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5 Empathy-Building Video Games and Apps for Kids

The experts at Common Sense Media cast their votes on the best kids media for social emotional development.

By Laura Zax

September 17, 2012

All (or at least most) games can teach empathy, but some games are, of course, better empathy-builders than others.  Check out these recommendations from the experts at Common Sense Media, an organization that helps parents make smart decisions about what their children play and watch.

Five Empathy-Building Video Games and Apps for Kids 0-12

Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster
In this interactive XBox game, which parents and children can play together, players make friends with Sesame Street characters and help them solve their problems.

Ni Hao, Kai-Lan: New Year's Celebration
Players prepare for the celebration of the Chinese New Year alongside Nick Jr's sweetheart Kai-Lan. Great preschool social lessons emerge in this game for Nintendo DS as players come across a cast of characters in different emotional states, immersing themselves in Chinese culture along the way.

Herotopia
In this kid-safe online game, players learn about different cultures as they travel across the world helping Hero characters deal with the Bully Bunch. The game presents a perfect opportunity to discuss bullying with your lower schooler.

Kids and Home
As its title suggests, Kids and Homes takes players into the homes of kids all across the world, helping players gain cultural understanding of what life is like in other parts of globe. The iPad app comes with a suite of drawing and painting features so that kids can apply their own creativity to draw their own home or design a new one.

Mission US: Flight to Freedom
This computer game puts players in the shoes of Lucy, a teenage slave in pre-Civil War America. After Lucy escapes the plantation, players feel the weight of their decision-making, which Lucy's freedom depends on.  This powerful, emotionally intense game comes highly recommended but is not for children under ten.