informa
9 min read
Blogs

What Mobile Games are Useful for Kids and Why?

Have you ever caught your eight-year-old playing a mobile game for a few hours? "It's not good for a child to play this crap," - you thought. Yes, but not ALL games are that bad; some of them may be useful for your kid's development.

Smartphones have become an integral part of our lives and children’s lives as well. Many kids are able to perform simple tasks on the phone even before they learn to speak. Parents should not be afraid of this, but use smartphones wisely so as not to overuse games and turn their kids into gaming addicts.

Most professional psychologists agree that mobile games and applications are useful for children, especially if they are educational, interactive, and teach lots of useful knowledge and skills. There are a lot of brain-building games that are worth playing and perfectly match the needs of kids of different age groups, be it preschoolers, teens, or tweens. A positive influence is possible when parents wisely manage their kids’ gaming, select the appropriate mobile apps, check the content beforehand, and limit the playing time. Today, game development studios use their experience, advanced technologies, and all possible tricks and tweaks to create mobile games for kids that are both addictive and useful to play.  

I love exploring how mobile games can support and promote skills. Below is my study of the most popular genres in which mobile games fall and an overview of the complementary skills your child can develop in each of them.

Actions

What do we know about this game genre? Well, it speaks for itself. Action games for kids are highly energetic and active, making your child think and move fast. If you want to check your child’s reflexes, action games are the best choice. They get children into a dynamic play world and require flexibility, high energy, and quick reactions to succeed.

Action games have a set of moves that can be used to run, jump, or fight the enemies. Focusing on multiple things at once - e.g. collecting coins, fighting the enemies, timing -  players complete level after level, pushing the story forward. Normally, this games are played by children aged 7 and up and are great tools to develop a working memory, reaction speed, deep concentration, flexibility, and self-control. A good example of an old, favorite action game for children is Super Mario Run.

Adventures

Adventure games are a unique game category that often combines several game genres at once including, but not limited to, action, puzzle, and educational games. Such games take users on an adventure, where the main focus is exploration. Players require high concentration throughout the whole playing process.

Adventure video games are exciting and thrilling puzzles that take gamers through the story. A natural fit for mobile and kids of all ages starting at age 3 and up. My favorite examples of good adventure games for kids are LEGO® Jurassic World™ and Machinarium.

Arcades

Arcade games often have short levels that increase in difficulty as the game moves on and help kids to develop complex thinking, fast reactions, concentration, and time management. Arcades usually have a visually appealing interface: simple and intuitive game controls and game scenarios that can be easily understood by children of all ages starting from preschoolers. Moreover, arcades are the most popular type of games played on mobile devices which is pretty much convenient for parents whenever they want to entertain their children with games. The most notable examples of arcade games are Fruit Ninja, Geometry Dash, and King of Juice.

Casual Games

Most casual games combine features of puzzle and card game genres and have simple scenarios. Often, casual games can be played just with one button or a fingertip. An interesting fact about this game genre is that more than 70% of casual game players are female. Casual games are often played on transportation and during school breaks since they do not require much time to reach a final stage.

Despite the simplicity of game scenarios, casual games are useful for children, thanks to their ability to develop and improve a player’s processing speed. By playing casual games, kids with slow processing speeds can start working more efficiently. Many casual games are designed for children aged 3 and up.

The absolute bestsellers in the casual games category are Candy Crush Saga and Angry Birds POP Bubble Shooter.

Racing Games

On average, most children start playing racing games at age 6-8, though there are some apps that are designed for younger ages like Hill Climb Racing and are the best fit for those who are always ready to kick-start and never stop. Useful skills that can be fostered while playing car racing games include reaction time, processing speed, and flexibility.

Need for Speed is a #1 example of a wisely structured mid-core racing.

Educational Games

Both the App Store and Google Play offer a lot of educational mobile games to download. All of them are designed to develop certain skills and teach specific information. Even the youngest players aged 3 and up have a wide range of applications to choose from. Often educational game development studios work in conjunction with teachers to create games that not only entertain, but also help kids to acquire useful skills and learn the required information.

Most popular educational games help children prepare for school, teach basic information about things around us, like animals, nature, house, shops, hospitals, and so on. There are a lot of educational games that provide information on the human body in the most interactive and appealing way, as well as apps that help to turn daily tasks into a game. No need to specify all types and benefits of educational games, since their usefulness for children of all ages is obvious.

