Kids will love these videos — and will learn a thing or two.
- Randy Kulman, Ph.D.
Gaming’s most recent evolution is the emergence of a surprising trend: Kids are spending an increasing amount of time watching others play video games. Sitting in the same room with peers or siblings while playing a game is not so new, but now sites such as Twitch, YouTube Gaming or Major League Gaming, where expert gamers compete against each other, are becoming incredibly popular.
Probably the most common way kids are tuning in to watch others play video games is on YouTube with “Let’s Play” videos. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to find Let’s Play videos that are appropriate for kids to watch or that contribute to learning important real-world skills. Here are some suggestions for finding videos that they’ll enjoy and will encourage further learning.
- 1. YouTube Kids app. A new portal developed by Google to curate appropriate kids’ content on YouTube. It includes more than Let’s Play videos and sometimes, because it is partly automated as well as responsive to user input, may let some unrelated material slip by, but it can be a useful tool to find videos that are engaging and appropriate.
- 2. LearningWorks for Kids Let’s Play. These videos are produced at LearningWorks for Kids, the leading website for optimizing the benefits of video game play for children’s learning. The Let’s Play videos of Minecraft are fast moving and fun, but also help kids recognize how they are using executive functioning skills such as planning, organization, time management and cognitive flexibility to master the game.
- 3. Pixelkin Let’s Plays. Pixelkin.org is a website that helps families play video games together and provides parents and kids with information about games that help exercise the brain. In addition to their Let’s Play videos (some of which teach parents to play Minecraft) they also offer a variety of videos on apps, game reviews and interviews on their YouTube channel.
- 4. Minecraft Let’s Plays on YouTube. There are many thousands (maybe millions) of Minecraft Let’s Plays available on YouTube. Finding those that are appropriate and engaging for kids can be a challenge. Here are a few that are special.
Randy Kulman, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist and founder and CEO of LearningWorks for Kids.