Friday, February 18, 2011

Can Computer Games Teach Kids about Pet Care?

By Tamara L. Waters

Computer games have become a way of life for kids and adults alike. When it comes to pet-related games, do any of them actually teach skills or instill learning that will help a kid become a responsible pet owner? My own children have enjoyed computer games that involve caring for pets and while some are silly and useless entertainment, a few can actually introduce responsible pet care to children who have never owned a pet.

Pet Vet 3D: Animal Hospital

With this game, the player becomes a veterinarian who takes care of an assorted variety of animals – from horses and ponies, to cats, dogs, bunnies and even piglets. My daughter really enjoyed this game as she learned facts about the animals “she” was treating, and it piqued her interest to learn more about these animals and their care.

There are other similar computer games that allow the player to “become” a veterinarian and provide care for furry patients. There is Paws & Claws Pet Vet, Paws & Claws Pet Vet 2, Pet Vet 3D: Wild Animal Hospital, and Happy Tails: Animal Shelter which allows you to care for animals and find them a forever home.

Petz 5

This has been a favorite game for my kids. While the pet care obviously isn't realistic, I found that this game helped my kids learn about caring for pets in a fun and easy way. With this game, you choose a pet (a dog or a cat in your choice of breed and color), name it and then set out to play with and care for your pet. The animals in Petz 5 want affection (just like a real pet), need to be fed, played with, and paid attention to. If you don't feed your pet, he or she might run away.

What I found with this game was that while it was mostly for fun and entertainment, it introduced my kids to the concept that pets aren't toys that you just put away or care for when you feel like it. After the first time or two my kids forgot to care for their virtual pets and they ran away, they were more vigilant about making sure they took care of and fed their pets.


The Facebook game Petville is a game that my nine-year-old daughter enjoyed but it was simply for entertainment purposes. I played it with her several times and found that it wasn't a game that really provided more than that. The care for the pet isn't very realistic and even though a pet will run away if you forget to feed it, you can easily pay to get it back from the pound.

In real life, this isn't how it works. Thankfully, my children have real pets to care for, and they understand that feeding, socializing and regular care is just part of daily life when you have a pet.

How can these computer games help kids learn about responsible pet ownership? I do believe they provide value by introducing kids to the concept of pet care, but all in all, they are just games. Nothing is the same as the actual hands-on care of pets. If you would like an opportunity to teach your children hands-on pet care with real pets, check with your local animal shelter. Many shelters appreciate and need volunteers who are willing to come in and play with the animals, walk them, brush them and provide actual care. This is a better way to help your kids learn about caring for real pets prior to bringing a pet into your home.

Read more by Tamara L. Waters


  1. I totally agree...hands on is the sure way of teaching pet care.

  2. I think the pet games are good but the real thing is much better as long as the children have some supervision and not just left alone to take care of the pet. But it is probably a fun thing to do to play a game to do with pets.

  3. I never knew these even existed (I don't have kids so that is no surprise)

    I agree that "hands on" is the best way but these are great also for opening up a conversation

  4. I think it helps! Because they learn theoretically then they can go and learn hands on.

  5. What a great idea for a video game! Kids love games and now they can learn more about the animals they love too!

  6. If i had furless kids I'd rather they play with a game like this than war games!

  7. I love the idea of kids learning about the responsibility of pet ownership by playing games! I'd like to get this game for my niece who wants to grow up to be a vet!

  8. I think these games can be helpful for opening a dialogue with your kids to learn about caring for a pets. :)

  9. i think now days child getting to familiar with computer games..... hence i can say a computer game may be teach them how to care for animals in the most effective way........

  10. Certainly it can be used as a training tool. I'd rather have kids making pet care mistakes on a pet that isn't real than making those same mistakes with a real animal. If they learn pets will run away and you have to pay to get them back wouldn't it be better if your payment was with money that wasn't real?

  11. Those game are really helpful in introducing pet caring to our kids. But still I agree that the most accurate training we could give is a hands on training. :)


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