Sept. 14, 2018
We know that your children love playing online games. We also know that sometimes children choose online games that aren’t suitable for them. These game may be violent, contain sexually explicit material, glorify drug abuse or contain profane language. Some gaming sites are havens for all sorts of people and ideas that you really don’t want your child exposed too. Knowing which games are ok for your child and diverting them from games which aren’t designed for them or are plane dangerous can be tricky.
It can be difficult to say ‘no’ to your children. They are masters of persuasion: sometimes they just wear you down. But there are things that you can do to reduce the risks to your child for these games and they don’t involve confiscating devices or locking up the PC!
Find out which games they like and why they play them. Create an environment where your child feels like they are able to talk about their online experiences. Encourage them to tell you about their good and bad experiences.
Talk to your children’s’ friends’ parents about gaming and online life. Other parents can provide valuable insights into what goes on online. Of course, just because someone else's mum lets them play games you think are inappropriate, you don’t have to allow your child to do the same. You are your child’s parent, therefore you decide what is right for your child.
If you aren’t sure how the game works ask your child to show you. They will be delighted that you are interested and enjoy demonstrating their computer skills. And you never know, you might even enjoy the experience!
Check the game’s PEGI rating. PEGI works like film classification. It helps “consumers make informed decisions when buying video games or apps through the use of age recommendations and content descriptors”. You wouldn’t let your 11-year-old watch an 18 rated film so don’t let them play 18 rated games. Check out what Commonsense media says about the game or app too. Astute media provides an overview of the game, suggests an appropriate age rating and can include views from parents.
Rather than playing someone else’s game why not encourage your child to create their own game for other people to play? There are lots of apps and websites that allow users to create and share their own games. Some of them carry the same risks as mentioned above and the same advice applies. But there is a safe, child-friendly and free educational game making option - Purple Mash.
Purple Mash’s 2Go, 2Logo, 2Code, and 2DIY3D are used at your child’s school to introduce them to computer programming (coding). They are safe to use at home. You don’t need to download anything, they don’t allow your child to interact with other people online and are free. They are also very easy to use and your child has probably already enjoyed using them at school.
Get younger children, including pre-readers, started on their coding journey with 2Go. Most computer games require the player to control an onscreen character through a series of quests. 2Go introduces players to this idea of controlling onscreen objects or characters in order to navigate a series of simple mazes and maps. All commands (move, up, down, left, right) are entered using pre-defined coding blocks (directional arrow and numbers). The level of difficulty gradually increases as players become more confident. There is also the option for players to create their own challenges. 2Go is a wonderful simple introduction to coding and creating onscreen games.
2Logo also involves controlling an onscreen object but uses a greater range of commands. It uses a simple text-based coding language preparing children for the more sophisticated programming languages they will encounter at secondary school. 2Logo provides onscreen help and encourages children to create more complex games and animations whilst developing logical thinking and practising basic programming concepts.
2Code is perfect for creating computer games. Children can use backgrounds and characters from the library or create their own environments. Pre-defined blocks of code are snapped together like jigsaw pieces to create the programme allowing young coders to concentrate on the logic of their programmes. The knack, of course, is ensuring that the blocks are arranged logically into a game programme. A ‘debug’ area highlights errors in the code and encourages children to find and fix coding errors. Once a 2Code program has been saved into Purple Mash it can be shared with anyone you, or your child, send the link to. Friends can play the game and suggest amendments and improvements by 2Simple’s 2Email.
Enter the world of 3-dimensional game design with 2DIY3D. It allows users to create a themed maze with 'treasure' and 'baddies' that affect the player's success. Special effects can be added to ‘events’ i.e. a cheer when a piece of treasure is found and the baddies can be customised or new characters created. The maze is played in a 3D view. Pupils can add instructions for their game and can choose various customization options. 2DIY 3D games are really adaptable to whatever topic is being studied at school or to themes that interest the child. As with 2Code, finished games can be safely shared with others.
If your child loves playing online games, they will love creating their own games with these Purple Mash apps, and you’ll love knowing that they are learning valuable skills and having fun in a safe environment. Check out Purple Mash today.