For the past few years, I've talked to parents complaining about their kids and their online or computer habits.
"They spend too much time playing online games.
"When my child loses a game, he yells at me," adds a frustrated mother.
"My son hopes to eat meals." He's so immersed with it that he completely ignores me, "says another.
I feel bad for them but it's true. Our children are simply bombarded with tons of new online stuffs. I'm not against online games. At least, they have some role in engaging our kids. But most of these online games are designed to entertain and so after a while, some kids get bored. And if done in excess, some even become grouchy.
Meanwhile, traditional games are overlooked if not ignored. When I say traditional games, I'm not just referring to old, classic games. I consider most board, word, or card games as traditional games because they do not use computer or "hi-tech" gadgets.
Unlike traditional games, today's online games do not involve social interaction. If permitted, kids can stay with the computer all day long. Instead of spending time with their parents, siblings, or friends, they spend time with a cold, lifeless machine. And this is where the problem comes in – the lack of connection with a human soul.
How can traditional games help kids?
First, traditional games can help kids learn to recognize their emotions, although indirectly. During play, kids learn to deal with frustration after a loss, with excitation after a win, with anger after getting a "bad turn," with anxiety when pride is on the line.
By playing traditional games, kids also learn how to communicate politely with other players. They show empathy to players who loses, become assertive with those who bend the rules, and control their temper when others become rowdy.
I strongly believe in the educational value of traditional games. Here about three years ago, I developed a board game – now known as Oikos Game –designed not only to entertain and create fun but also to provide an educational experience for parents and kids. Learning through play is one of the ways to teach life lessons to kids. Second, traditional games provide a venue for families to spend time together, to generate live banter, and to communicate with one another – done in the spirit of fun. The time spent each day to play with kids is a time well-spent. At the end of the day, what kids remember are the happy times spent with their parents and siblings. It will not matter to them who wins or loses.
They will cherish those moments of accomplishment and treasure those periods of laughter. The closeness and warmth among family members will forever be celebrated.
Kids love to connect with their parents. They need to feel secure, to be affirmed, to be listened to. They want frequent hugs, comforting words, and even high fives. If given a choice, most kids will prefer a warm, genuine touch and a caring, healing voice over an online game.
So a daily thirty-minute playtime with kids is an occasion to help families thrive.
Third, traditional games pilot the brain through logical thinking and strategy. Studies have shown that to keep our brain healthy, we need to constantly stimulate it. Through reading, learning new things, playing word or board games, solving puzzles, or doing physical activities, our brain positions fit.
Like many specialists, I've recommended brain-stimulating activities to individuals who suffer from dementia. In my experience, those who often play card or word games and solve puzzles get worse slower than those who do not. Indeed, our brain also needs "mental aerobics" to keep it sharp and healthy.
In summary, traditional games allow families to have quality time together while improving relationships, creating laughter, keeping the brain healthy, and strengthening the bond that glue the family's fabric.