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It’s October 2nd so that means we are only 29 days away from Halloween! This is one of my favorite times of the year. A night full of candy, costumes, and everyone acting like kids. We’ve dug around to find some of the best nerdy dad Halloween costumes at a store or website near you. Check out our list and don’t forget to share your Nerdy Dad pics on our Twitter account (@nerdydadsco).

Top Nerdy Dad Halloween Costumes

The Classic Nerd

First up is your class nerd. Yes he has the high pants, big bow tie, and glasses with tape.

I’ll say the good thing is that being a nerd is different today. No longer the butt of jokes, nerds rule the world! From gaming to computers and the smartphone you’re reading this on nerds have contributed a lot to the world. So if you are in the mood to wave your nerd flag proudly this is the costume for you.

Be sure to go all the way with it and include the pocket protector. If anyone makes a joke you can calmly point out how you don’t have one pen mark on your shirt. Who is laughing now.

Pick up this jumpsuit at HalloweenCostumes.com for $39.99.

Wayne Szalinski

Let’s go back to the end of the ’80s. In 1989 Honey, I Shrunk the Kids was released staring Rick Moranis as Wayne Szalinski. The original was a hit at the box office and even held the title of Disney’s highest-grossing live-action film for five years.

Now it’s your turn to channel the hilarious and quirky Szalinkski, the inventor who accidentally shrinks his kids.

You can quickly and inexpensively pull this costume together. Stop at your local Wal-Mart, Target, Goodwill or any other store. All you’ll need is:

  • Red-rimmed glasses
  • Dress shirt (solid or small windowpane)
  • Khaki pants
  • Brown dress shoes and a belt

How far you want to take it is up to you. I’d encourage some type of odd head gear that looks like you’re trying to call Mars. If you really want to goo all out you can paint small figures to look like your actual kids. Keep these in your pocket to get a good laugh out of friends and colleagues.

The one area I can’t actually help with is the shrinking ray. If you do happen to come across one please let me know!

Dark Helmet

My mind must be focused on Rick Moranis because here he comes again as Dark Helmet in the movie Spaceballs.

Besides making us laugh, and sometimes cringe, Dark Helmet is an excellent nerdy dad Halloween costume! He’s funny, goofy, and the outfit won’t be tough to make. Stop by any Halloween costume outlet and grab an extra large Darth Vader outfit. If you’re a DIY type of dad creating the helmet with your kids can be a fun weekend project.

While this post is supposed to light-hearted I’d be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to form stronger passwords than Dark Helmet. 1-2-3-4-5 is a bad password for your online accounts and your luggage. To quote the famous Dark Helmet:

1-2-3-4-5? That’s the stupidest combination I’ve ever heard of in my life! That’s the kinda thing an idiot would have on his luggage!

Sheldon Lee Cooper Ph.D., Sc.D.

The Big Bang Theory is one of those shows I can watch over and over again. The characters and plot just make me laugh without control.

If you’re looking to go nerdy this Halloween, but also want to have some pop-culture reference your children might understand then Sheldon is your character. He’s smart, funny, and no one could argue he isn’t nerdy.

For dads looking to involve your kids in your costume decision Sheldon presents the perfect opportunity. Dad goes as Sheldon. Your child goes as Young Sheldon. It’s perfect for a fun and collaborative costume design.

Emmett Lathrop “Doc” Brown

Last, but not least, in our nerdy dad Halloween costumes review is Doc Brown from Back to the Future.

Released in 1985 this movie is still one of my all-time favorites 35 years later. I guess others agree because in 2008 the good Doc was selected one of the 100 greatest movie characters of all time by Empire magazine.

A Doc Brown costume doesn’t have to be elaborate. Get some out of control long white hair, a lab coat, and make some crazy eyes. You’ve pretty much got what you need! If you happen to own a DeLorean I believe this costume might be required 😉


Halloween is a fun time of year! Candy and dressing up in whatever you can imagine is a fun way to relax. And let’s be honest, we all need to take some extra time to relax and enjoy life after the way 2020 has behaved. No matter what you decide to be this Halloween I hope you and your family have fun.

Now, get to making some costumes and don’t forget to stock up on candy. Kit-Kat or Butterfingers is always my favorite.

Adults love asking kids what they want to be when they grow up. At one point I know I was destined to be a professional soccer player, astronaut, and race car driver. At a young age these answers can be funny. However, what is a parent to do when their high-schooler says they want to be a professional gamer?

The knee-jerk reaction for many parents is that it’s a silly idea and not a “real” career path. For less nerdy parents and those who don’t understand esports this declared profession can be a cause for alarm. Can a person actually earn a living playing games? Is this a real career or a hoax? How does one even enter this profession? All of these are great questions and by the end of this post you’ll have a bit more insight into the world of competitive gaming.

What Is A Professional Gamer?

Think of a professional gamer as any other professional. They play a sport that others watch and admire. The pro has an advanced skill level that allows them to compete with the best in the business. Michael Jordan was a professional basketball player. Johan “N0tail” Sundstein is a professional Dota 2 player. Pro gamers earn a living by competing in and winning competitions. Just like other sports sponsorships can also make up a large part of a player’s earnings.

Esports, the proper term for games played competitively, is a real industry just like traditional pro sports. Many people want to play in the NFL but will never get the chance. Likewise to compete in esports a player must be experts. Passion for gaming isn’t enough to make it to the top. For example, esports competitors must be able to manage up to 400 movements on their keyboard and mouse in a minute. Intense focus and concentration are also required. Tournaments are filled with cheering fans and the fast-paced nature of competitive gaming means decisions must be made in split seconds.

