Ask Dr. Rachel: Tablets are great platform for toddlers to explore learning apps

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Will video games will make you lazy? Do you have any suggestions for what kinds of games would be great to play together with my young family? Should I let my young child watch me play games that are rated M for Mature?

Every month, our in-house scientific expert, Dr. Rachel Kowert, will address your questions about video games, video game effects and media studies, such as the ones above in her regular column, “Ask Dr. Rachel.”

Dear Dr. Rachel, I am unsure as to whether I should buy a tablet for my (2-year-old) son this Christmas. I hear that the apps can be great for learning but have also heard that games/apps can reduce attention span. What are your thoughts? —Conflicted parent from Texas

You are right in that there are many apps available today that provide a lot of opportunities to learn (one of my favorites for my toddler is Endless Learning Academy). Tablets are a great platform for toddlers to explore these apps as it is much easier for them to navigate a touch screen than say a controller on a games console or a mouse/touchpad on a computer.

While many people have raised concerns about its impact on attention span, you will be relieved to hear that there is no concrete scientific evidence to support these claims. In fact, some scholars believe that the use of games may actually help to train and extend one’s attention span over time.

For more on my thoughts about tablets for Christmas, you can check out this article.

Dear Dr. Rachel, I feel like I am a bit out of the loop when it comes to video games. Are there any “hot ticket” items this holiday season that I should be sure to check out? —Shopping in Pennsylvania  

It seems like every holiday there are at least a few game titles that everyone is trying to get their hands on. These are some of the top picks for this year:

For the little ones – Mario Odyssey is a charming platformer game that is perfect for the littlest of gamers in your household. Some of the puzzles may require a little help from Mom and Dad but critics are already saying that it is easily one of the best Mario titles ever released. 

For the not so little children – With an age recommendation of 10 or older, Zelda Breath of the Wild remains one of the most popular games of the year. With breath-taking graphics and classic action and adventure we’ve grown used to from the Zelda franchise. 

For the adults – If you are looking to buy a new video game for someone 18 or older this year, Resident Evil VII may be at the top of their list. Resident Evil has been the ‘go to’ zombie survivor game for some time now and this newest installment will surely not disappoint.

Another good choice for this crowd is the new Call of Duty: WWII. This series has always been widely popular and is a safe bet for anyone who likes war-themed games and/or first-person shooters.

Do you have a question you would like to ask Dr. Rachel? Send your question via twitter to @linacaruso using the hashtag #AskDrRachel and your question could be featured in next month’s column!

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