Despite our dismay in how much of a presence computers have in our kids’ lives (in all senses of the word), it is an unavoidable part of our evolution that you simply cannot ignore.
We are in no position to stop the trend of increasingly stronger human-PC synergy, but we can show our kids what computers are for. We can exemplify who serves who and who is in control of the situation. We should not allow PCs become our masters, but we can take a lot from them to make out everyday lives better, without selling your soul and losing the ability to communicate in real life.
All in all, if you cannot control a process, lead it or steer it into the right direction. Everything is in our hands!
Let’s shelf that topic for now and return to the topic of computers – in all of its multidimensional meaning.
Today, there is hardly a family without a tablet. Kids are just crazy about tablets and gladly consume any entertaining content they are able to lay their little hands on.
It’s understandable that the content may vary – many parents faced the situation when some games caused hysteria, apathy, entrancement, aggression, violence, which at times resulted in panic attacks, sleepless nights and other types of instant mental disorders (which, when experienced regularly, may become inveterate).
Your kids cannot be left alone on this dangerous platform without an experienced guide. We can and should filter and measure content for it to truly serve the purpose of multidimensional development of your children and help them in the process of self-actualization.
In quest for a treasure
I fell in love with quests back in ’80s when my friends and I were playing Space Quest, King’s Quest and other titles by Sierra Online like mad. I vividly remember, by the way, that this game prompted me to learn English and teachers were just raving about my vocabulary.
Unfortunately, Sierra is no more, but human nature cannot change: there has to be motivation for achievement, and quests have this in abundance. The curiosity (“So, what’s next?”) urges the brain to work, seeking solutions and developing new skills.
To paraphrase Michael Douglas’ character in Wall Street, “Curiosity is good, curiosity works”. Curiosity is the strongest driver of the child’s development, which should be by all means leveraged.
There are a bunch of mobile quests. My recent discovery is Machinarium (h/t Serge Malenkovich). A beautifully crafted world, funny characters, witty missions, a straightforward good-evil paradigm, good cause – it has it all.
Tactile and visual perception
Another thing you should consider is not the game itself, but the developer. Toca Boca is the company behind dozens of mobile games crafted specifically for boosting cognitive abilities in children regardless of age.
I vividly remember when my two-year old son played Toca Hair Salon and showed me a control gesture completely unknown to me. I saw him doing haircuts to characters, talking to them, and then – wham! – with some gracious gesture he got back to the home screen. Wait, can you show me once again? I did not know how to do this, really! And no one could have taught this to my son! I still don’t understand how it happened – maybe just out of sheer magic of a truly intuitive interface.