While looking up information about video games and kids, I notice most articles feature either a picture of a young kid glued to an iPad or a teen in a dark room staring at a screen. These images are not entirely accurate. According to a survey from the Entertainment Software Association, over half of parents polled play video games with their kids at least once a month and a third play once a week. In fact, 52% of parents say video games are a positive part of their child’s life.
I find the challenge is finding a game the entire family wants to play together. Last April, I spoke with Nancy MacIntyre the CEO of Fingerprint about designing family games. Fingerprint’s philosophy is “to develop games that are fun for the whole family, but safe for kids.” Their game Flying Alphabetinisis proof that it is possible to create fun, safe and social games for both parents and kids.
Now, Fingerprint in partnership with TigerFace Games has launched several more games for families. These new apps allow kids and parents to play as a team or go head-to-head using a single tablet. As an added bonus, these games are educational helping kids with math, science, reading and languages.
Cosmic Reactor and Quick Tap are available now and the other two games will be out by the end of September. Right now, these games are for the iPad only. Us, Android users, will have to wait a little longer. If you are looking for a family game, check out these 4 new games by Fingerprint. Continue reading →
One of the best sites around for families is Commonsense Media. I am always on their website reading app reviews or catching up with Caroline Knorr’s Q&A. Besides helping parents, Commonsense Media also works with schools. One of their popular school programs for grades 3-5 is the “Digital Passport for Kids” app. This summer, Commonsense Media, in partnership with Time Warner Media, is making this app available for free to everyone.
The Digital Passport for Kids app teaches kids about being responsible online. The app starts with an introduction on how to create strong passwords. After the intro, kids can choose from 5 different scenarios. Each scenario begins with a video that features a kid telling their story about a problem they had online and how they solved it. After the story, kids play a game that reinforces what they learned from the video. Kids can complete the scenarios in any order. When they finish all of them, they earn a Digital Passport to online safety.
Both my 3rd grader and 5th grader played with this app. Overall, they thought the videos were “OK”. The games were definitely the highlight. Both commented, “that the games were actually games and not hidden quizzes.” They wanted to play the games over and over. My 3rd grader’s favorite was Search Shark and my 5th grader’s favorite was Twalkers. These games are more than just fun. After playing each game, they both learned some important online lessons.
This rainy spring break, we played lots of board games. There are so many great board games: Monopoly, Risk, Sorry, Scattergories… Regardless of age, everyone enjoys playing these games. I am always on the lookout for an online game we can all play together. In the digital world, it is tough to find a family game.
Most online games either appeal to really young kids or the over 13 crowd. The games that are safe for younger kids, my older children find boring. When I check out the older games and see the chat window and the questionable ads, I am just not comfortable letting my youngest on. Thankfully, I finally found a game that is safe and we all want to play – The Flying Alphabetinis.
The Flying Alphabetinis by Fingerprint is a social gaming app that everyone can play. My oldest best described it as Scramble with Friends for kids. I would describe it as digital Boggle. Family members and friends play against each other to see who can find the most words. Everything kids love about social games is still included. They can challenge each other and send messages in a safe (not boring) environment.
A few weeks ago, I got a chance to talk with Nancy MacIntyre the CEO of Fingerprint about designing games for the entire family. She acknowledged, “it’s a constant challenge from a game design perspective – providing a good play experience, but keeping it safe.”Fingerprint meets this challenge by first making a fun game. Then, they develop their games with the overriding principle of no personal data collected, ever. They also have help from over 50 moms, 200 kids, 400 hours of play testing, and 1500 families in Canada playing the game plus many, many hours with legal experts on COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act).Continue reading →