Molouk Y. Ba-Isa
Summer is upon us. The kids are home and their brains are becoming mush while they sit and play violent video games for hours or stare mindlessly at the TV. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It is up to parents to limit the amount of time that children interact with digital “babysitters.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children two years old and younger be exposed to no screen time. For older children, the AAP suggests limiting screen time – including TV, video games and computer use – to one to two hours per day of active viewing time. Such a recommendation is probably horrifying to parents with kids stuck indoors for months during the Kingdom’s hot summers. That means it’s essential for parents to select appropriate brain enriching content to explore during time spent interacting with digital devices – especially if those devices will be used more frequently than they should be.
When it comes to video games, throw away the violent ones and bring home game titles that will encourage physical activity and creativity. Sesame Street: Elmo’s Musical Monsterpiece is a new game that gets preschoolers up and moving while they explore the wonders of music and dance with Elmo, Abby Cadabby and Count von Count. All of the music in the game is performed by Ozomatli, and includes some original songs by the popular Los Angeles-based band, whose music is a combination of hip-hop, salsa, dancehall, cumbia, samba, funk, merengue, Jamaican reggae and Indian raga influences. The upbeat tunes will appeal to kids and parents alike.
Great apps for kids now come from developers worldwide. Russia’s 1C Company has chosen to step away momentarily from creating violent video games and has just released the first international game on the iPhone and the iPad starring Luntik. A small fluffy creature, Luntik, was born on the Moon and fell from it, onto the Earth. In Russia, Lutnik stars in an animated TV series. In each episode, the little alien learns something about life on this planet.
In the app, Luntik Colors the World, the aim is to stimulate young minds and teach them about colors and shapes. Aspiring young artists will work with Luntik and his friends, to learn to paint pictures, while memorizing the names of colors and shapes. They will also help Luntik solve funny puzzles and understand the basics of mixing colors and making mosaics. Most importantly if a child can’t figure out a problem, the characters will give him an easier one to help him learn. Easy controls and a friendly voice help kids quickly familiarize themselves with the game world and complete lessons independently, cultivating a sense of accomplishment. Everybody can print out the free coloring pages at www.playluntik.com.
The last web resource to share with you today is called BrainPOP. Founded in 1999, this education resource just keeps getting better. The website, www.brainpop.com, is packed with entertaining educational content. The award-winning online resources include BrainPOP Jr., for learners through the third grade, BrainPOP, which is educational for everyone, and for English language learners, BrainPOP ESL. BrainPop has also launched incredible mobile apps for both iOS and Android. All BrainPOP content is aligned with academic standards and easily searchable with the site’s Standards Tool. BrainPOP is easy to use, with no downloading, installation or special hardware required. The educational content is by subscription, but there is a free five-day trial that will allow exploration of the entire learning suite. Just register and let your kids enjoy.