No matter how much we rail against the possibility, I do believe that by the time our son and daughter reach their late teens, their only – not primary, but only - source of information will be from the digital world. Our daughter is two-years old. She not only knows how to click a button on our iPad to find a game; she can turn on the iPad; unlock the iPad; find any number of games that we have downloaded for her; and, she understands the games. Our son is about three-months away from learning our password to our iTunes account, which will allow him the ability to download any game he chooses. (Thankfully, he respects that I do not like “blood”, “guns” or “people getting hurt”, so when we are looking for a game together, he will say, “Not that one. That one looks bad.”)
The point being, their world is digital…already. And, of course, like TV and any other form of media, we must moderate and regulate their intake. That said, a good iPad game will allow you the time to finish dinner; wash a load of clothes; or, even to share in their make believe. Games have saved us when we were stuck in traffic on a trip out of town and allowed us adult time when a dinner out with other adults has gone too long. I know, I know…there are adults who roll their eyes at us that we would dare allow our children to play a game in a restaurant, but I say that it is unfair to force our two-year old and our soon to be five-year old to sit at a dinner that has dragged past the hour-mark and expect them to sit quietly and listen as the adults in their lives drone on about adult topics.
There are a lot of games out there that are just plain fun and there are many games that are an opportunity for learning. And Toca Boca is one of the best gaming communities for little ones.
So following are a few of our favorites from Toca Boca. We’ll return to this topic in a week or so with some game ideas for kids a bit older.
Sidenote: If you are not the type that allows your children to play games, Godspeed. And if you are, you can thank me later. The key when downloading games from iTunes is to pay close attention to the age recommendation. It helps. ’4+’ means age 4 or older; and, it has been my experience that ’9+’ begins to get into a territory of gaming that is fraught with a potential for realistic war games that includes guns, blood and “people getting hurt”.
Toca Hair Salon
Toca Hair Salon is a part of a larger group of games by Toca Boca. The Toca Hair Salon allows kids to cut, style, blow dry, and as evidenced in the photos below, create some creative do’s in the comfort of their own ‘salon’. Our little ones think it funny to create some fairly outrageous styles and then save their work to the iPad. I think the game is great because there is a color wheel and Hunt and I use it to learn colors.
Kids get to ‘go shopping’ for goods from a catalog of items in the Toca Store. This is the fun part (and if you are anything like me you will feel some strange sense of pride when your children choose produce instead of toys). But the great thing about this game is that kids get to set their own prices for the items and then must pay the amount they have chosen. They then receive a “receipt” listing how many items they have purchased and the total price for the same. It’s a good game for learning to count numbers and do begin to learn math.
Kids get to practice medicine in the Toca Doctor game. Kids can clean bacteria from teeth, set bones and maneuver objects through the intestinal track. (All graphics are cartoonish and appropriate for the younger set). This game is a good one to learn about the body and how the body works.