Yes, They Have Training

Competitive gamers are far from the stereotypical middle-age gamer living in their parent’s basement sucking down Red Bull. Pros today must train just like athletes in other sports. If you’ve ever sat at a computer for any length of time you know it can be physically trying. Stiff shoulders and neck along with pain in the wrists and hands. Players must manage these strains while handling cortisol levels that are comparable to those produced by race car drivers.

Training is also required to maintain and improve hand-eye coordination. For those of us that play games recreationally we well understand that excelling and winning isn’t natural or easy. With the intense graphics and action in games today decision making and hand-eye coordination is difficult to master.

For those of you doubting that gaming requires training check out this short (4:22) video on how a college esports team trains for success.

Wait. College Esports?

You read that correctly. Colleges offer esports programs and now have competitive gaming teams. Just like playing college basketball is a step towards the NBA, playing on a collegiate esports team is one path to becoming a professional gamer.

If your child already excels at gaming and has won some awards you might want to encourage their passion. Colleges today offer scholarships for esports. If your children show potential with gaming it could be a ticket to college. Other sports have collegiate associations and so does esports in the form of The National Association of Collegiate eSports (NACE). Today NACE reports over 170 schools and 5,000+ student-athletes in the U.S. alone.

If your child shows promise in esports and you’re considering schools they might attend review the NACE directory of colleges with esports teams. You can filter by game and the profile for each school provides contact info for coaches.

College Esports Resources

In no particular order I’ve provided below some helpful links for parents researching esports. I realize a child saying they want to go to college to play games might be worrisome. However, after conducting your own research you may be surprised to find this is a real possibility.

Esports Scholarships lists, as you might’ve guessed, scholarships for esports. Filter by region and division as well as by private or public schools.

A list of varsity esports programs across North American and compiled by ESPN.

The internet is full of additional resources. A simple query in your favorite search engine will return tons of articles and listicles. Many schools also offer information for parents on esports as they understand it isn’t a traditional path for students to take.

Career Potential

So maybe you’re excited that your child’s gaming obsession could land some scholarship dollars. Any assistance paying for college is always welcome! However, what about post-graduation? How will your child live if they are “just” a professional gamer?

I could go on about following your passion and living on your own terms. Some of that likely applies here. Rather, I’ll discuss that professionals can pull down some serious bucks from gaming.

Remember Johan “N0tail” Sundstein I mentioned previously? The 26 year-old from Denmark has earned $6.9 million over his career spanning 121 tournaments. This doesn’t include sponsorship money. Now I won’t argue that this is the norm. It is certainly an exception. However, when we encourage kids to play football and other sports we know the odds of them signing a multi-million dollar deal with a pro team is highly unlikely. If they are so lucky as to land a spot in the pro ranks though the earnings can be huge.

Sponsors such as Red Bull, Nike, and BMW are getting in on the action. With big names come big sponsor dollars. From tournaments to jerseys and individual players it is possible for professional gamers to earn a respectable living with sponsorships. These large brands understand that esports draws a huge crowd. The potential to get their message in front of an engaged audience is very appealing. Not to mention they can reach a larger audience than via traditional sports with a stadium.

Potential Downsides

So by now every reader with a child interested in gaming sees a scholarship solving the college tuition question. Not so fast. As I mentioned above the odds of becoming a college-level or pro gamer are low. Like any other sport every enthusiast wants to be a pro, but only the top 1%, if that, ever make it.

We’ve written previously on this site about how technology benefits children. While tech can be positive parents should look out for some of the downsides.

Mental Fatigue

Performing at the top of any field, sports or otherwise, takes a toll mentally. If a child feels added pressure to perform to maintain a scholarship they may become fatigued. Watch for signs of burnout like sleeping more than normal or not enjoying gaming anymore. Yes gaming can be a career and every career has pressure. As parents we must moderate and ensure our kids are well-rounded and do more than just game.

Physical Issues

Many professional gamers are required to exercise. It may not be as intense as NFL players, but they are required to get out and move about. Younger gamers and aspiring pros may not have that discipline. They may incorrectly believe that they have to spend hours upon hours in front of a screen. Following proper screen hygiene practices will help prevent lasting physical damage. Be sure your kid gets up and enjoys fresh air daily. It’s also important that gaming doesn’t consumer their entire life. Wanting to practice and excel is admirable. Losing family and friends as a result is not so great.


At first glance aspiring to be a professional gamer might seem silly. Parents want what is best for their children. We naturally get worried if they want to pursue something we don’t understand or look down upon. I’d encourage parents who have aspiring pro gamers at home to take the time to learn about their child’s passion. Why do they enjoy gaming? Is it something you could also learn to enjoy with them? If nothing else showing support is important. Esports are gaining in popularity and acceptance around the world. Some of us “older folks” might not get it, but the same can also be said for some of our hopes and dreams when we were young. Like anything else in life it’s important to do your homework to fully appreciate the facts and arrive at your own conclusion. For what it’s worth, as an adult I still think it would be awesome to be a pro gamer!

It can be difficult to find quality time with the family between work, school, and other obligations. One of the best parts about the weather turning cooler is more time indoors. To avoid everyone migrating to tablets, phones, and gaming systems I’ve come up with a list of the best family board games for you to enjoy this fall and winter. These games are 100% technology free. That might seem odd from a Nerdy Dads writer, but sometimes quality time without tech is just what you need.

