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Kids Can Get Their Game On

Kids Can Get Their Game On

Modern children have somewhat different ideas of what constitutes entertainment, especially when compared to youngsters from a generation or two ago. While it was once commonplace for kids to be out and about with their friends riding bikes and spending time in each other’s backyards — only returning home when the streetlights came on — modern youths spend lots of time at home and indoors on their devices.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, kids between the ages of eight and 18 now spend an average of 7.5 hours in front of a screen each day. That figure only accounts for recreational time, and doesn’t include the hours kids spend on computers or tablets for educational purposes. In addition, social media is a large part of kids’ days. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry indicates 90 percent of teens between the ages of 13 and 17 have used social media, and 51 percent report visiting a social media site at least daily. Younger children also use social media, with a recent poll from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital saying 32 percent of parents of kids between the ages of seven and nine reported their children use social media apps.

A classic children’s game night might be just what the doctor ordered to draw kids away from screens and provide a healthy respite from the barrage of information coming their way through the internet. With these tips, a game night can be a successful way to help children engage socially in person.

Pick a theme

Unite all elements of the game night by selecting a theme. For example, if you will be pulling out the classic game Operation™, pre-purchase inexpensive lab coats or doctors’ scrubs for participants to wear. Serve foods shaped like various body parts (borrow from some Halloween ideas) and invite guests with an invitation that serves as a “Prescription for Fun.”

Choose a good time

Even though “game night” implies the gathering takes place in the evening, choose a time that works best for most. Perhaps meeting directly after school for snacks and play before dinner aligns better with everyone’s schedule. Parents can take turns hosting to give children something to look forward to once a week.

Shop together

Bring the kids along to the store to select board games and other activities that appeal to them. Explain that the majority of game nights will be dedicated to non-electronic games. Parents can organize game night how they see fit, but working one video game night into the rotation each month can up the fun factor for kids.

Take it outside

“Games” encompass a wide array of activities. Organize a pick-up wiffle ball game in the cul-de-sac or an after-dark manhunt game with flashlights (age-permitting). Families with pools can rotate having kids over for pool games, which can include volleyball, diving games or Marco Polo.

Plan in advance

Know what kids will be playing before guests arrive to cut down on arguments over which games to play, which only wastes time. An older child or an adult can chaperone.

Game nights can be fun ways for kids to interact away from screens.

Family Features