A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Poki is a gaming website that offers thousands of games for players. Players will see ads in numerous games along with ads scattered across the entire site. Gamers can also easily find and play games that involve shooting, killing, and other violent acts -- the level of violence varies based on the game that's being played. Several sections contain dubiously themed games that involve punching, a character trying to steal kisses without anyone seeing, and other scenarios. Some characters are also shown topless or in other racier imagery, and players will serve drinks in a bartender game. Users can only click on a thumbs up or down icon, though, to indicate whether they like or dislike a game; they can't post a comment about it, which helps keep swearing and other inappropriate content off the site -- and games don't seem to link to external developer websites that could potentially contain objectionable content.
What's it about?
POKI offers free online games -- reportedly thousands, according to the site. No registration is required to play the games, which are from a variety of sources but are housed on the site. Poki says it uses algorithms to select games that are shown based on user preference. Players can enter names or general themes in a search field to find things to play; games are also grouped by topic -- such as puzzle, soccer, or board games. Some feature multiplayer options as well, for players who want human competition.
Is it any good?
While this site offers a variety of games from many developers, the quality of the games can be inconsistent, with some lacking clear (or any) instructions, which reduces the fun for the site. Poki presents a large collection of games that can be played in a browser in a visual setting, with images showing off the newly added options. But making the info for each title more consistent so that the text communicates what gameplay involves, what keys make characters move, and other important information would help gamers decide what they want to play -- and understand how to get started. Adding information that explains which titles reinforce math, strategy, and other skills would also help younger players get more out of their gaming experience.
That said, the site does have a decent number of games to play, and some can be entertaining. Players can, for instance, access online versions of classic board games like Connect 4, try their hand at soccer, or try to win a matching game. In addition, users can't comment, and games are played within the browser, which should mean younger players won't end up on a site with free-for-all content. But Poki wasn't designed specifically for kids -- and while there are some age-appropriate games, kids can easily find options that feature shooting, animals stabbing other animals, and other questionable imagery. Given the number of violent games and ads, parents may not be particularly eager to let their children spend much time on the site without discussing which games they plan to play; even taking that approach, supervising kids' usage would probably be a good idea. Poki may give players access to loads of games, but its lack of info, questionable quality, and heavy amount of violence mean that only older gamers should take a look with parental guidance.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how to tell if a game is meant for kids or adults. What kinds of things might indicate that a younger gamer should ask an adult if a game is OK to play?
Some of the site's games involve repetitive steps and motions. Can you identify a series of tasks that need to be taken to complete an action? How can you avoid getting caught in doing things repetitively?
For kids who love arcade games
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