It’s important to put down the devices every now and again. Spending quality time with family provides an opportunity to laugh, bond, and build memories together. Board games can entertain everyone from young to old.

Best Family Board Games

Watch Ya Mouth

First up we have Watch Ya Mouth. This game is sure to keep the family laughing for hours. The objective is to get your family to understand a silly phrase you read off a card. The catch? You have to wear a mouth guard (cheek retractor technically speaking) while you say the phrase. The game is great for large gatherings so this is one you want to take on those family holiday trips.

Recommended for ages 8+ just about anyone can join in on the fun. The game comes with 140+ phrases, all family-friendly. That shouldn’t stop you from coming up with your own silly phrases if you want to add a personal twist to the game.

Jenga

Here is a game that takes me back. Jenga is a class family-night game that is easy to set up and fun to tear down. Players start with a tower made of 54 wooden blocks. The game starts easy enough with each player removing a single block. If a player causes the tower to fall over they lose. Jenga is great for players of all ages, though it is recommend for kids 6+. Jenga is a great way to include your kids in a family-friendly game. It’s up to you if you dive right in and start removing blocks or formulate a strategy first. Having played with young kids before I can attest that the tower collapsing brings more joy than strategy.

Jenga

My First Orchard

It can be tough to play board games with young children, especially those under 6. The primary concern for me was always a child eating a game piece when I wasn’t looking. My Very First Orchard from HABA is a game designed for young players.

The objective is to harvest all the fruit before that pesky black bird reaches the end of a path. Designed for 1-4 players a round can be played in 10 minutes making this a great choice for those with shortened attention spans. What is also interesting is that the game is collaborative. So a single person doesn’t win or lose, rather all players are on the same team. This keeps feelings from being hurt while providing youngsters a chance to learn strategy and team work.

Connect Four

Fast paced action for 2 players can be found in Hasbro’s Connect Four. Each player will select a set of disks, either red or yellow. The first player to connect four disks in a row is the winner. Disks can be connected vertically, horizontally, or diagonally leaving each player a chance to select their own strategy and respond to their opponent. If your kids love tic tac toe then Connect Four will be a hit!

Connect Four

Scrabble

It’s tough to create a list of the best family board games without including Scrabble.

Scrabble is a classic word game where players attempt to form words by placing squares with a single letter on a board. Words can be created in rows or columns, similar to a crossword puzzle. Words must be included in a standard dictionary making this an excellent way to have fun with family while improving everyone’s vocabulary.

Designed for children 8+ Scrabble is for 2-4 players. Younger family members can also get involved, but you may need to assist with creating words or play as a team.

Scrabble

Guess Who?

A classic guessing game makes Guess Who? an essential part of your game drawer. Players each select a character and take turns asking yes/no questions to figure out the other player’s character. Once a player thinks they know an opponent’s character they can venture a guess. If they are right, they win! If not, they lose. Parents looking for a fun way to teach their children logic and how to make educated guesses will love Guess Who?. It’s fun that even adults will enjoy!

Monopoly

Ah Monopoly, so many great memories with this game!

This game has been around for ever it seems and has changed with the time. From the classic board game to a Pokemon version, you can find 21 unique Monopoly board game versions.

Regardless of the version you select the mission is always the same. Pass Go to collect your $200 and go on a real estate buying spree to rule the board. Children and parents will enjoy the time spent buying and selling property and coming up with plans to create a real estate empire.

Monopoly is one of those games that is fun and can teach kids valuable life lessons. Spend too early or buy low earning property and watch your bank dwindle. Make wise purchases, however, and you will be flush with Monopoly dollars.

Dads, if your kids show a real flare for Monopoly you might have a real estate tycoon on your hands in a few years so be sure to play nice!

Trivia Pursuit

I’ll round out my list of best family board games with Trivia Pursuit.

With 1,400+ questions in categories ranging from science to entertainment, sports, arts, literature, and more, Trivia Pursuit will keep your family entertained for hours. Designed for players 8+ years of age you can get 2-6 people in on a game. Create teams for even larger family gatherings.

Pro tip: if you really want to up the fun mix older decks of question cards with newer decks. This will keep everyone on their toes and keep the fun going for hours.


Writing this post brought back a bunch of great memories of being a kid myself. Family board games are important for so many reasons. Chief among those reasons is that they require no technology, which means to interruptions with texts, tweets, likes, or emails. Board games present an opportunity for families to sit together and have fun.

As the weather turns cooler and we spend more time indoors I encourage parents to dust off some old games and play with your kids. They likely have fond memories of playing when they were younger. If your kids are young and have never played these games before then their is no better time than now to get them started.

Happy board gaming!

Mobile apps and games can be a great distractions for kids when you’re busy. However, parents must take steps to prevent children from making in-app purchases or those few minutes of silence may cost you dearly. It’s not that kids maliciously decide to rack up a large tab purchasing in-app items. Games have been designed to be engaging and motivate players to reach the highest levels. This sometimes requires that purchases be made. With the simple tap of a button kids can buy a limitless number of in-game items.

Most children aren’t out to spend all your hard-earned money on in-app purchases. Some kids are even too young to understand that what they are doing is a problem. They instinctively press bright and flashy buttons. They then notice they get extra coins, other in-game currency, or access to a new feature. The kid doesn’t know this costs real world money to they keep pressing away, delighted that they found a simple method to maximize their gaming experience.

Prevent Children From Making In-App Purchases

Turn Off In-App Purchases

Simply turning off all in-app purchases is the quickest method to stopping unapproved spending by a youngster. Thankfully this task is fairly simple for both Android and iOS devices.