One of the most notable educational apps I can recommend is Khan Academy aimed at kids aged 3 and up. Another education game worth trying is Don’t Mess with Texas designed to decrease littering by the public in Texas and aimed at children aged 6 and up.

If you go even further and want to introduce the most innovative technologies to the youngest smartphone users in a fun and interactive way, you may want to try AR and mixed reality applications for children, for instance, Dinosaurs Everywhere or ARchy the Rabbit

Puzzles

Brain-building puzzle games with increasing complexity are true stress busters. Even small kids adore playing puzzles since they are challenging and engaging at the same time. Puzzle games develop a very useful set of skills including focusing, planning, time management, processing speed and many others.

Every lapsed player knows Tetris - one of the first and most popular puzzle video games. Some other examples of best-selling puzzles that children and even grownups love playing are Cut the Rope aimed at kids aged 3+ and Flow Free which is designed for 4+ children, however, sometimes can be quite hard for 18+.

Simulations

Simulation games are usually designed to simulate some real-world environment and activities for different, sometimes even training purposes. A player gets full control over a scene and develops it as the game moves on. Often a player has a set of tasks he needs to complete to get to the next level. 
Good examples of simulations are role-playing games (RPGs) and city-builders. Role-playing simulations are a good choice for children aged 7 and older giving players an opportunity to take on different roles like a farmer or a cook.

A good example of simulations is SimCity BuildIt by Electronic Arts. 

Sports-based games

Sports games are often referred to as simulations since they reflect and simulate real-world sports activities. We decided to bring sports games into a separate category for their specific features and wide representation on the market.

Most sports have been already recreated into sports-based games. Evergreen games that are often played on PC or mobile devices are football, basketball, baseball, cricket, and golf. Some most popular games of this category are also called “managers” like football manager or cricket manager due to their focus on strategy and discipline, rather than playing itself through many sports games combine both team management and playing the game.

What can a sports game bring to kids? First of all, it develops high attention to details, strategic thinking, planning, and processing speed.

A perfect age to start playing sports-based games or sports managers is 8 and higher. If your child is that age, you can start playing FIFA Soccer or Backbreaker Football with him (not sure about her).

Strategies

Though strategies are quite useful in terms of strategic thinking, they are often war games, so we do not recommend them to children under 12. Strategy games are complex and tricky, often combining different genres. To succeed in a strategy, a player must stay patient, since such games are time-consuming and take a lot of effort to develop a character, a kingdom, or whatever the game is about.
Strategies offer their players different options and modes, like a single and multiplayer option. So, if you think your child needs to work on his strategic, planning, and team playing skills, strategy games can be a good choice to benefit from. My recommendations for this game category is Clash of Clans, however, in my personal opinion, it is not appropriate for children younger than 14.

For parents who get confused over a wide range of games in stores, I truly recommend trusting their instincts. No one knows your child better than you. Think of what your kid likes to play or do in the real world or what skills you’d like him to develop with help of mobile games. This will help you choose the right mobile games to start playing.
 
For the lapsed gamer, it is good to introduce children to some of your old favorites or look for kid-friendly versions of games you enjoy playing. Remember, it is not that important what game you choose but rather the content that is appropriate for kids and fits the right age group.
 
Games teach us a lot of useful skills and knowledge; they teach us how to collaborate, create, win, and lose. They are fun and engaging, inspiring and thrilling, or all of this at the same time. Today, as the world gets more and more digitized, we should think of how to benefit from the opportunities we have around us and let our children play mobile games every now and then to develop the necessary skill set or just for fun.

Latest Jobs

Treyarch

Playa Vista, California
6.20.22
Audio Engineer

Digital Extremes

London, Ontario, Canada
6.20.22
Communications Director

High Moon Studios

Carlsbad, California
6.20.22
Senior Producer

Build a Rocket Boy Games

Edinburgh, Scotland
6.20.22
Lead UI Programmer
More Jobs   

CONNECT WITH US

Register for a
Subscribe to
Follow us

Game Developer Account

Game Developer Newsletter

@gamedevdotcom

Register for a

Game Developer Account

Gain full access to resources (events, white paper, webinars, reports, etc)
Single sign-on to all Informa products

Register
Subscribe to

Game Developer Newsletter

Get daily Game Developer top stories every morning straight into your inbox

Subscribe
Follow us

@gamedevdotcom

Follow us @gamedevdotcom to stay up-to-date with the latest news & insider information about events & more