedicated to the success of youth and educators, educational games are games that attempt to teach school subjects to children ages five to 18. These subjects include math, history, language arts, science, geography, music and art. In contrast to educational games, video games designed to work on a specific gaming console like a Nintendo Wii or Xbox usually focus on entertainment and not education. Children can play online educational games on the Internet, and some games are even free. Kids can access online games with a computer or any other device that connects to the Internet.
When parents or children look for educational games online, they should keep in mind that not all Web sites work the same. What They Play, a Web Site founded by entertainment and industry veterans, reports that the gaming industry accounts for $18.8 billion in the entertainment industry. Even Web sites that offer free educational games online may provide this service by using advertising to earn income. The content on the Web site, the types of games available and the target age for players should all be factors that parents consider when searching for educational games online.
Protecting children from inappropriate content should be a main consideration for parents who want to use educational games online. Many educational game providers understand this and use the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) a guideline to determine the appropriate age for their online games. Games rated by ESRB as being appropriate for Everyone contain content appropriate for children ages six or older. A rating of Everyone 10+ qualifies as appropriate for children 10 or older, and a Teen rating provides content appropriate for children 13 years of age or older.
In addition to the rating system, parents might find it helpful to seek advice from educational sources on the Internet. Homeschool.com provides a list of the top 100 educational Web sites. It recommends Web sites with quizzes and games and divides the Web sites into main topics like math and science.
While the rating system can help consumers determine the age-appropriate level for educational games, educational games online may have other inappropriate things that the ESRB does not include. In some cases a Web site may provide the disclaimer Online Interactions not rated by the ESRB. This disclaimer usually refers to content on a Web site besides games. This content may be additional content like chats, texts, photos or user comments posted by other gamers. To help combat this, GamerDad, offers online reviews for educational games online. The ESRB and the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) hired GamerDad to write a PDF on how to implement security measures for children.
Educational games that help develop language art skills can include games which focus on grammar, spelling, literature, public speaking, creative thinking, journalism, vocabulary and writing. Web sites may list these categories differently depending on the target age for the children visiting the Web site. At the elementary school level, these games may fall under a category like words or reading and have titles like Spellaroo. More advanced Web Sites may target older children with categories like vocabulary or writing and have titles like Story Strips.
When it comes to math games, topics may begin with numbers for elementary children and move into more advanced concepts like controlling an online budget for middle school or high school children. As children get older, they can implement mathematical concepts into real life situations. Games geared toward middle school students take advantage of this and may implement math skills into other types of games. Whether kids know it or not, math concepts can include:
Another main category for most educational games online is social studies. As with other school-related subjects, social studies includes a wide variety of subcategories and should be age specific. This main topic covers careers, cultures, civil and human rights, political systems, government, economics and more. Online games might incorporate this topic by having gamers develop and manage communities, determine how to deal with gossip or learn about another culture. For elementary students, an online game might provide clues for students who must then identify the secret country. Depending on the Web site, games in this main category may involve emotional development or teach children how to identify and handle different emotions.
Art encompasses topics like dance, architecture, crafts, music, photography and visual arts like painting. Children in the elementary grades can enjoy games that work with colors. These games can teach kids the concept of primary and secondary colors. More advanced games might focus on being an art detective to identify which suspect stole a famous painting. Some online games focus on matching or creating rhythms and melodies. Parents interested in educational games online dealing with the arts may need to hook up speakers so kids can hear the music.
Educational games for health and fitness focus on teaching children about the body and how to take care of it. The topic covers things from life and death to body systems and senses. Parents can look for online games that target specific body parts like the teeth or they can search for more general topics. Some advanced online games may require gamers to track physical activity or compete in health challenges like eating more nutritious food. Younger children might prefer games that ask them to identify parts of the body or types of exercises.
In the fields of science, a gamer might come across games that deal with animals, agriculture, space, chemistry, ecology and energy. Young children can begin to explore science through games designed to teach them the planets or types of animals. Older children might find it more challenging to test their IQ or create a virtual environment for an animal
Children love to have fun and so they will often participate in online educational games because they are engaging and empowering. The result is a child who is learning and having fun at the same time.