Android

If you have an Android device you can turn off in-app purchases as follows:

Google Play > Settings > User Controls > Set or Change PIN > Back to User Settings > Use PIN for Purchases

iOS

Settings > Screen Time > Enable Screen Time > Select This is My Phone or This is My Child’s Phone > Set Your Password or a Parent Password (if a child’s phone) > Content and Privacy Restrictions > Enter Your Password > Activate Content and Privacy > Select iTunes > App Store Purchases > In-App Purchases > Select Don’t Allow

The process requires a few more steps for iOS, but the same end result is achieved. Your kids will no longer be making in-app purchases and racking up a surprise bill.

Parents should also look into smartphone substitutes for younger children. If your child is at an age where a full-blown iPhone isn’t necessary many lite devices exist that are reasonably priced and remove access to app stores and the web.

Discuss In-App Purchases

I’m sure many dads can relate to the following scenario. You tell your child “no” on something for whatever reason. Your “no” leads to a barrage of “why not?!” questions from your kid.

Even if you don’t get a bunch of “why not” style questions it’s important to explain to your child why a decision is being made. This is important to start building analytical skills and understanding reasons behind decisions.

Take the time to open an app or share your surprise bill and put the costs in terms your child will understand. If they receive an allowance break out how many chores or weeks it would take them to earn the in-app item they want to purchase.

For kids, seeing bright and flashy buttons that promise rewards can be enticing. Even for adults we can get sucked into the allure of buying power-ups and other items.

Set Boundaries

Part of growing up is learning to manage responsibilities. If your child is at an appropriate age to understand that in-app purchases cost real world money you may have a learning opportunity at hand.

Explain that the purchases aren’t just coins in the game and cost you, the parent, actual money. Also explain in terms your child will understand how it takes effort to make money. For example, you might say it would take the entire week of taking out the trash to earn one in-game item from their favorite game. This helps the child grasp the idea that nothing is free.

You can then set guidelines on what is and is not acceptable. One approach might be to trade physical allowance for in-app purchases. So if you child does all their chores for the week they can purchase 1 or 2 items in their favorite game. This has the added benefit of introducing the idea of opportunity cost. We can’t have our in-game purchases and normal allowance. A decision must be made between the two.

Also be sure to discuss boundaries in regards to screen time. Adults and kids alike need to practice healthy screen time behaviors.

Use Monitoring Apps

Frequent readers of Nerdy Dads will know that I advocate for discussions as opposed to using monitoring apps. I’ve always felt a child will appreciate the respect shown when they are treated like an adult and not a thief. With that said, monitoring apps can help parents keep an eye on what their kids are buying and downloading.

While it is a personal choice I’d recommend using parental controls for gaming apps prior to using a monitoring solution. Either way you decide to go I still suggest having a discussion with your child. Turning an obstacle into a learning situation is much better than the potential fallout of installing monitoring apps.


Games are fun! I’ll be the first to say it and also the first to admit that I’ve dropped a few bucks on in-app items. I’ve presented a few solutions to prevent children from making in-app purchases. Of course, downloading games that don’t require any purchases is also a solution. At the end of the day in-app goodies can make games more fun and engaging. It’s ok to have fun, it just needs to be reasonable and not end up with a surprise bill at the end of the month.

This post will be very appealing to kids and dads who think video games can be educational. I realize for some parents promoting more screen time for kids might seem crazy. I’ll do my best in this piece to argue that you can teach your kids finance with a video game. Life lessons gained from gaming can be valuable. Gaming is fun and we tend to remember fun things. Finance can be a bit dry and stuffy, which makes it harder to remember.

So this is may attempt to convince some parents out there that allowing your kids some extra time with certain games can be advantageous for their education.

The Game

The game that has captured my focus in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Released in March 2020 for the Nintendo Switch Animal Crossing was nearly an instant hit. At first glance the game doesn’t seem to be anything special. Players explore an island and get to go about making it their own. Tasks include chopping wood, pulling weeds, and other chores.

So a game about chores, huh? Kids will surely love this!

Thankfully the primary objective of New Horizons isn’t to chop wood or catch bass. Those are simply means goals. As they are the means to an end with that end being selling the fruits of your labor for bells (in-game currency). With bells in hand players can customize the island almost any way you see fit. Design your own clothes, add rooms to a house, or create other structures. Players can use their imagination to do pretty much anything so long as you have the bells to fund your dreams.

Replace bells with cash and this starts to sound like real life. We do some task, get cash, then get to spend that cash on stuff we like. This is where the learning comes into play. To make the best life for your character in New Horizons, players need to have some good money management skills. The skills learned during game play can translate to real life.

Teach Your Kids Finance With A Video Game

Below are the best personal finance lessons that I could glean from Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I won’t claim to be a financial whiz, but as an adult who has to manage finances for a family I can say these lessons are valuable.

Budgeting

Players can earn bells in New Horizons and spend them immediately. It can be a bunch of fun dashing about and buying whatever you like. Some people even try this in real life. They get a paycheck and head out to buy shoes, gadgets, or any number of items.

In Animal Crossing, just like in real life, if you spend all your hard earned bells the second you get them you don’t have a chance to save up for higher priced items. Yes, you get the immediate gratification of making a purchase. Your player, however, will never get to build an awesome bridge if they keep spending all their bells.

Just like in life knowing what you want, having a plan to get it, and saving are key to success.

