Thursday, December 13, 2012

Educational Gaming

I read this article in the NY Times about a class divide inthe toy isle. Many of the creative, outstanding toys that have been proven to help give a step up for children in their education cannot be found at most mass market stores like Walmart or Toys R’Us. You have to look to the smaller, independent stores, typically nestled in more of the high-end communities. 

This applies to video games as well. A number of the software that encourage creativity and intellectual discussion are not ones that you can easily pick up at a Target. Many of these manufacturers of such toys find themselves in a catch-22 scenario. They want to stay small and independent enough that they can still create these unique toys without the influence of the corporate world. At the same time, because they don’t play “the game” they are not going to get the funding needed to push their products to the chain stores. Instead they are limited to local toy stores or museum gift shops.

I’m addressing this as a post today after reading another article in the NY Times about how not all educational toys are educational. Other then the obvious “no duh” sign, it’s not surprising that a number of the educational toys that are on the mass market shelves are not as intellectually stimulating as the ones that you can find at a small, local, non-chain store.

Is there any way to change this? Probably not. Part of the problem is that a number of parents and adults are still unaware about the importance of “Play.” I won’t begin to link the numerous studies, but they all agree that play time with games all improve cognitive, creative, intellectual, and social functions for children. When we keep them at their desks, they miss out on real world stimulation that they desperately need. And yes, not all educational games are alike. We have to think and reach outside the box to get to the good ones.

I’m an advocate of all children being allowed access to all resources for learning, but part of the trouble is getting that access. It kind of sucks. So when you think about donating to Child’s Play next year, consider going to one of your local toy stores instead of Target.


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