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5 Video Games That Are Both Fun and Beneficial for Your Kids

5 Video Games That Are Both Fun and Beneficial for Your Kids

If you aren’t letting your kids play video games in this day and age, you’re robbing them of an incredibly effective educational tool (perhaps “robbing” is too strong of a word, but let’s face it, hyperbole is fun)! I’m not talking about that stuff people play on smartphones or tablets either, like Candy Crush or Angry Birds. Your kids need to be exposed to the real deal! If you haven’t given them any legitimate video games to mess around with yet, or just haven’t found the right ones, here’s a list that I think both you and your progeny will appreciate as a starting point. As someone who grew up with video games and found them to be extremely beneficial to my development, I assure you that the following games can make a huge difference.

1. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

VideoGames#1

    Released for the Xbox in 2003, this renowned role playing game can now be bought at a low price and downloaded onto most PCs (or even your smartphone or tablet, though I don’t recommend that option). I played through it at the ripe old age of 10, and I’ll never forget the wonder I experienced whilst exploring the game’s first alien cities and replying to random NPCs (non-player characters) using the game’s intuitive and oft-hilarious dialogue options. Not only did my mind grow leaps and bounds due to being able to experience such an incredible story first hand (at the time it felt like I was in a Star Wars movie), but my young brain gobbled up all of the complicated vocabulary words and concepts faster than a starving dog would gobble down a raw steak. To this day, I thank this game for having the most impact on me in terms of developing my verbal and mental dictionary. While I didn’t understand everything that went on in this game (I was 10 after all), that’s okay, since I’m able to revisit it today and pick up on all of the nuances I missed as a youngster.

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    This game is also likely what got me into science fiction, which is never a bad thing, as a love for that genre is known to boost your imagination and spur you to work harder to better the society we currently live in.

    2. Pokémon X

    VideoGames#2

      I grew up with the Blue version of this game, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a kid willing to use a Gameboy Color after being exposed to iPhones and the like, and thus the newest versions (X and Y) will have to do. Pokémon games cultivate a sense of adventure that really can’t be attained when playing other games, at least when you’re really young (like around 5 or 6). They’re so good at doing this that even adults (like me) continue to play them to try and recapture what we felt as kids. What makes them great for the youngsters is that they’re entirely text-based games (in regard to the dialogue), which means you’ll have to read if you want to play. This forces kids to develop crucial skills when they’re otherwise distracted catching Pokémon and exploring the game’s world, whereas in the classroom they might tune out a teacher’s reading lessons.

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      3. Mass Effect

      VideoGames#3

        Released in 2007 and developed by the same folks who crafted game number one on this list, Mass Effect truly is a science fiction masterpiece. Not only that, it tells one of the most sensational stories told in any video game, one that most who’ve played it would argue surpasses the average Hollywood summer blockbuster (though I suppose that isn’t too hard nowadays). Is it a mature game? Yes, but that doesn’t mean you should hide it from your kids. They’ll see worse on the average TV show nowadays anyways, and it might be worth a little bit of leniency in order to expose them to the kinds of stories that will encourage them to go out and consume information that they never would have dreamed of being interested in previously. For instance, after I played Mass Effect I became so consumed by the lore that I went out and bought the books based on the games. After I read those, I was so hungry for more stories like it that I read more science fiction novels. You never know what will spark your kid’s desire to read and learn on their own. Once they find what interests them, they’ll be teaching themselves many of the skills that you’d expect them to learn in school, especially in regard to expansion of vocabulary and improved reading ability. Mass Effect did this for me, and many others. Why not give it a shot for your son or daughter?

        4. Sim City 4

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        VideoGames#4

          This is a city simulator that’s so good, nobody has managed to top it for the last decade. Go and do yourself a favor and pick up or download a copy for $20 (or less), and let your kid go crazy with it. There’s no better way to both have fun and learn something valuable than in a game where the goal is to design, build, and maintain a self-sustaining city. Believe me, it’s about as hard to do in this game as it is in real life! Once your kid manages to pull it off, however, they’ll know more about distributing water and power lines, dealing with unions, and managing crime and pollution than your average politician. Here’s the best part for kids: Sim City 4 allows you to destroy everything you build in super creative and endlessly fun ways! Tired of your city? Send a robot dinosaur to crush it underfoot. Or spawn a volcano. Or send aliens to attack it. The world is your kid’s oyster in this game!

          5. World of Warcraft

          VideoGames#5

            What? A massive multiplayer game for a kid? Sure, why not. I played it when I was 12 and had a blast. I was a bit socially awkward at the time and it helped give me a way to connect with other kids at my school who also played the game (abbreviated as WoW). Beyond the social aspects, this game, like Pokémon, is full of text-based quests and lots of juicy lore that any imaginative kid will gobble up faster than you can say “apple pie a-la-mode.” Again, while your boy or girl might hate reading about the seasons or why recycling is good in their classes, they’ll probably enjoy pouring over texts about a powerful wizard, or an eccentric gnome who designs robots (even if they don’t fully grasp all of the subtext).