Self-Control

So you’ve discussed the concept of a budget with your kid and they see the value. That’s great! Now it just comes down to the old self-control.

Once your child has a plan in place for what they want to purchase they have to avoid the urge to make impulse purchases. Sure buying the new deluxe washer will be awesome now, but it will increase the time it takes to save up to buy that new house.

This lesson can be easily translated to the real world. Next time you’re at the store and your kids wants something explain that it isn’t in the budget. Tie the real world lesson to New Horizons and see if that helps your child understand. It might not always work, but it helps to impart the lesson that saving for a goal requires some level of restraint.

Recognize the Value of Your Work

Dads, how many of you are DIY or “hands on” and seem to be able to fix anything? It’s a valuable skill in life since you don’t have to call someone every time a drain backs up. If you are so skilled you’ve probably saved a bunch of money over the years doing small tasks yourself.

Animal Crossing helps to teach kids a similar lesson. In the game fruit sells for a low price. At 100 bells it would take forever to save up to buy the 82,000 bell electric guitar. In the game players can turn simple items, like fruit, into much high-priced goods, like wallpaper.

This helps drive home the point that if you have the skills others lack you can save a few bucks. If you are so inclined you can also leverage your skills to make some extra cash via side hustles.

Buy Smart Using Coupons

I’m not ashamed to admit that I seek out rewards programs, coupons, and any promo that can save some money. It’s not that I can’t pay full price, but if I can get 10% off a purchase why shouldn’t I? The money I save can go to saving, paying bills, or having fun.

Once your kids get into New Horizons and learn this lesson they will have a new appreciation for your wise decisions. Go dad!

In New Horizons players can use little tricks to save some bells. For example, shopping with Sahara the camel can help you earn tickets for each rug you purchase. Think of it like a rewards program at your local coffee shop.

Shop smart and watch your cash and bells grow. The quicker you save up the faster you can buy that sweet guitar you have always wanted.

Be Careful With Speculation

I have a friend who is a financial advisor. He bought Animal Crossing for his kid, but ended up playing it more frequently. The main attraction was the “stalk market” that uses turnips. The setup works like this: a little pig appears each Sunday and is ready to sell vegetables at a fixed cost. Local shopkeepers might then buy up the veggies at a higher price – if you’re lucky.

Just like in the real stock market, the “stalk market” has no guarantee that you won’t take a bath on your investment. The turnips will spoil so time is of the essence. If your turnips turn while prices are low and you cannot sell, you’re left with rotten vegetables. Not very useful.

In the real world we’ve all read about some day trader who made a fortune on a stock. What we don’t hear about as frequently are the majority of traders who turn a large sum into a tidy bundle of nothing, nada, $0.

Risk can pay off, but players need to be careful taking that risk. Get on the wrong side of a turnip trade and you will lose bells. For older kids interested in the stock market this would be a great introductory lesson.

A Lesson In Interest Rates

The final lesson in finance involves interest rates.

As an adult you likely know that interest rates dictate a lot in life. How much you pay for a loan and how much you earn with a savings account. Animal Crossing surprised players with a reduction in interest rates in April.

It’s yet another lesson for kids on how a change in rates can impact their savings and how much debt will cost them.


Some of my favorite games are those that can be played by kids and adults alike with something for everyone. If you can teach your kids finance with a video game while they have fun I’m all for it. If you haven’t picked up New Horizons yet it isn’t too late. Grab a copy and give your kids the gift of fun and education. You might even pick up some good habits if you join in on the fun!

If you are a dad and you enjoy gaming from time to time, is it a good idea to introduce your child to this activity? Many parents believe that gaming is bad for kids, but the truth is that it all comes down to a few important things. The way you introduce your child to gaming, the games you play, and how much time the child plays per day are all important factors. Once you address these concerns with the right approach you may be surprised to find that dads should include their kids in gaming.

This article describes a few benefits of introducing your kids to gaming. It goes beyond spending quality time together and can have many benefits.

Reasons Why Dads Should Include Their Kids in Gaming

Improving Coordination

One important reason why dads should want to introduce their children to gaming is because games can improve coordination. Many games rely on fast reflexes. From racing to adventure and sports, numerous exciting video games exist that dads can play with their children.

It may sound a bit too good to be true, but gaming can improve coordination. A study found that young adults who play 5+ hours per week displayed better coordination. The gamer group was better able to keep a car in a lane during a game versus a non-gamer group.

Boosting the Brain’s Speed

Games will introduce your child to speed challenges and tasks that need to be solved within a certain amount of time. The best part about this is your child will have no problem thinking faster and finding solutions.

From personal experience, Tetris as a kid helped me think faster. The blocks keep falling and you have to visualize where they should go before time is up. While a simple game compared to titles available today, Tetris was very tricky. It required the ability to think ahead while rapidly moving the controller and manipulating the blocks. Addictive for a young kid? Heck yes! It was also a great way to help the brain think faster.

Foster Attention to Details

Lots of games require kids to pay attention to the details. There are a lot of puzzles they can solve, but the details are hidden. It’s very beneficial for kids, since they learn how to pay close attention, and that alone can make a huge difference.

Think about all the adventure games with hidden treasures. Finding those items can be more fun than actual missions. To collect all the in-game loot, however, requires attention to the details. Many items are hidden so you have to spot anomalies in the game and have a sense of adventure.

Enhancing Social Skills

I might lose a few dads here. Most people don’t think of gaming as being a social activity. The stereotype of a guy in front of a computer in a dark room is portrayed in multiple movies.

