Online Educational Games For Kids - The Big Gap

In our quest to find online educational games and learning activities for kids in kindergarten, preschool and first grades, we did a detailed study to see how well they fulfill parental expectations and needs. Our findings show significant gaps, indicating challenges and new opportunities for online educational websites for kids.

What do parents actually want?

Earlier surveys have shown that parents generally want their children to get used to computers at a young age, but not get addicted to the same. Parents expect children's websites to be informational, easy to use, and suitable for kids of varying ages. They look for games and activities that teach the kids the essential concepts of early childhood education, such as, numbers, alphabets, phonics, analytical skills etc. They also look for online stories, rhymes and other entertaining content. Studies have shown it to be highly effective, if the kids are taught in a subtle and entertaining manner, without giving them a burdened feeling that they need to learn. Such a fun learning approach goes a long way in addressing their short attention spans, and it is quite effective in motivating kids to learn.

Of course, in today's scenario, most parents are busy and find little time to sit along with their kids in front of the computer on a regular basis. Educational websites for kids need to be well designed for easy kid-friendly usage, and have the ability to engage young kids without the parents necessarily having to babysit them all the time.

What do most educational web sites offer?

To our surprise, our research showed that most kids education web sites fail to meet the above, rather basic expectations. We found a large number of websites offering online educational games, activities and content in a highly unorganized manner without any standardization. Each site had its own content and navigational structure, requiring kids to read and understand instructions on the screen, making it mandatory for an adult to help and supervise. Typically, most games are not age specific and unintuitive in their design. Large number of games relied on kid's hand-eye coordination, and did nothing in terms of helping them learn a new concept.

Even the more education-oriented websites, actually do not 'teach' or explain concepts to the kids. They pose questions in a game format that mainly 'test' what the kids already know. Teaching requires audio-visual content that explain the 'why' and 'how' of each topic in an age-specific manner. This is one of the biggest shortcomings of most of the web sites for early childhood education.

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