Have you noticed that kids nowadays are always glued to their phones or playing video games instead of going outside and hanging out with the neighborhood children? It seems that good ol’ fashioned games like duck, duck, goose are a relic of the past. Kids have moved on to something bigger and better: technology. We’re seeing less and less of crayons, hula hoops, and mud pies and more and more of iPads, TVs, and video game consoles.
It’s the 21st century, and things are different now. However, don’t despair! This can actually be a good thing.
You know how they say that video games and other forms of technology turn your brain into mush? That’s not necessarily true. Technology can actually improve your cognitive skills.
Not counting TV, that is. If you put a young child in front of a TV, he vegs out. If you give him a smartphone, he’ll become proactive and figure out puzzles and fine-tune his motor skills. Smartphone apps can actually make your kid smarter and put him ahead of the learning curve.
A study conducted by PBS KIDS revealed that children who used smartphones had better vocabulary than those who didn’t. Smartphones have also been proven to improve a child’s work ethic and collaboration skills.
Does that mean you should download a bunch of child-oriented educational apps on your smartphone or tablet? Not necessarily. Some fun games can be valuable learning tools! For example, let’s look at…
Angry Birds is actually quite a great educational tool. It can teach children about physics and improve their problem solving skills. Angry Birds requires the user to think abstractly, and that can bring on so many benefits to a child’s cognitive development, including logistics, spatial skills, strategy, pattern recognition, mapping, and perseverance.
(Extra credit: check out one way a teacher extended his kids’ enthusiasm for Angry Birds into a fun classroom lesson that taught measurement, geometry, addition, skip counting and money on this YouTube video from Teacher Tipster.)
Who ever thought some pretty jewels could teach your child some great life skills? Well, it’s possible! A 2011 study by PopGames and a researcher at University of Massachusetts Amherst concluded that Bejeweled Blitz could improve one’s cognitive skills, namely rapid decision-making, conjunctive visual search skills, and reaction time.
Sudoku helps develop a child’s or a teenager’s deductive reasoning process. It’s the process in which you think ahead and track from cause to effect. It also helps improve the ability to solve problems, train the short-term memory and working memory, and develop pattern recognition.
This trivia game app is more suited for teenagers, because some of its questions are too complex for young children. Trivia games have been directly linked to cognitive development. They improve working memory, sharpen memorization skills, and encourage more knowledge in different areas.
Playing interactive games online or on the phone is a more educational experience than ever, so next time your child asks you if she could play Angry Birds, by all means go ahead and say yes. Who knows? This time, the game could teach her all about gravity!
Kate Simmons, our guest blogger, is an occasional blogger and journalist specializing in social media and education, currently pursuing studies at Colorado Technical University.