Embrace the Game

Let’s face it, if there’s ever a time to have to hunker down and keep your distance, now is perhaps one of the most ‘sanity saving’ times with the access many have to virtual worlds and different online opportunities.

Having that ‘quiet space’ in your day where your children and teens are enjoying time online or on screens has possibly never been more appreciated or needed!

If you’re caring for children in your bubble, there’s some salvation for your sanity.  Importantly, you can have a sense of confidence there’s learning value in some of their screen time, with some awesome games and sites available online (think Minecraft for example) .

Awesome because they’re more than ‘entertainment’, they’re helping to develop integral life skills and shape healthy emotional and social dispositions.

While nothing is ever guaranteed to be one hundred percent ‘safe’ from the ‘net nasties’, these platforms have been designed with children in mind. They’ve also been developed on the premise that strategy and problem solving are core to progression.

We know from research that resilience, optimism, and hopefulness also develop from opportunities and experiences where problem solving is required.  Outcomes help to re-position our emotions, build confidence in self, and positively influence our view of our/the world.

Simply Put |

(Disclaimer – I appreciate contexts can be and sometimes are more gnarly and complex than this)

We find ourselves in difficult positions or challenging places. We take stock of what’s happening. We look for options. We weigh up alternatives. We choose a course of action. We feel we have more control. We review the outcomes from our decisions. What worked well, what would be better next time. We feel more confident that we can get through. We get through. We are strengthened through the process for future challenges.

Right now, there’s numbers of great online games and sites developed specifically for children in mind. They require strategic thinking, reviewing and recalibration skills, collaboration, creativity, and a good dollop of trial and error. Opportunities for our children to develop integral dispositions and skills for life.

On the local landscape, Dan Milward and his great team have produced a super online site designed for children (we love it too!).  Check out Gamefroot, it requires creative and critical thinking in the world of coding and computational thinking.

Another website to dive into is Connected Camps – Learning Together Online.  Here you’ll find some great resources about Minecraft and a number of other super games / sites, and check out their Ten Fantastic Games With a Creative Mode, there’s some exciting options here.

Take a look at  DIY.org. There’s something for everyone here. Think Bunnings / Spotlight / PB Tech/ Music Planet, French Art Supplies for adults. This site is the virtual equivalent for children.

Within DIY.org, also explore Invent Your Own Machines. While there’s a cost involved in accessing the full suite within some of the games and sites within DIY.org, you can often download free versions or sign up for a trial period.

While this is a small selection of recommended sites, it’s important we consider the age and stage of our children, and any age restrictions (if classified in NZ these are legal restrictions) or age recommendations on sites/apps/games/ and media they’re consuming or engaging with.

Legal restrictions or age recommendations are applied based on types of content or engagement that may include themes around drugs, sex, violence, sexual violence, explicit language, suicide, self-harm etc.

Children are not yet equipped with the social, emotional and cognitive capabilities that are needed to manage many complex and nuanced situations. This includes complexities arising in apps and sites co-shared with older teens and adults.

Right now, there’s an increase of online bullying, scams, and predatory behaviour happening. Let’s ensure we know what our children are doing online, who they’re hanging out with, and how they’re doing.

Check they know what to do if something confronting, concerning, or upsetting occurs. Build those bridges of trust and support with your children so there’s a knowing that you’re their cheerleader and trusty port-of-call if something, anything happens online.  

Assure them they’ve done the right thing in coming to you.  Assure them you’re unlikely to take the tech off them (of course there’s times when this is the right thing to do), but together work through what’s happening, and how to move forward.

Dive into the recommended games and sites knowing they’re designed with children in mind, and that includes loads of fun, awesome learning and safety as a priority!

Embrace the game.