As families hunker down at home to ride out the coronavirus — and caretakers struggle to squeeze in time for work or themselves — education experts are finally giving parents the OK to let computers, tablets and smartphones do a little baby-sitting.
Choose the right apps, and they might even learn something.
“There are a lot of choices and a lot of educational content,” Jordan Shapiro, author of “The New Childhood” (Little, Brown Spark), tells The Post. “It’s a good time for parents to relax screen rules for their kids — as long as they put boundaries on what is appropriate.”
Here, Shapiro and Jan Plass, a professor at NYU and co-author of “Handbook of Game-Based Learning” (the MIT Press), break down some smart digital games and educational resources for kids.
The popular video game, which has players explore a blocky world and brush up on digital “survival skills,” is “a great game in terms of spacial relationships, building and creativity,” says Shapiro. It can be engaged in solo or with others and is all about building a unique world to a kid’s personal specs. “It’s the equivalent of playing in a sandbox.” Ages 8 and up. For iPhone, Android, Mac and PC. Minecraft.net; $6.99
Good luck getting your kid to excitedly flip through a math textbook. But Prodigy, Plass says, is like “chocolate-covered broccoli” for burgeoning Einsteins. It’s a fantasy-themed math-based game “in which you spend half your time doing math as you gets points and stars for solving problems.” Ages 7 to 13. For for iPhone and Android. ProdigyGame.com; free
Trick your kids into a remote gym class with GoNoodle. Perfect for days indoors with no real physical activity, GoNoodle’s suite of funky games — including Flo Yo’s Bubble Pop and Squatchy Berger’s Rock and Roll — gets kids waving their hands and moving their bodies. Ages 4 and up. For iPhone. GoNoodle.com; free
Designed to develop the understanding of numbers and how they relate to one another, this is a puzzle game that fosters problem-solving skills. “Mathematical problems are built into the game,” says Shapiro. “But it’s designed so that kids are doing math without realizing it.” Ages 10 and up. App for iPhone and Android. BrainPop.com; $1.99
In this sneaky science game, kids channel digital sunlight and corral bees to help plants grow. Throughout, they learn about plants, seeds and the process of photosynthesis. And they’re not even annoyed about it, says Plass, because they’re “playing a [resource-management] game” that draws their attention away from the duller parts of the Calvin cycle. For middle-schoolers. Web-based. FilamentLearning.com; $5.99
Plass describes this one as “a perfect game for now.” Players captain a “fiscal ship” and, as laid out on the game’s Web site, “to win . . . you must find a combination of policies that address the [national] debt while meeting your chosen ideological views.” This is definitely one to be played for the long haul while we are all on lockdown — and as a bonus, it provides a less-scary entry point for you to talk to your kids about what’s happening in the world. Ages 14 and up. Web-based. FiscalShip.org; free