The best 5 online educational games for kids

If you’re going to allow your kids daily screen time, make it worthwhile with our expert-approved online educational games for kids. By Tammy Jacks

Insights from a series of reports by Common Sense Media (a US-based non-profit organisation dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology), shows that, on average, American children aged between 0 and eight years use screen media for an average of two hours and 19 minutes each day.

Children under the age of two spend about 42 minutes, children ages two to four years spend two hours and 40 minutes, and kids ages five to eight spend nearly three hours with screen media daily.

About 35% of children’s screen time is spent with a mobile device, compared to 4% in 2011.

Although these findings are US specific, there’s no doubt that children (including those in South Africa) are spending plenty of time behind a screen. While this might not be ideal, there are ways to encourage better quality screen time for your kids. For example, engaging, educational games are far better for your child than pure entertainment in the form of movies and TV shows.

ALSO SEE: Why is screen time such a big deal?

In 2016, the American Academy of Paediatrics revised their screen time guidelines in a report entitled, “Media and Young Minds”. Here are some important points to consider:

  • For children aged 18 to 24 months, choose high-quality programming and use media with your child.
  • For children aged two to five years, limit screen use to one hour per day of high-quality programming and help them understand what they are seeing. Teach them how to apply what they learn to the world around them.
  • Monitor children’s media content and what apps are used or downloaded. Test all apps before your child uses them, play together, and ask your child questions about the game.

ALSO SEE: 5 benefits of parental control apps and why you need to install these

With these points in mind, digital marketing expert and mom Yvette Adams says there are many apps for kids that are loads of fun, while also being educational for your child. The aim is to choose games that are challenging, engaging and enhance the senses.

Here are our top 5 online educational games that are great for learning minds:

 Peek-A- Zoo by Duck Duck Moose, free on iOS

This game helps children to identify and learn a wide range of animal names such as panda, penguin, seal, chicken, cat, cow and alligator. Your child will not only learn about the sounds the animals make, they’ll also learn what the animals do (wag their tales), as well as how they’re feeling.

Bugs and Buttons, R41.99, Google Play Store

In this app, you’ll find 18 fun, engaging games for kids, which makes it well worth the price. The games are interactive (with touch, drag and drop functions), plus there’s music and loads of little bugs to keep your child engaged with each activity. The games are also age-appropriate and become harder or easier based on how many mistakes your child makes.

Toca Hair Salon 3, R59.99, Google Play Store

Let your child run her own hair salon and have the chance to cut, style and blow-dry six little characters’ hair. This app allows kids to use their imaginations to create the hair styles they want on different people. Plus, they learn which tools to use to create different looks. Ideal for boys and girls.

Tiny Tiger and Friends, free on iOS

This app is ideal for younger kids just starting to use a tablet or smart phone as it doesn’t require too much concentration and is fairly simple. The focus of this game is to encourage your child to use her imagination and go on a journey with tiger, hippo and monkey, and help them complete various tasks.

Each activity is designed to teach your child something valuable, using the animals as characters. For example, kids can create an outfit for their animal, play Peek-A-Boo, or Poke A Nose, where you have to poke as many noses as possible before time runs out. Sounds simple, but it is very engaging for little ones.

Beck and Bo: Toddler First Words, R55.99, Google Play Store

This award-winning app incorporates everything little one’s love. It’s an interactive game, complete with puzzles and activities. Kids are invited to build beautiful, animated scenes like a jungle, beach or grocery, by identifying objects, characters and animals. Each scene is like a puzzle where kids get the chance to drag and drop whatever they want to create the adventure with the animals of their choice. The game is full of music, sounds and words to encourage children to listen and learn.

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