However, video games are a great way for kids to connect with others. They can make a lot of new friends via gaming while remaining safe with proper parental controls.

Remaining social is especially important right now. With many schools adopting a virtual classroom model kids need an outlet and opportunity to play with friends. Spending some time gaming with friends can help provide some much needed socialization.

Games Make Learning Fun

Many kids learn how to type by playing games. Educational games bring together the excitement of play with the value of learning. The lessons learned can go much further than just typing.

Kids can learn about history (Oregon Trail), markets and economy (Animal Crossing), and problem solving (many RPG/adventure titles). Not to mention that overcoming adversity is a lesson in and of itself. Games present many challenges without real world repercussions. A child might fail at defeating a final level multiple times. When they do finally achieve victory they will feel a sense of accomplishment and learn that determination pays off.


Gaming can occasionally take a bad rap. From conversations with colleagues and paying attention to trends it seems like younger parents are more receptive to kids gaming. I know my opinion is biased since I have always enjoyed gaming. It is my belief that dads should include their kids in gaming to help build valuable skills, teach some life lessons, and share a wonderful hobby.

With colder weather just a few months away now might be a great time to think about introducing your kids to some of your favorite games. You’re bound to have fun and you might even be surprised to find the youngster has some natural super-gamer abilities!

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we interact with people. It removed those cool movie nights, game sessions and cinema experiences from our daily lives. That means we need to adapt, and playing games online with the entire family can become a great social experience for all of us. If you’re not sure what games to play, here you have a list of cool, fun games you can play with your family at home.

Games You Can Play With Your Family at Home

Skribbl.io

The main idea behind Skribbl.io is that you create a room that the entire family can join. One lucky person draws something, and the other people need to name the item/character/thing. The person drawing selects from a list of three options and has only 80 seconds to put the word into a visual creation. It’s an enjoyable game because you never know what people are drawing. The faster you guess, the more points you get. Skribbl.io has multiple rounds per game, so the more guesses you have, the higher the chances you have to win the game.

Mario Kart Tour

Any Mario game automatically ranks as one of our top games to play with your family.

Mario Kart Tour is an exciting racing game that can be played with up to seven friends. All you need is to download the game, connect with your family members via the Nintendo account and race against them. The game covers a multitude of races inspired by real-world locations. It’s also a blast to play, regardless of your age.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, each one of your family members has their own island. You can design and build anything you want on the island, and anyone can visit you whenever they want. The game is a unique virtual gathering space. Plus, it’s very cathartic, fun and full of customization options. That means no two people will have the same island layout or design.

For the extra Nerdy Dads out there, Animal Crossings: New Horizons also presents a fun way to introduce your child to financial topics. For the Nerdy finance dads if you haven’t tried Animal Crossing yet you really have to give it a go. Be forewarned: you may end up playing more than the kids!

Golf Battle

The main strength of Golf Battle comes from testing your skills. At its core, the idea is simple, everyone competes on three golf courses per session, and the person with the lowest score wins. You will need to employ a strategy to find new ways to lower your score every time if you want to win. The game allows you to play 1 v 1, and you can also play with up to six Facebook friends at once.

If your golf game is like mine in the real world you might be dismayed to find that Golf Battle doesn’t come with a “foot wedge” option. Apparently my strategy if kicking the ball into the fairway isn’t real golf 😉

QuizUp

If you and your family like quizzes, QuizUp is the perfect game for you. You can play the game against friends in real-time, and you can also discover like-minded people. On top of that, the game covers a variety of topics, from pop culture to history, music, cooking, books and countries. With such a variety of subjects everyone in the family can enjoy the game.


Even if you’re in lock down, there are still lots of ways to enjoy your time and have fun with your family. Playing online games is one of the best and most relaxing social activities. There’s definitely no shortage of games. All you have to do is pick the right game genre and enjoy some amazing times with your entire family!

Have you ever thought it would be cool to turn your child’s doodles into a game? With DoodleMatic you can create playable games from your children’s drawings. Even from your own drawings if you’re up for the challenge! At its core, DoodleMatic takes your art and converts it into a game by using colors recognized by the app. You can even share your child’s creation with other game builders and doodlers.

How To Create Playable Games

The Magic

DoodleMatic allows you to create two types of games. The first style is the platform game. This is where the character jumps from platform to platform in the pursuit of some goal. Kids can also make a launch-style game (think Angry Birds) where the character is launched with the objective of knocking over targets. The game you design and what the players can do is all driven by the colors used.

The colors you can use and their actions are:

  • Black – the platform or ground
  • Red – obstacles that end the game if touched by the character
  • Blue – the goal(s)
  • Green – your character

For any dads that are part of the DIY/maker movement and want to get your kids involved in the maker movement, this is a great introductory step! Combining drawing, which is fun by itself, with creating your own game gives a child an awesome amount of power. They are able to create their own, custom game that can be shared with friends and family. It can really help open a child’s eyes to the power of technology and what they can do with a little imagination.

The Game Play

The game will play depending on what you built. Either the launcher style or platform jumper style. The in-game character will bounce around trying to avoid the red obstacles while pursuing the blue goals. It’s easy, fun, and great for youngsters.

By relying on the colors used to determine the game play kids can create anything they can imagine. As you might imagine this comes with some trial and error. Once a game is drawn your child will take a picture through the app. On some occasions the game won’t work as expected. The child has to go back, make some edits, and try again.

