Leading health organizations are warning about the possibility of video game addiction.
The World Health Organization has included it in the latest edition of its reference book of health disorders, while the American Psychiatric Association's book offers warning signs but does not yet list it as an addiction. So parents might wonder whether any gaming is safe for their kids.
If you follow American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for limiting daily screen time, many games and apps can help with learning, particularly for kids with certain developmental problems.
Understood.org is a nonprofit organization that offers ideas and information to help children with learning and attention issues. Its Tech Finder can point parents to specific apps and games that nearly every child could benefit from. From a dropdown menu, you enter your child's grade and the specific skill he or she would like to build on, such as reading, writing and math; attention and organization; social and motor skills; and speech and listening comprehension. Tech Finder then gives you a list of fun and educational games and apps to try.
The site also offers tips for choosing a game or app. In addition to engaging your child by being fun to play, it should be challenging enough to prevent boredom but not so much so that your child gets frustrated from a lack of progress. The level of challenge should increase gradually as your child progresses.
Good choices allow your child to be in control of the learning experience with open-ended questions and opportunities to explore. To help you refine the choices Tech Finder provides, Understood.org suggests reading both the manufacturers' descriptions and users' reviews.
It's also a good idea to discuss possible options with your child's teacher and to be sure any apps or games are targeting the areas with the greatest need for improvement.
Understood.org has much more on choosing the right learning apps and video games for your child's needs.