games for kids

Top 10 Computer Games for Kids

We’ve shown you how playing games can actually benefit your health.

But, some games are actually made to treat mental illnesses.

Here, we’ll show you ten games for kids and adults that educators and mental health professionals are praising for their mental health benefits.

Let’s check them out!

Education: Minecraft

What’s better for your brain than a good education?

One of the most educational games for kids is already your child’s favorite! This best-selling kids game is widely used as a teaching tool by professional educators.

Using Minecraft to teach history, geography, math, and science makes kids excited to learn and participate. Plus, it exercises imagination.

Players build their world however they want. They can explore, have adventures and interact with peers. It’s like a planet-sized room filled with toys and other kids.

Minecraft is also effective for teaching kids to code. Microsoft’s MakeCode for Minecraft gives kids hands-on coding lessons they can actually use in their game. Lessons range from the basics of programming languages to advanced levels of coding knowledge.

There’s even an official Education Edition of Minecraft that teaches a variety of subjects. And it’s all cleverly disguised as a fun game your kids already want to play.

Minecraft is $26.95, Education Edition and MakeCode for Minecraft are available for free.

Relaxation: Champions of the Shengha

Some games for kids can cause stress and bad attitudes. But here’s one game that actually teaches kids how to relax.

Champions of the Shengha depends on the player’s ability to de-stress. Players earn gems by practicing diaphragmatic breathing, a relaxation technique.

The game monitors heart-rate with a heart-rate monitor clipped onto the player’s earlobe. By measuring heart-rate variability, it can tell how successful the player is at relaxing their body. The better they relax, the more gems they earn.

Since stress is a major contributor to the leading causes of death in America, Champions of the Shengha could prolong players’ lives!

The game is free, but the required heart monitor is 39.95 pounds.

Mindfulness: Mindlight

This incredible game uses biofeedback to develop coping skills in children with anxiety disorders. Mindlight mixes innovative gameplay and science-based therapy techniques. Puzzles and startling “fear events” teach children to overcome fear with mindfulness techniques.

A neurofeedback headset detects the child’s emotional response when threatened. A fearful response makes the game go dark while staying calm lights it up. This light is necessary to solve puzzles.

This interactive exposure therapy trains children to turn their focus toward staying calm and solving the problem. Players also learn mindfulness and relaxation techniques to keep fear under control. The habits they develop in the game can be used to fight real-life anxiety.

Email their website to check availability. The headset costs 126.42 pounds.

Positivity: ReachOut Orb

ReachOut Orb is made for use in Australian classrooms to improve the mental health and well-being of 9th and 10th-grade students. The game helps students build a positive mindset, learn their strengths and practice resilience.

A force called the “Glitch” removes all the color from the playing area. Players must restore the color with positive energy, represented by an “Orb.” Players charge their Orb by typing in 3 positive things about their life.

Students start by taking a survey to determine their 3 personal strengths. The game specifically nurtures each student’s individual strengths. NPC’s teach players how to deal properly with difficult people.

Available on their website for educators in Australia.

Resilience: SuperBetter

SuperBetter is an app for children and adults 13 and up designed to teach resiliency under hard circumstances. It works very differently than a normal game. Instead of controlling a character on your computer, you use your computer to turn your life into an adventure game.

Players input goals on the SuperBetter app and update their progress. The app helps players structure their goals in creative ways including Completing Quests, Battling Bad Guys and Activating Power-Ups.

Depending on your progress, your resiliency score will go up or down. You actually get to keep score of your life!

You “beat” the game when you achieve an Epic Win (complete a big life goal). Then you get to pick a new Epic Win and Play again!

Start here for free.

CBT For Kids: Pesky gNATs

Many adults use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to overcome anxiety and mood disorders. But children with these disorders have a more difficult time understanding the complex concepts of CBT. Pesky gNATs was created by mental health professionals as a fun and easy way for children to learn the difficult concepts of CBT.

These concepts are represented in the game metaphorically. The gNATs stand for Negative Automatic Thoughts that trouble children with low mood and anxiety disorders. Trapping gNATs represents cognitive monitoring. Swatting gNATs represents cognitive restructuring, and so on.

Each level equals a standard CBT treatment session. There is also a corresponding mobile app that teaches the child how to apply the skills learned in the game.

The game is available only to licensed mental health professionals for 150 pounds.

Addiction and PTSD Treatment: Tetris

Yes, Tetris. Something about this ingeniously simple yet challenging game is scientifically proven to strengthen gray matter in the brain. Studies show that 30 minutes of daily Tetris training will thicken gray matter even in adult brains. This means the brain can perform certain functions better and with less fuel.

Tetris also reduces the cravings of several addictions. And it blocks traumatic memories of those with post-traumatic-stress disorder.

There are over 50 official versions of Tetris available on several platforms starting at $0.

Alzheimer’s Prevention: Brain Exercise with Dr. Kawashima

Brain training games are proven to improve cognitive functions, even in the elderly. Those who spend more time on brain-stimulating activities, like reading or playing puzzle games, are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Ryuta Kawashima is a renowned neuroscientist and creator of the popular Brain Age game series. He released a similar cognitive training game for PC called Brain Exercise with Dr. Kawashima.

It has 36 games designed to exercise the 3 main lobes of the brain one at a time. The games are split into 3 color-coded groups according to which lobe of the brain they exercise: frontal, parietal or temporal.

Brain Exercise with Dr. Kawashima is suitable for ages 3 and up. It’s available at Amazon for only $7 after shipping. Not a bad price for preventing Alzheimer’s.

Teen Depression Treatment: SPARX

SPARX was created by mental health professionals to treat depression in teens 12-19. Similar to Pesky gNATs, SPARX uses in-game metaphors to teach teens about CBT.

But unlike pesky gNATs, Sparx is an online game that any teen (in New Zealand) can download for free. Teens can use it wherever, whenever, as much or as little as they want.

SPARX has a fantasy theme so depressed teens get to be someone else. This takes their focus off their real problems and keeps them from feeling singled out.

Researchers found the game reduces teen depression at least as much as regular therapy. And it may reach depressed teens that would otherwise go untreated. Teens who refuse to talk about their feelings may be willing to try an online fantasy game as an alternative to traditional counseling.

SPARX also has a free support helpline for players. The game is currently only available in New Zealand, but the SPARX team is working to make it available internationally. For those in New Zealand, any teen can download it at home for free.

Self-Esteem Games For Kids: EyeSpy: The Matrix, Wham, Grow Your Chi

Psychologists from McGill University have developed 3 games for kids and adults to fight the causes of low self-esteem.

The first game, EyeSpy: The Matrix, has players pick one smiling face in a crowd of frowns. People with low self-esteem focus more on rejection than others do. This game is proven to remove this automatic bias.

The second game, Wham, has players click on words as quickly as they appear. Whenever they click on their own name or birthday, a smiling face appears.

Players are conditioned to associate their personal information with social acceptance. This replaces the automatic expectation of rejection with automatic thoughts of self-acceptance.

The third game, Grow Your Chi, is not fully researched yet. It includes the self-esteem boosting elements from both of the other games.

These games are free on their website.

Game Healthy

Your child’s PC gaming health depends on more than buying them that ergonomic standing desk you saw at Computer Desk Guru. Now that you know your options, give your kids a healthy screen-diet!

If you aren’t crazy about any of these titles, use this list as a jumping off point to find similar games to meet your needs.

For more ways that gaming can improve your health, check out our Top 5 Health Benefits of Gaming. Or check here for the latest gaming news.

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