When your child becomes interested in computer games, take some time and start playing with him. Playing together is fun and provides information about what the daughter or son likes and what makes them happy. If you take part, you will understand what this game is and notice if it is appropriate for the children’s age. From their reaction to the game, you can find out what they especially value and what attracts or repels them in the game.
When can a child be allowed to play on a computer, tablet or mobile phone?
The youngest children
There are apps for 2-year-olds. Indeed, kids can already manage these programs on a mobile phone or tablet. But such actions cannot be called competent. For example, a kid does not understand what advertising is, how dangerous it can be. Besides, the digital world focuses on other, more critical aspects of learning for the little ones: knowing their own body, motor skills, singing, making crafts or climbing.
Preschool children (4 to 5 years old)
Young children can certainly play on the computer – but only age-appropriate games. The time spent in front of the screen should be reduced to 30 minutes a day, which is quite enough. If possible, the child should not play alone, but with the parents.
Children from 6 to 12 years old
The basic requirement for every computer game is compliance with age ratings and age recommendations.
Parents need to consider whether their child is playing together on the family computer or alone on a smartphone? It’s easy to avoid parental control from mobile devices. It is recommended to use a child’s own devices with Internet access (smartphone and tablet) no earlier than in elementary school. And only if clear rules about the timing and safety of behaviour were agreed upon and learned.
How can parents recognize safe, age-appropriate games?
In addition to the child’s preferences, parents should pay attention to the following aspects when choosing games:
Protection of minors: age restrictions
Different age categories can be found on the packaging, on the game download page, or in the game app:
- USK marking
- PEGI marking
- age dating in stores
Such designations provide an assessment of whether the game contains age-appropriate content. However, they do not give any information about the game properties: many computer games are created “for children from 0 years old”, but three-year-old children can hardly master them: for example, car races or football simulators.
Security Aspect: Data Protection, Advertising and In-App Purchases
Many applications do not process user data properly: in some cases, during the installation of computer games for children on the mobile phone or tablet, data is already transferred, that is not necessary for the actual functions, such as location or device number. By the way, in good children’s games, such information is not requested!
The pop-up advertisements disrupt the gameplay. Young children especially enjoy pushing unknown buttons – and in the worst case, they expose you to unnecessary costs.
Buying add-ons (items, levels, etc.) in a game app or online PC game can be costly. Make sure there are no such pitfalls in the game.
Quality: what makes a good child’s play?
You can use the following criteria as a guide for judging the quality of the game. Not every computer game, not every game application meets all the requirements. Therefore, you should decide what is important to you in the game.
A good game offers:
- Convenient management. It can be operated intuitively; the instructions for it are easy and understandable. The game is simple, with clear navigation.
- A help function that provides targeted support in the right place, rather than just providing generic text.
- High quality and consistent use of sound, speech and music. For example, good speakers, music can be turned on and off, creating an atmosphere through sounds.
- Different levels of difficulty for your children to progress according to their developmental level and age. If you have passed an easy level, you can go through the next, more difficult one.
- High replayability, that is, the interestingness of the game when you replay it: a variety of separate game zones or levels.
- The ability to play with several players or with each other (“multiplayer mode”). But beware: if the game allows kids to play and interact with strangers online, you need to keep an eye out.
How to find suitable computer games for children?
There are some good game guides on the internet for computers, tablets, and smartphones. There are usually recommendations for playability and quality of play for specific age groups in addition to the age rating. The evaluations and ratings also provide a good indication of successful games.
Checklist: gaming applications and online games
Pay attention to the following:
- what apps your child uses. The children should only download games with their father or mother. Follow the rule of being close to your children when they sign up and then log in for the first time;
- your children do not download or play games on the device that are not intended for their age;
- the child does not have unsecured access to Google or Apple stores;
- children only use applications and online games that work without an Internet connection and without accompanying chats;
- the child does not receive aggressive ads and in-app purchases;
- the game is not stressful and/or intimidating;
- the game does not encourage the child to keep playing – for example, using so-called push notifications. These are messages that appear on the smartphone when the application is closed. These notifications can be disabled in the settings: Settings – Applications – Application name – Notifications.