But as your little one gets older, you begin to realise that it’s near impossible ― and not to mention unrealistic ― to keep those devices from him.
Indeed, many schools give homework assignments that require junior to go online, so many kids as young as aged 9 or 10 own smartphones, even if it is just a means for them to contact their parents during the day.
Thinking of delving into this digital world of mobile games with your offspring? Scroll through our photo gallery to get a lowdown of the most popular gaming apps!
Main photo: iStock
This game has been such a hit with kids, it has spawned a whole line of toys. Roblox’s content is created by amateur game creators, who have created the games using simple tools. This way, it has an ever-changing library of games that the younger crowd love. Most of the games involve you “entering” a world inhabited by other people. For instance, in one of the games “Work at a Pizza Place”, you have to work with others to run a pizza restaurant. Parents should note: The in-game chat is a feature of Roblox. While junior may want to play and interact with his real-life friends in the game. This may pose a safety issue as it is possible for them to get random friend requests from strangers. What you can do is to set the parental controls, so that they cannot chat in-game, or accept game invites to play together. Parental controls also allow you to set an “under 13” filter, to sift out the games that are too violent. Its in-game purchase is another feature that parents should be aware of. Robux ― the currency used in Roblox ― costs real money. Robux is used to buy items, customise your profile, or unlock access to certain games. Photo: Roblox
The brick-construction-type game, which leverages on the idea of building and exploring, is extremely popular with kids between 5 and 13 years old. Minecraft is an imaginative game, so players use blocks to build worlds from scratch, then go on to seek adventure or even fight villains. For example, you can “punch” a tree to break its trunk into wooden blocks, then use these blocks to make wooden boards, which are used to create a table. The game goes through the day-and-night cycle, which means you build shelters during the day to protect you from the zombie-like creatures that come out at night. Parents should note: Playing Minecraft in certain modes allows you to chat with other players, so, make sure your kiddo knows how to stay safe online. Ask them if they are talking to anyone who isn’t a real-life friend, and make sure they aren’t chatting with random strangers. Minecraft has also made its way into YouTube, with tons of YouTubers producing Minecraft-related content. While a lot of this content is kid-friendly, in some videos, players are spewing vulgarities ― so, parents, do remember to turn on those YouTube Parental Controls. Photo: Minecraft
Ever popular, the Pokémon franchise has reached new heights, thanks to this augmented reality game. Using GPS tracking, you head outside to search for Pokémon in “real-life” locations, do battle in “gyms” [where Pokémon Trainers train their Pokémon] and gather resources. You’ll also be rewarded for walking long distances, which is great for keeping the family active. Parents should note: A key safety concern is the game’s use of GPS tracking, meaning that a player’s location can be tracked. Also, while the augmented reality aspect of the game is intriguing, it can easily cause you to be distracted ― for instance, if you’re staring at your phone while crossing the road. There have also been reports of people trespassing or going into restricted areas, just to catch an elusive Pokémon. While Pokémon Go is a fun game to play together as a family, it’s worthwhile to have a conversation with junior about these dangers. Photo: Pokémongo
As a town planner, you build and grow your town in square plots in this adorable game. Junior will get taken through the entire farming process. From planting and harvesting crops, to processing and distributing the produce. Kids can definitely benefit from seeing how to plan, construct and expand a small town, and what it’s like to keep a real town running. Parents should note: As the town grows, it gets extremely tempting to make in-app purchases to enhance your town by building new buildings and placing decorative elements. There’s also a community aspect of the game, where you can add friends via Facebook or Google +, allowing you to combine resources, or trade gifts. While the it’s a great educational game for young kids, it can be extremely addictive and time-consuming, so make sure you set those screen time limits. Photo: Township Wiki
Fortnite: Battle Royale
For parents of slightly older kids ― boys, in particular ― chances are, you’d have heard of this massively popular online shooting game. In this survivor-style game, players leap out of a flying bus onto a small island and fight each other until there’s only one man standing. Players explore the island while finding hidden weapons and items, as well as resources that will let you build structures to defend yourself. Parents should note: Kids love this game because of the bright, colourful graphics, such that they even find the violence “funny”. So, if younger kids play (or watch their older siblings play), do advise them as to what’s real and what’s not. As players can chat with each other, parents must note that cursing and vulgarities are not uncommon. To progress further in the game, many also make in-app purchases ― so, watch out for this feature. Photo: Epic Games
Candy Crush Saga
Making waves many years ago, this game is still extremely popular today. The premise is easy enough for kids as young as 5 ― just match three sweets of the same colour. The level of difficulty gets more challenging as you play, so, you’re introduced to special candies to help you complete the level faster, which lets you score huge bonuses for hitting combos. Earn as many candy points before the timer runs out. Parents should note: Enjoy this very child-friendly game as a family. But take note that it’s extremely addictive. Laura Liu, mum to Sarah, 8, noticed that her daughter was starting to procrastinate over her homework because she couldn’t take her mind off the game. “And not just the kids ― it’s addictive for the parents too, so sometimes, you really need to put aside the phone and be present for each other,” says Liu. Photo: Candy Crush