For any dad in software development, and other fields I’m sure, trial and error is part of the daily job. Literally building something, finding it doesn’t work, and trying again is what I do every day. DoodleMatic helps kids learn that just because something doesn’t work they shouldn’t give up. It’s usually just a small tweak here and there for the game to work properly.

DoodleMatic Availability

The DoodleMatic app is available on the App Store and Google Play Store.

The physical component of the game comes in a box with everything you need to get started. The guides will walk your child through how to create specific in-game behavior. The step-by-step tutorial also explains the use of colors and how each color will impact what happens in the game.

The basic out-of-the-box game is great for children 3+. As your kids get more comfortable with the game advanced features are available that make objects move in the game. At the initial outset all you will need are the app and the correct colors.

Why I Like DoodleMatic

For a child to be able to create playable games is a very educational and empowering activity. As I mentioned above they learn about trial and error and that a mistake isn’t the end of the world. Building that resilience and creativity at an early age will pay off down the road. As opposed to software development where hunting for an error can take a great deal of effort, fixing mistakes in DoodleMatic is rather quick. This ensures your child learns how to resolve errors, but isn’t too difficult to be discouraging.

Once the game is up and running your child can share it with friends and family. It’s another huge confidence booster to have built a game others can enjoy. The positive feedback from others enjoying something you’ve built is amazing. I personally love to design and develop something and hear that the end users enjoy what I’ve built. It means I’ve done my job and provided another person with a solution that brings them joy or makes life easier. Either way I’m happy.

Finally, DoodleMatic provides an easy intro to design and can segue into further lessons in teaching your children how to code.


With the holiday season approaching way faster than I thought the DoodleMatic should be on any parent’s list. Fun, educational, and an excellent opportunity to spend time with your child the game is fun for the whole family.

You kids have finally reached the age where you can play video games together. It’s every gamer dad’s dream when the kids can move beyond board games and get into video gaming. Now the question arises: should dads let their kids win at games?

Ask any number of dads and you’ll get slightly different answers ranging from “never” to “it depends”. It’s a tough question since every dad wants to set a good example for their children. Read on for our take on the matter.

Should Dads Let Their Kids Win At Games?

Our short answer is: it depends. It depends on your child’s age and if you are trying to teach a specific lesson. I know “it depends” is a lousy answer, so let’s break it down a bit.

Teach Good Sportsmanship

Younger kids don’t really care about winning or losing. Ever played a game with a toddler? They just want to have fun and occasionally try to put something in their mouth. At this stage game play should be about sharing and learning to take turns. Admittedly, most dads aren’t putting their kids behind an Xbox controller at this stage. During the younger years you can develop your child’s love for games with board games.

Once your child hits preschool is when you can expect some competitive behavior to surface. Games become more challenging and starts to require some level of skill. Strategy games, like checkers, are some of the early games kids pickup at this stage. Parents should focus on having fun and learning to share when playing games with younger kids. Once they hit preschool, however, playing by the rules starts to become important.

Be a Role Model

Now your kids are old enough to understand and play by the rules. You might even be getting into some easier video games. At this stage the question of “should I let my kid win” becomes important.

My personal thought on the matter is that kids need to learn how to win and lose with grace. Yes, winning is important in life. However, everyone will eventually lose. Teaching your child how to be a good winner and loser will help them later in life when the stakes are higher than beating dad at Super Smash Bros.

Dads should let their kids win on occasion. This shows the child that you can play a game, lose, and still have fun. It’s an opportunity to teach by example. Of course, you should also win and demonstrate how to be a good winner. Yes, the victory dance will serve to highlight how poor of a dancer you are and likely confuse your child. The real lesson is in how you’ve won and been graceful in your victory. We all have encountered the sore winner. The person who wins then is a complete jerk about it to everyone else in the office or on the team. My objective has always been to avoid raising a jerk.

Letting Your Child Win

Most of us, contrary to what our bumper stickers say, aren’t raising a child prodigy. If you are then you can skip this section. For the rest of us, our kids will most likely see us winning more than losing. To avoid game fatigue from losing more often than not dads can handicap themselves to level the playing field, much like in golf.

How you handicap yourself is up to you. Play against more kids. Start with less items in your character’s inventory or give your kid a head start. Whatever route you decide is up to you. What is important is explaining why you’re giving yourself a handicap. Let your child know it’s because of your age and experience and that it isn’t a pity handicap. No child wants to feel the indignity of knowing you are letting them win.

I’m sure some folks will disagree with this approach and that’s fine. I see it as no different than a golf handicap. Any time I play in an event at the local golf course I get to use my handicap. This means my not-too-shabby 20 handicap helps me compete on a level field against those scratch golfers. I don’t see it as providing an unfair advantage. Rather, it makes the game more interesting for us non-scratch golfers.

Damage Control

Regardless of what lesson you’re trying to teach it sometimes doesn’t stick. Your child may be a sore loser or have an inflated ego.

The Sore Loser

You’ve just won and your child’s response is to storm out in a rage. After suppressing your laughter you ask what’s wrong. Your child’s response is some mix of scream and nonsensical words. Rather than let the situation deteriorate and get more emotionally intense, try to put their feelings into words. Something like “you appear to let losing make you angry” or similar. Say it as a matter of fact and not in a sarcastic or condescending tone. Getting their emotions into words they understand can open the door for conversation and a learning opportunity.

Remind the child that no one likes a sore loser. It’s also a time to provide some “hamburger feedback”. Mention one positive from their game play. It could be anything big or small. Next provide some constructive criticism on what they can improve next time around. Finally, end with another small win.

