| Games

How can apps and games support your child’s online experiences?

Alžbeta Kovaľová | 09 Jan 2024

In the age of screens, kids today are undoubtedly the reigning champs of tech engagement, turning digital landscapes into their modern playground. But what skills can they take from their online activities to 'IRL'?

In the age of screens, kids today are undoubtedly the reigning champs of tech engagement, turning digital landscapes into their modern playground. The rise of Generation Alpha marks the dawn of a genuinely digital-native era, where screens play a pivotal role in shaping the social prowess of our youngest generation. It’s a fascinating paradox—the digital world both connects and challenges the art of face-to-face communication, influencing the delicate dance of friendship formation.

Yet there’s a silver lining in this digital dance. Technology, the very culprit of our screen-centric era, has opened a new chapter in human interaction — wherein borders and distances crumble into insignificance. For kids navigating this landscape, whether through text messages, online gaming banter or photo-sharing, technology becomes a conduit for forging authentic connections that transcend the virtual realm.

And here’s the twist: for some, online interaction isn’t just a pastime; it’s a lifeline. In a world where shyness or a lack of confidence might pose challenges in traditional social settings, technology steps in as a facilitator. Kids grappling with social anxiety disorders find solace in the online sphere, where the burden of “having to talk to someone” is lifted. Social media platforms become their comfort zones, providing a space to communicate with ease.

In essence, the digital playground isn’t just reshaping how kids play, it’s redefining how they connect, communicate and ultimately grow.

ESET Parental Control offers a time-limit function, where you can set a specific length of time that your kids can spend on an app and make sure their screen time is both monitored and secured.

Try it now! 

Here are 5 games/apps that may be beneficial in developing social skills:

1. Toca Life World: Build a Story

This game is available on both iOS and Android operation systems, and it offers a virtual world where kids can explore various environments, engage in role-play and interact with other players. It is a free-to-play imaginative game that offers in-app purchases. It was released in 2018 by the Swedish online game studio Toca Boca and so far has over 100 million downloads on the Google Play Store.

2. PBS KIDS Games

This collection of educational games, available on both iOS and Android operating systems, is based on popular PBS (Public Broadcasting Service, USA) characters with over 10+ million downloads on the Google Play Store alone. The games involve teamwork, problem-solving and cooperation, which can all lead to a broader development of social skills. The app promotes shared experiences through interactive stories and collaborative challenges.

3. Endless Alphabet

This game combines entertainment with education while offering interactive games that focus on building vocabulary and language skills. It is available on iOS and Android operating systems. The game introduces animated characters and encourages children to work together with their parents and peers to solve word puzzles, fostering communication and language development.

4. Sesame Street Family Play

This game, available on iOS and Android operating systems, is designed for joint parent-child play. It features games and activities that encourage social interaction, turn-taking and cooperation. The game shows beloved Sesame Street characters, encouraging children in collaborative learning experiences that extend beyond the digital world.

5. Social Express

This highly rated game is available only on Apple devices, and is designed to help children, especially those with social learning challenges, enhance their social skills. Through interactive lessons and animated scenarios, kids can learn and practice a variety of social interactions, including greetings, conversations, and problem-solving. The app offers a supportive environment for children to navigate social situations and improve their understanding of social cues, ultimately fostering better communication and interpersonal skills.

Although these apps can be a great addition to the tools available for developing social skills, it is essential to ensure age-appropriate content, to supervise screen time, and to complement digital experiences with real-world social interactions.

What can you do to encourage healthy social development in your child?

1. Model positive social behaviour – Children often learn by observing their parents and how they interact with others. By modelling proper positive social behaviour such as active listening, empathy and respectful communication and by practicing digital netiquette, you can encourage your children to follow in your footsteps. Your actions serve as a powerful example for them; they learn from you both online and offline.

2. Encourage play in groups – Groups can provide a great space for kids to practice sharing, taking turns, cooperation and other essential skills. By organising playdates or encouraging (with proper monitoring) online games and other activities that involve your kids’ peers, you can foster better interaction within their social circle.

3. Supervise and set boundaries – Established rules about social media and online game use can lead to a more respectful and well-behaved individual. By monitoring your child’s behaviour online and setting age-appropriate boundaries (time limits and content filters) you can teach responsibility and proper digital behaviour. 

4. Spend time online together – Whether it’s playing games or watching videos, joint experiences provide opportunities for discussion and shared learning. By engaging in age-appropriate online activities with your kids you can strengthen your own relationship with your children. 

5. Use educational apps and games – Last but not least, using educational games and other apps can help in social skill development, if used properly and supervised.

All these apps and tips can be very beneficial, but let’s not forget the most influential tool of all: conversation. Even with all the digital tools, engaging in heartfelt dialogue with your child remains paramount. As parents, your words and guidance shape their understanding of social interactions. So, as you navigate the blend of on and offline experiences with your little ones, cherish those moments of genuine conversation. And always remember that you are shaping their digital future even as we speak.


About the author

Alžbeta Kovaľová /
Security writer

Alžbeta has worked at ESET for two years...

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