Do We Play Games Together Any More?
Do you play board games with your children? In his latest Parent Panel post Ben Wakeling looks at how this important family past time seems to be on the demise and why we should still be making time for it.
I’m at work, eavesdropping on a conversation between two elderly colleagues. (I say ‘eavesdropping’, but they’re the kind of people who talk so loudly that everyone within a mile radius can hear what they have to say.)
“I remember when I was young,” says one of them. “We always used to play games, as a family.”
“It doesn’t happen any more,” bemoans the other; and the two start talking endlessly about the youth of today.
But what they said made me think: and I reckon they might have a point. I have very fond memories of being a young boy and playing board games on the lounge floor with my sisters and parents. There was Inspector Higgins, and Free Parking – and the occasional round of Downfall, of course. If we were feeling especially adventurous we ventured into Monopoly Junior.
But I’ve got to be honest – since I’ve been a parent, games nights come few and far between. It’s easy to blame the rise in computer gaming – after all, far more interesting games than Scrabble can be found online at the touch of a button. People are generally busier, working harder to make a bit of money in today’s tight times.
Whenever I tell myself these excuses, I get that little sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach which only happens when I lie. Fact is, it doesn’t take much to instigate a games evening, especially when your children are still young, as mine are.
The fact that some of my most treasured childhood memories involve playing games with my family demonstrates just how important it is for households to switch off the TV, unplug the laptop, set the mobiles to silent and sit down as a family.
The first thing to do in order to make Games Night a success is to find a game which the whole family enjoys and is appropriate to the age of the children playing. My youngest son is two, and probably a little too young to participate – but the eldest, being four, is in dire need of weaning off CBeebies and onto a fun game like Kerplunk! or Twister. And then, when he’s older, we can move on to board games and help him realise that he can have fun without playing on his Nintendo DS.
At the very least, my wife and I will go to bed nurturing the fuzzy glow that comes with knowing you’ve spent your time well instead of watching car-crash TV all evening. Which is why, right now, I’m going to finish this article, turn off the laptop, and retrieve the dusty Articulate box from the spare room.
What’s your family’s favourite board game?