The kids just hit summer vacation around these parts and we're already hearing it: "Dad, I'm bored. Can I play on the Wii? I didn't hit my sister! Can I play on your iPad?" Luckily, some of the big guys in online media are looking out for you with a few fun techie diversions for kids and families.
First, Netflix has created a special site for families that shows films that are fun for the kids and their parents.
"With the Netflix Families page, we’ve used our proprietary algorithm to create lists we think families will love," said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix. "In the 'Are We There Yet?' list we’ve picked TV shows and movies ideal for watching on your tablet in the airport, and the 'TV for Curious Kids' lists have shows that will help keep kids' minds active during the summer months."
On the tablet front, if you have a Kindle Fire -- and we probably all should have one by now -- you can turn on Kindle FreeTime for the kids. It's basically a children-only space for the wee ones to hang out in while you're busy relaxing by the pool. FreeTime gives them access to unlimted content including books, movies, and games featuring favorite characters like Dora, Toy Story, and Elmo. I've actually set up my son with a Kindle full of ebooks and will use FreeTime to turn off the games on the Kindle, ensuring he reads Harry Potter instead of playing Cut the Rope. That, at least, is the plan.
I've also set my children up with Scratch, a free programming environment that lets them create games by dragging little objects around on the screen. They don't need to know how to type at all -- you just select a function, add a loop or action, and press "run." Thus far, my son has been able to get a little can to run across the screen. It's a start.
Finally, we usually end up setting up a lot of board games. Our favorite recently is Carcassonne, a simple game that requires quite a bit of strategy. To play, you lay down tiles that make up complex cities. You get points for completing a city and you can "farm" open fields and control roads, giving you more points. It teaches planning ahead and shapes, and it's great for the big ones as well as the little ones.
In the end, I suppose the best summer fun comes from running around in the yard, but when the sun goes down and the crickets come out, it might be time to pour a glass of lemonade and see what geeky fun you all can get up to.
How do you keep your kids entertained when they're bored?
Image via John Morgan/Flickr