Board games are making a comeback. In recent years, board games of all types are experiencing a kind of renaissance in households and coffee shops across the US as people look for ways to spend some quality time with their families and friends that don’t involve a screen. Not only do board games promote all sorts of healthy things like critical thinking skills, memory, family bonding time, or good communication skills, but they’re… well… just plain fun!
Here are 20 reasons why you should make time to play games with your family every week:
- Forces you to disconnect: According to reports, Americans spend about 11 hours per day on some of kind screen or device. Factor in sleep time, and for most people screen time takes up the majority of their waking hours!
- It’s a good time to communicate: Whether it’s small talk, just finding out how their day went, or having serious conversations, playing a board game while trying to talk to your kids or family members is a great way to get them to open up in a relaxed, non-threatening setting. This works especially well for your reluctant teenagers who, according to Psychology Today, tend to open up more easily when they’re engaging in some kind of fun activity or play while talking with a parent.
- Encourages strategic thinking: Decision-making, planning, anticipating someone else’s actions or reactions, thinking ahead, problem-solving… these are all part of being able to thinking strategically. Board games are one of the best ways to nurture these valuable life skills in your kids, but they’re so busy having fun, they don’t actually realize they’re in the process of learning. A parental win/win!
- Keeps you in the moment: It’s cliché but true—life now is faster than ever and full of distractions. Microsoft even proved this with their infamous study that suggests people have shorter attention spans than goldfish and links our lack of focus to smartphone use. Playing a board game is the perfect antidote to our addiction to all things “instant.” It slows us down and encourages us to be fully present in the moment and with our families, all while having fun. What could be better than that?
- Transcends age: It’s not easy to find a single activity that everyone in your family, from age 8 to 80, can enjoy together at the same time… except a good board game!
- Encourages healthy competition: Winners, losers, opposing teams… Board games give us a controlled, low-stakes environment in which we can exercise our competitive impulses through healthy play, fun, and family bonding.
- “Play” is good for everyone: Play shouldn’t end when we grow up. Adults benefit just as much as kids do from a good dose of play, even though fun for fun’s sake is not always something we prioritize in our busy, work-driven schedules. Try to make playtime a priority for your family by designating a weekly or monthly “game night.” Put it on your calendar and stick to it. Pretty soon, it’ll be something that the entire family can count on and look forward to.
- Learning in disguise: Whether it’s strategic thinking (see number 3 on this list), conflict resolution, emotional intelligence, social learning, good sportsmanship, communication skills, healthy competition… board games “sneak” in valuable learning opportunities for your kids when the don’t even know they’re learning—they’re just having fun!
- Gives you a break from your routine: Work, school, homework. Eat, sleep, repeat. Sometimes we can get caught in a dizzying, never-ending cycle of work and school activities that we hardly remember to stop and just enjoy one another. Playing games regularly with your family provides a much-needed (and fun!) break from the furious pace of our overly-scheduled lives.
- Family bonding: A family that plays together stays together! Well, maybe that’s a bit over-the-top, but not by much… Laughter, togetherness, sharing, communication, and basically just having fun with the people you love for a few hours every week are all things that bring people closer together and strengthen those precious family bonds.
- The ultimate mobile-friendly device: Board games never run out of battery, don’t need to be plugged in, they don’t need WiFi, and they work no matter where you are in the world!
- Kids crave your attention: A recent study found that parents spend more than 9 hours per day in front of some kind of a screen, and that only includes about an hour-and-a-half of work time—the rest is spent on their devices at home. We can’t assume that this doesn’t affect our relationships with our kids. When you’re playing a board game with your kids, face-to-face, it’s interactive and collaborative. They know that, at least for the length of the game, you’re 100% focused on them and having fun as a family.
- Teaches how to win (and lose) gracefully: In any setting, whether a class room or the board room, nobody likes a sore loser, or even worse, a jerk of a winner. Playing games regularly with your family teaches kids how to lose with grace and how to win with humility. Lessons that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.
- Reduces stress: Laughter is indeed the best medicine! Many studies have linked play and board games with reduced stress levels (and things like lower heart rate or blood pressure) in both adults and children.
- Creates a family tradition: Designating a regular “family game night”—a time when everyone commits to being at home and off of their devices—quickly becomes a family tradition that everyone will look forward to. While it might be hard to establish the habit at first, once everyone knows they’re expected to make family time a priority, it will quickly become a popular tradition that can last a lifetime.
- Teaches focus: Board games offer little time or effort for distractions outside of what’s happening on the board. It forces players to tune everything else out and focus only on their moves and the moves and strategies of their opponents. This can be an especially helpful exercise for kids (and adults) who struggle with staying focused or paying attention.
- Improves memory: Board games have long been a favorite tool of therapists, doctors, educators, and family members who are interested in finding fun and engaging ways to improve cognition, executive function, and memory. And this goes not just for children but also for adults (and aging adults in particular).
- Brings siblings together: Do you have siblings who are always arguing or in constant competition? What better way to unite siblings around the common goal of “defeating” their parents than in a board game? Remember the saying, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend?” Well, mom and dad, you’re the enemy in this scenario.
- Makes lifelong memories: Some of the best memories I have is staying up until all hours of the night laughing and playing board games with friends and family. I may not always remember the games we played or who won or what exactly made my best friend laugh so hard she snorted water out of her nose, but I remember the feeling we all had being together. The memories of family, friendship, love, laughter, joy, and fun. Priceless.
- Oh yeah… it’s just fun!: Games and play are good for us for all sorts of important, evidence-based reasons, but, let’s face it, a great board game is just plain, good old-fashioned fun!
Looking for a great board game to play with your family this holiday season? Latice is a classic strategy board game that can be played by just about anyone, regardless of age or language. Check it out here!