The primary takeaway should be that losing happens. It’s how you lose and what you learn from the loss that matters. If you lose and learn from your mistakes then it is really a win disguised as a loss. Next time around your child won’t make the same mistake and might end up victorious!

The Ego Trip

Letting your child win all the time might make them happy, but it sets them up for trouble down the road. We all need to know what losing feels like. It makes us stronger and builds resilience. Dads should take the opportunity to win, and sometimes by a large margin, to ensure their kids know what it’s like to be on the losing side. Hopefully when your child is competing at school or with friends they can recall what it was like to be the loser. Sure they can still celebrate their victory, but not at the expense of others.


So, should dads let their kids win at games?

The answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no. Every child should know what it feels like to win and to lose. Only by experiencing both outcomes will they develop lifelong skills. They also need to see their hero, that’s you dad, win and lose. Kids learn more by what they see from role models than from words. So set a good example and most importantly remember that gaming with your kids should be fun!

As a kid if I played games for too long I’d inevitably hear something along the lines of “games are a waste of time. How will that help you in life!”. The idea of using games to teach children about technology, or any subject, wasn’t popular back in the day.

Today games are enjoyed by adults and children alike. It’s true many games are time wasters with little educational value. Increasingly games are being developed that are fun, engaging, and most of all educational.

If you’ve been searching for a way to start gaming with your children, but want to make it educational then read on.

The Benefit of Using Games

I’m guessing most dads are excited to hear that they can incorporate games into time with the family. What’s not to like about bringing together two things you love? This is especially true for new dads who have put in much less screen time than they did pre-child.

Besides the obvious, games are fun, using games to teach children has many upsides. For instance:

  • Games are engaging which encourages kids to learn outside the classroom
  • Learning from mistakes is important and games are virtually risk free
  • Games promote competition and build a competitive spirit

I feel like laying on the hard sell here isn’t necessary. Dads hear “games can be used to teach my kids” and that is all they need. So, let’s get into the fun part and discuss some games!

Using Games to Teach Children About Technology

Planeta 42 Games

Planeta has been around since 2014 offering free educational games. Their games are usually quick and don’t require much time. This is excellent for short bursts of education and fun. Game categories cover computers, math, cooking, physics, geography, and much more. The IT/computer category along has 70+ games, so you aren’t at risk of running out of entertainment any time soon.

Each game comes with a “how-to” guide and a written description covering the lesson. For instance, the computer parts puzzle game provides snippets on the parts of a computer found in the game. At 2-3 sentences at best these introductions are short, sweet, and easy for children to digest.

One of the best things about Planeta is that you can play without any registration. No account, credit card, or any personal info is required.

ABCya

Next up is ABCya, a site providing games and mobile apps that appeal to elementary students.

Just like Planeta, ABCya provides games spanning a variety of subjects. From grammar to typing and math to language arts, parents can find games in most subjects. What really stands out at ABCya is their filter ability. Parents can filter by common core standards or by the game theme or genre. The friendly layout and awesome searching make this an easy site to quickly navigate if you’re in a rush.

ABCya does offer a free version, but limits users to 6 mobile games per week. If your kid will mostly be at a desktop they can play an unlimited number of regular games. Paid plans do provide more features and can be used across up to 5 devices. Plans start at $5.83 (billed annually) and go up to $9.99 (billed monthly). While this isn’t the most expensive subscription it is still a consideration for families on a budget.

Funbrain

With a name like Funbrain you know this is going to be…fun!

Geared towards K-8 students Funbrain allows you to filter games by grade level, popularity, or subject. For any parent who has a child fascinated by animals this is the site for you. Funbrain incorporates all sorts of animals into their games. This makes it especially fun for young learners.

The site provides a simple UI and user-friendly experience. What is also appealing is the variety of learning styles that can use the site. Some kids (and parents) love games. Others might be more inclined to read. Much like Burger King, Funbrain let’s parents and kids “have it your way”.

Lure of the Labyrinth

First up, this game doesn’t have the amazing graphics you’ve come to expect from Xbox or PlayStation. Many adults may even feel a hint of nostalgia when first arriving on the site. However, don’t judge a book or a game by its cover/landing page.

Lure of the Labyrinth offers math-based puzzles for pre-algebra students. Math-based puzzles doesn’t sound fun until you hear that they are incorporated into an adventure with monsters and a “bean-loving girl with wings”.

The game is centered around rescuing a pet. As of this writing the site shows 39+ million pets have been rescued. That’s a lot of players so they must be doing something right.

TypeTastic!

Does your son or daughter henpeck the keyboard? Want to get them to stop? Head on over to TypeTastic!

Designed to help K-12 students develop typing skills, TypeTastic! boasts over 600 games. That is enough to keep even the most persistent keyboard warrior busy for a while. The games are conveniently broken out into K-2, upper elementary, and middle/high school categories.

The curriculum has been designed to cover everything from training motor skills to mastering touch typing, and testing your typing fluency. This might actually be a game where you and your kids can go head-to-head in an all out typing competition. I realize that may have sounded geeky, but remember what this site is all about.

A free version can be used by parents and kids at home. If you really love the platform they offer a paid version for schools and school districts. Classroom plans start at $99/year and go up.


At first take using games to teach children sounds like a crazy idea. I’d agree if the recommendation was to play mindless games. Using games that reinforce lessons learned in the classroom and that introduce new subject matter are a great resource. Games keep kids engaged and are fun for all ages. Plus, a little friendly family competition can’t hurt…until the kids start cleaning up on dad.