Most moms have probably found themselves wishing their children would spend less time playing games in front of the TV and more time in the “real world.” Fortunately, the Wii, a video game console released by Nintendo in 2006, has incorporated both physical and cognitive development into the world of gaming. Instead of hindering your child’s development, some Wii games may help promote several cognitive skills.
Features of the Wii
The Wii was one of the first gaming systems to use a wireless controller in a series of games that call for more physical movement than most traditional video games. While the system may be best known for this physical element, it has also made a name for itself by offering a range of easy-to-learn games that even non-gamers can pick up and play. The Wii remote control, called a Wiimote, transfers data on the position and movement of the controller to a sensor placed on the television screen. This technology allows you to perform full-body actions that are replicated by your digital avatar on the screen.
Math and Science
Turn your child’s play time into an entertaining review session for math and science. “Science Papa” walks players through a series of 30 scientific experiments with a background adventure story to keep the game interesting. “Donkey Kong Jr. Math,” available through the Wii virtual console, helps younger children brush up on basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division as they collect numbers and solve problems.
Memory and Problem-Solving
If you’re looking to test your memory or hone your problem-solving ability, give “Big Brain Academy,” “My Word Coach” or “Smarty Pants” a try. “Big Brain Academy” features 15 activities in categories like memory, math, analysis, visual recognition and quick thinking. “My Word Coach” teaches you or your child 17,000 words through a wide variety of memory and comprehension games. “Smarty Pants,” an interactive trivia game, allows multiple players to answer age-appropriate questions based on each player’s previous performance.
Researchers at the University of Rochester tested the effects of fast- and slow-paced video games on the decision-making speeds of a group of 18- to 25-year-olds who don’t usually play video games. The study found that the group who played a total of 50 hours of the fast-paced game increased their decision-making speed during a series of tasks with the same accuracy as the group who played a slow-paced video game. For Wii users, unlikely candidates such as “Call of Duty,” “Epic Mickey” and “Donkey Kong Country Returns” may still promote cognitive development.
Even with the benefits of cognitive Wii games, you can still have too much of a good thing. KidsHealth.org, a page provided by the Nemours Center for Children’s Health Media, recommends previewing all games for age-appropriate content before letting your child play. If you’re worried about the time your child spends playing the game, agree upon a daily or weekly limit, and provide an easy way to keep track, such as a kitchen timer.