By Deanna Hurn, Founder and Executive Director
Young people spend a lot of time immersed in videogames. Do you have a “screenager” in your house (a teenager always connected to a screen)? Even if your children haven’t reached the teen years, videogames might loom large in their world.
A Kaiser Family Foundation study found that children and teens spend on average nine hours a week playing video games, and an additional 41 hours in front of other screens, such as televisions, smart phones and tablets.
The good news is that video games can be instrumental in helping your young person learn. They can increase critical thinking skills, teach problem solving and encourage risk-taking. But videogames are like a box of chocolates.
And I don’t even mean “you never know what you’re gonna get.” (Although, that’s true, too. Keep an eye on how much blood and guts appear in your child’s favorite past-time. By all means, pull the plug on violence and gore.)
What I do mean is that playing too many video games is like eating too much chocolate. They’re both bad in excess.
(I know you don’t want to hear it, but chocolate can cause tooth decay, contains stress-inducing caffeine and includes trace amounts of lead. Ugh! Still, experts agree that eating chocolate in moderation is fine.)
The sweet spot for video gaming is less than an hour a day, according to a an Oxford University study. “Young people who indulged in a little video game-playing were associated with being better adjusted than those who had never played or those who were on video games for three hours or more.”
And if you want to use video games to help your children learn Math, so much the better. Here are my recommendations for Math websites with video games:
Cool Math Games
Just as its title implies, this website let’s students play dozens of cool games. From capturing treasure as a superhero to helping wrangle lost zoo animals back into their cages, the site offers creative ways to learn about numbers, shapes, fractions and more. Aimed at younger students. http://www.coolmath-games.com
Math Play Ground
The games on this website are grouped by categories, such as Math Games 1, Math Games 2, Adding, Multiplying, Pre-Algebra and Money. One video game featured a race track, where your car gains speed over other racers with each fraction problem solved.
Billed as the #1 internet education site for kids K-8th grade, Fun Brain features a wide range of educational games. In addition to Math, students can read comics and excerpts from age-appropriate books, such as the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series by Jeff Kinny.
If your children like computer games, this is the site for them. Topics range from addition and subtraction to Algebra, with an emphasis on having fun. The site is aimed at grades K-8th.
Math Game Time
An all-purpose site, Math Game Time offers more than videogames. You’ll find Math worksheets, cheat sheets and videos, include ones from “Sesame Street.” And the list of categories extends beyond Math to Science, Physics and Probability. For older students.
I try to use a variety of ways to help my girls stay strong in school – from making sure to set aside time for them to do their homework to conferring with teachers to know what’s expected of them. Academic coaching helps also.