How playing board games helps reduce screen time and increases strategic and creative thinking in children & teens

Hey families! Anybody struggling with limiting screen time and increasing quality family time? You’re not alone! We all know we spend far too much time on our phones – scrolling, liking, sharing, shopping… Apparently children and teenagers (ages 5-15) spend 4 hours a day on screens, split roughly 50/50 between phones and TV (source: Ofcom). Considering how much free time they have after finishing school, four hours of screen time is taking up a huge part of their day.

So how do we get children (and ourselves) away from screens? We also all know it’s easier to say to “just put the phone down” than to actually do it. The allure is just too great! What we need is ways to make us forget that phone or TV even exists, something that distracts or engrosses us so much that our mind isn’t constantly thinking about whether we have any new updates. For younger kids who don’t use phones for social media, they need an activity that is just as fun and entertaining as watching cartoons or YouTube.

We may be slightly biased here but…bring in the board games! Playing a game in an evening, instead of watching TV and/or aimlessly scrolling your phone, can have so many great benefits for children, teenagers and adults:

  • Better sleep quality
  • Educational benefits for children and teens
  • Quality family time

Reducing screen time can significantly improve your sleep

Having not spent a big part of your day, and especially evening, staring at that little screen will help you sleep so much better. The artificial blue light that is emitted from your phone limits the body’s release of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone. Instead, when spending an evening playing a board game you will actually gain something – a nice sense of achievement. You’ve actively used your brain to claim victory, solve an escape room game or gain the highest score. What better way to end your day, or do together with the kids before they go to bed.

Educational benefits: strategic and creative thinking

Modern board games involve a far greater degree of strategy than the old school games. You know how in Monopoly the player who gets to buy the expensive properties is usually the one that wins it? How do you get those properties? Completely up to chance – get a few lucky rolls on the die and you end up with the big ticket properties. There is no strategy, no this-or-that decisions to make and no forward thinking. Modern board games will often require you to evaluate a certain decision you’re about to make – yes you can add one more tree card to your hand but what if you can’t “plant” it in your garden and you get minus points for any unused cards? Modern games use specific rules that make you think more strategically and employ some forward thinking tactics. This is great mental arithmetics for teenagers (and adults!) almost without realising it.

Increased quality family time 

We all like to do things together as a family but it can be tricky to think of things that teenagers will enjoy as much as the adults. Playing board games is one of those hobbies that doesn’t really know any age limits – whether you’re 9, 19 or 99 you can play together and get the same amount of enjoyment out of a game! You can play against each other or explore the new style of cooperative games where together you play against the game itself – this last one is a great option if you don’t have a big competitive streak cause you’re all in it together. You either all win or you all lose.

Whilst we don’t think that playing board games is the antidote to getting children and teenagers off their phones, we do think it can create quality family evenings that everyone will enjoy – which in turn gets us all of our phones, one evening at a time…