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            As a parent, you’ll have to monitor just how involved your kid gets in terms of the social aspects of the game. Most of the people playing WoW are in fact adults, and so you might decide to turn off the chat option altogether. That being said, I for one think I benefited greatly from being immersed in an adult’s world at such an early age. Not because they talked about uber mature topics or anything (they didn’t), but because I developed many worthwhile skills while trying to mimic the way they typed and thought about things (because I wanted to fit in). I got so good that most of the people who I played with assumed I was an adult too, based solely on how I typed and presented myself. In reality, I was just a 13-year-old who knew nothing about pretty much everything, but they didn’t have to know that. After a while this mimicry became less of an act, until eventually I just typed that way naturally. Consequently, I think this gave me a head start in terms of developing my ability to not only writebut to think. Whether or not you allow your kid to play a game like WoW is totally up to you, the parent. Just know, however, that they’ll be exposed to way worse stuff in the mall with their pals than they will in the colorful world of Azeroth. I think it’s worth the risk, especially if you decide to play with them (I knew a lot of parent/child duos that played WoW; it’s far more common than you might think).

            Final thoughts

            To close, the common theme tying all of these games together is that each of them will open up your children’s minds and force them to use their brains. The cool thing is, however, that to them it won’t feel like work. They’ll be having fun, all the while learning perhaps more in a video game than they do in their grade school classes.

            At the end of the day, it’s your decision as a parent whether you’ll allow your kids to access this treasure trove of knowledge-inducing and imagination-boosting material. It worked for me…why not your kid?

            Featured photo credit: Xbox One Controller/Mack Male via flickr.com

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            Published on January 18, 2019

            Best 5 Language Learning Apps to Easily Master a New Language

            Best 5 Language Learning Apps to Easily Master a New Language

            Learning a new language is no easy feat. While a language instructor is irreplaceable, language learning apps have come to revolutionize a lot of things and it has made language learning much easier. Compared to language learning websites, apps offer a more interactive experience to learn a new language.

            The following language learning apps are the top recommended apps for your language learning needs:

            1. Duolingo

              Duolingo is a very successful app that merged gamification and language learning. According to Expanded Ramblings, the app now counts with 300 million users.

              Duolingo offers a unique concept, an easy-to-use app and is a great app to accompany your language acquisition journey. The courses are created by native speakers, so this is not data or algorithm-based.

              The app is free and has the upgrade options with Duolingo Plus for $9.99, which are add free lessons. The mobile app offers 25 languages and is popular for English-speaking learners learning other languages.

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              Download the app

              2. HelloTalk

                HelloTalk aims to facilitate speaking practice and eliminate the stresses of a real-time and life conversation. The app allows users to connect to native speakers and has a WhatsApp like chat that imitates its interface.

                There is a perk to this app. The same native speakers available also want to make an even exchange and learn your target language, so engagement is the name of the game.

                What’s more, the app has integrated translation function that bypasses the difficulties of sending a message with a missing word and instead fills in the gap.

                Download the app

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                3. Mindsnacks

                  Remember that Duolingo has integrated gamification in language learning? Well, Mindsnacks takes the concept to another level. There is an extensive list of languages available within the app comes with eight to nine games designed to learn grammar, vocabulary listening.

                  You will also be able to visualize your progress since the app integrates monitoring capabilities. The layout and interface is nothing short of enjoyable, cheerful and charming.

                  Download the app

                  4. Busuu

                    Bussu is a social language learning app. It is available on the web, Android, and iOS. It currently supports 12 languages and is free.

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                    The functionality allows users to learn words, simple dialogues and questions related to the conversations. In addition, the dialogues are recorded by native speakers, which brings you close to the language learning experience.

                    When you upgrade, you unlock important features including course materials. The subscription is $17 a month.

                    Download the app

                    5. Babbel

                      Babbel is a subscription-based service founded in 2008. According to LinguaLift, it is a paid cousing of Duolingo. The free version comes with 40 classes, and does not require you to invest any money.

                      Each of the classes starts with with a sequential teaching of vocabulary with the help of pictures. The courses are tailor made and adapted to the students’ level, allowing the learning to be adjusted accordingly.

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                      If you started learning a language and stopped, Babbel will help you pick up where you started.

                      Download the app

                      Takeaways

                      All the apps recommended are tailored for different needs, whether you’re beginning to learn a language or trying to pick back up one. All of them are designed by real-life native speakers and so provide you with a more concrete learning experience.

                      Since these apps are designed to adapt to different kinds of learning styles, do check out which one is the most suitable for you.

                      Featured photo credit: Yura Fresh via unsplash.com

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