We Convinced This Family to Give Up Screens for a Week and Play Board Games

We Convinced This Family to Give Up Screens for a Week and Play Board Games

Stacy Tornio

We called it the Family Game Night Challenge. A few months ago, we created a blog post inviting families to give up their devices for an entire week. The catch? They couldn't have any screens during game time. The goal would be to have some good old fashioned fun.

Many great families applied, and we ended up choosing the Barrow family to take on the challenge. Here's a look at the family: 

  • Jon (The Dad) 
  • Andrea (The Mom) 
  • Bradley (15 and "The Realist") 
  • Ginger (11 and "The Optimist") 

Curious how they did? Check out the video below. Then read on to learn what the family thought about this family game night challenge. 

Why did you all decide to apply to the challenge?

Jon: We’ve tried to be good about managing our screen time but had relaxed our rules quite a bit during the pandemic and this past summer when the kids were stuck at home for long periods, had many of their regular activities interrupted, and we couldn’t get outside due to a bad wildfire season here in Montana. We thought this challenge would be a fun way to do a “reset” and remind ourselves how important it is to spend time together without screens.

What surprised you about the challenge?

Jon: We were surprised by how little we missed our phones once we put them away for game time. In the past, just knowing they were there made it easy to check something “real quick” and think you weren’t being disruptive, but once you actually remove the distraction entirely the urge to use them goes away and you realize how distracting just having them readily available can be.

How does playing board games help bring you all together as a family?

Jon: The games themselves are fun in a traditional sense but what brought us closer were all the little interactions that happened around the games; little jokes or funny moments that became shared memories we laugh about now and look back on fondly. Time spent playing board games is almost like a little vacation in that way, and in fact since the challenge ended we’ve set aside time each night after dinner for non-screen family time.

How does "unplugging" help you all as a family?

Jon: We thought we weren’t using screens excessively during family time in the past but we still had our phones nearby and would often look something up or casually use them when someone went to get a snack or there was a lull in the activity. By actually removing phones during game time we filled those little moments with conversation instead. It helped us realize how pervasive our screens have become and how distracting it can be just to have them on hand, even when we thought we were managing them pretty effectively before the challenge.

We challenge your family to give up screens for an evening (or a week) to play board games. Please share your photos on social media using the hashtag #FamilyGameNight. Also tag Underdog Games on your favorite channel. We'd love to see your game night in action! 

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