Game on!

Physical distancing doesn’t mean social distancing. Staying in touch with family and friends is important. Games can be a way to connect with the kids in your life or to connect your kids with their friends and family while at home. Whether one, two or multi-player, there are some good options for free apps and online games for preschoolers to tweens to teens.

photo of iPad with children's app icons

The Association for Library Service to Children creates an annual Notable Children's Digital Media list that has web-based and app-based games for pre-k up through middle school (some free, some for a small fee) and the Excellence in Early Learning Digital Media Award has suggestions for younger children.

Common Sense Media posts reviews and rates based on developmental criteria and factors such as ease of play, positive messages, violence, and consumerism. Reviews from parents and kids are also available.Their site has lists of suggestions for free online games and free apps that can be sorted by age. 

Check out Online Games for Families to Play Together, an article from Parents magazine. It includes some classics and some new ones, and it’s a good starting point for multi-generational game ideas. Another article shares 15 free online learning games.

Board Game Arena has thousands of games for all ages--Connect Four, Battleship, Can't Stop, King Domino, and Carcassonne to name a few. Games can be played by inviting friends or joining tables. You can also change the language for the site and play.

If branded games are okay, many networks have kids gaming sites that tie in with their characters. Some of those are PBS Kids, Disney Jr., Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and Nick Jr

Toca Boca has a lot of different games that are great for creative, open-ended play. They offer a good amount of gameplay for free, but you can purchase additional content. 

Loteria is a traditional Latin American bingo game you can play on Google Doodle Loteria. Begin by clicking the red play button for the video at the top of your screen. You can play with friends by sharing the link it gives you.

And if you ask kids, they will say Minecraft! Minecraft Classic can be played for free online although players can't save their progress.

The 14-year-old gamer son of one of our librarians suggested Forza for middle schoolers and older. Forza is a series of car racing games that is available from Microsoft Games to play on different devices.

Whatever the gaming choice, talking with your children about going online is always a good idea. SafeKids.com, Connect Safely and the Federal Trade Commission have resources for parents and children.

Have fun and game on!

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