In the Frontiers In article “The Virtual Brain: 30 years of Videogame Play and Cognitive Abilities”, researcher A.J. Latham reviews thirty years worth of video game research. Based on the findings of over fifty different studies, Latham asserts that video games boost a huge array of cognitive functions. Able to improve hand-eye coordination, spatial visualization, reaction time, and ability to multitask, video games offer a host of advantages to kids, but as any parent knows, not all video games are created equal. To give your child a mental workout that they will love, check out the following games:
Minecraft offers players the chance to mine for resources and use them to build structures. Although the software was not made to be educational, it offers several educational advantages. In a recent video on ConnectedLearning.TV, game designers, education researchers, and and technology consultants got together to explain the advantages of Minecraft. The game offers two modes–survival and creative–and players can build almost anything that they can imagine. The full version is available for PC and Xbox, but players can also buy the Pocket Edition for mobile devices.
Designed by GlassLab, SimCityEDU was designed so that teachers could integrate the game into their classrooms. The game teaches students about everything from pollution to city management strategies, and it requires students to think about the repercussions of their actions on a large scale. For instance, according to Time Magazine, a player could close down the coal plant in their virtual town, and although that may help their environment, it reduces the number of jobs in their city.
Hidden Object Games
Children have been searching for hidden objects since long before the advent of video games, but they can hone their skills on the go with hidden object games at www.iwin.com. These games sharpen the mind because they require the player to look past the obvious. If the clues are word-based, they force the player to think about the possibility of double meanings, For instance, a “bat” could be a winged mammal or a baseball bat.
A hoot for everyone from young children to old and seasoned travelers, GeoGussr provides you with a picture of a location from Google Maps. Just as you can do with Google Maps, GeoGuessr allows you to walk around your destination and explore. Using the landscape, the language on the signs, or other clues, you get to guess where you are. You can even enter guesses from two players to see who is the closest.
In Newton’s Playground, everything obeys the basic rules of physics (unlike Minecraft where nothing has to obey physics) and the three laws of motion, according to Educade.org. As players create two-dimensional physics simulations, they learn basic physics knowledge. Although they may not learn the names of each process that is happening on the screen, players discover and become familiar with the concepts inside and out. The idea is that this will hopefully make it easier for them to embrace these concepts in a theoretical sense at some point down the road in a physics classroom. If your child is too young for Newton’s Playground, check out a mobile app like Angry Birds which teaches these same concepts to younger players.