Busy parents often find the work–life balance difficult to master, with the urge to plug in and tune out ever tempting. Under the current climate, this has only amplified – particularly for our single mummas. Among the endless list of responsibilities, we’re already juggling, COVID-19 has successfully doubled the load and, sometimes, the iPad seems like the only option we have to keep our little ones entertained.
With remote learning now in full swing, Australians’ internet consumption and screen time is at an all-time high, having increased more than 70% since February 2020. While remote learning can be tricky to navigate, encouraging your child to engage in offline activities in their free time will not only improve their skills, it can also bring your family closer.
Which is why this month, games Pictionary and Scrabble announced a new rule change:
“All players must now put their smartphones into the empty game box lid at the start of every game.”
The new rule aims to eliminate any distractions – and potential cheating! – promising a fun night in with your little ones. It is also a brilliant way to cut down on family screen time.
Taking the time for tech-free play is one of the best things we can do for our children. Playing freely allows the mind a moment to stop and rest and to nourish the brain and body. Gameplay also has a mélange of cognitive and emotional benefits, three of the most important we have listed below.
DITCH THE DEVICES AND BRING BACK THE BOARD GAMES. HERE’S WHY …
Regular gameplay not only has a powerful impact on cognitive skills and memorisation, it also helps open the lines of communication, creating lasting positive family memories. Board games like Scrabble can also help with a child’s vocabulary, while Pictionary will help improve fine motor skills while stimulating creativity and self-expression. Games keep the entire family entertained with some (healthy!) competition and help children keep their brain active, building on their problem-solving and communication skills.
Setting time aside for tech-free play – and ultimately, face-to-face communication – is important for fostering relationship building and interpersonal skills for all ages. Times of new circumstances, particularly the one we’re in currently, can bring up feelings of worry. Board games are a great opportunity to open up conversations with our little ones. During these conversations, we are able to validate our children’s concerns and emotions – and often, just listening is enough to put them at ease while learning the importance of communication for years to come.
TIME FOR MINDFULNESS THROUGH BOARD GAMES
Disconnecting from tech when playing board games will help drive mindfulness and wellbeing – bringing people together and just enjoying the present moment with our loved ones. Often we find ourselves caught up in the online world, losing touch with the physical world and those around us. This is no different for children. It’s important they understand and distinguish between the two realities and remain mindful to ease any anxiety.
Now more than ever before, it is critical we find ways to connect, especially setting examples under the current climate for our children to follow. While devices can’t always be off the cards, taking a break from screens and using this time to connect together and be fully engaged allows us to truly appreciate each other’s company and, of course, have lots of fun introducing routines our children can continue to enjoy.