When I was growing up, our family did our best to have a game night every Sunday evening. We would pull out a couple board games and a deck of cards, and fill up small bowls of candy and popcorn and place them in the center of the table. Playing games together strengthened my bonds with my family members. It gave us a chance to slow down, laugh, and just be together.
Family games nights picked up some momentum during the pandemic, but with all the distractions of technology, and with our lives falling back into familiar routine, it can be easy to forget to take the time together to play games.
I’m a mom of three boys. There’s a lot of video games in our home and we do try to have game nights from time to time, but it's not as much of a routine as it was when I was a kid. It's got me wondering, what are we missing out on if we forgot the family game night?
Board games give families a chance to spend time together without distractions.
With American families only spending on average about 37 minutes together each day, how we spend that time together matters more than ever. Ever distracting electronics are now cheaper and more individualized. Gone are the days of setting the clock to catch that "Must See TV" and sitting on the couch together as a family; waiting for commercials before dashing into the kitchen for a quick snack. Now, everything is on demand, and screen time has become more solitary as this article from Psych Central points out.
We’ve long heard about the importance of sitting together as a family for dinner, but what if we extended that time at the dinner table a little longer for a game night once a week? According to a recent study from Hasbro Games, 63% of those polled said that 5-7pm (perhaps before or after dinner) was the easiest time for having family time, and 91% of families reported that playing games together has a positive impact on their mood.
I have noticed this with my family. My boys can be grumpy about the idea of family time, but they lighten up pretty quickly when we play games together. And I can see how game nights allow us to disconnect from technology and connect with each other.
Game nights help us to slow down in a fast paced world.
The pandemic gave families an opportunity to slow down, and many turned to board games to stay entertained. According to Pew Research, even though people felt very isolated during quarantine, a third (33%) of Americans reported positive impacts to their relationships. With life returning to more normalcy, many are hesitant to race back towards overscheduling. An article from Forbes highlights these changes pointing out how parents have no interest in returning to crazy schedules after coronavirus; with 75 % of parents saying they would make changes going forward.
Game nights are one activity that can help families to slow down and spend quality time together. Kids want to spend time with their parents, doing simple activities that spark laughter and joy. A poll of 2,000 school-aged American children showed that 73% of them would like more opportunities to bond with their families by doing activities such as spending a day at the beach, or having some friendly competition by playing sports in the yard or playing board games at home. So, how does the family game night help families to bond?
Game nights strengthen family bonds by helping to maintain strong lines of communication
My kids are always excited when their grandparents come over because that usually means we will play some games. They also to have a better attitude about game nights when extended family is involved. I know that these nights we spend playing games have given my three sons an opportunity to get to know their grandparents better, and it affords all of us an opportunity to share details about our lives in a non-confrontational way.
According to this article from PBS, “Numerous studies have shown that children from families who maintain strong lines of communication through frequent get togethers like game nights and family dinners enjoy benefits to nearly every aspect of their lives,” from better relationships with their parents and peers to practical skills such as higher reading scores and a larger vocabulary.
Playing board games together is about more than trying to win against your opponents. Game nights give families an opportunity to talk and joke around with one another, and that can sometimes even lead to more important or serious conversations. More than that, it’s fun!
I know that I’ll be working to have more regular game nights with my boys; the opportunity to slow down and connect with my family is well worth any effort it takes to drag them to the table for a family night.