Do You Need a Family Game Night?

by Morgan Rihn

Family life is chaotic.

School events. Sports. Concerts. Church. Socializing.

Lots to do. It can seem pretty stressful sometimes. You’re running them around. Maybe you’re feeling you don’t have any real quality time with them.

So, have you considered a family game night?

My Family Game Nights

I grew up in a very rural area.  Hardly any neighbors. This meant no other kids close by I could play with. So my family and I ended up pretty close.

When we weren’t running around for school functions and sports, we would sometimes have family game night. Turns out, these were my favorite nights. Dad might teach us how to play poker or other card games. Maybe we’d break out an old board game like “The Game of Life”. Sometimes we’d play Wii sports games or Xbox Kinect games. If you don’t know, these are games where you actually get up off the couch and pretend to play ping pong or throw a bowling ball. We were very competitive, but playing these games was always fun. And it created a bond between us that I think will last forever.

Benefits of Family Game Night

Others have talked about the benefits of a family game night. This article at Www.cbc.ca talks about family game night can teach good sportsmanship.  No one really stays mad at a family for every long, and Mom and Dad are always there to role model how to be a good loser. You also learn how to take turns and follow rules. Sometimes you get to practice an actual skill. 

The article also says you can work on your communication skills, and perhaps even negotiation skills. You should see the wheeling and dealing we do playing Monopoly. And of, some games require cooperation and teamwork.

I think all of these are important to learn at a young age. You’ll use them over and over and family game night was one of the most enjoyable time I had while building stronger relationships with my family.

Family Game Night Ideas

If you’re stuck on what kind of games to play, here’s a brief list from Www.today.com. It includes classic boards games al the way to video games. Some of them are actually quite recent. Some of their picks include:

  • Trouble
  • Clue
  • Candyland
  • Operation
  • The Game of Life
  • Telestrations
  • What Do You Meme?

I also recommend the “get off the couch” video games that come with PlayStation, Xbox, or Wii. Coommonsensemedia.org has a list of family video games and includes things like “Family Game Night: The Game Show”, “Hidden Folks”, “Trivial Pursuit”, “Wii Sports”, “Disneyland Adventures”, “Just Dance”, “Guitar Hero”, and many more.

Lastly, if you’re looking for more active games, and ones that you may be able to conjure up from items laying around the house, consider “Minute To Win It Games”. This was a popular TV show, but now refers to a while category of games that are fun and can be completed in a minute or less. A quick Google search can provide you with a list of “Minute To Win It Games” with instructions and videos. Of course, don’t forget the old classics “Twister”, “Nerf Gun Battles” and “Legos”.

I think you’ll enjoy family game night. Give a few tries, however. If you haven’t done it before, it will take some experimentation to figure out your own “house rules”. You’ll see what I mean.  Enjoy!

Some useful links:

https://www.cbc.ca/parents/learning/view/family_game_night_is_more_than_just_fun

https://www.today.com/home/game-ideas-kids-adults-teens-family-game-night-t118566

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/lists/family-video-games

Best Game Ideas from Chaos and Clutter

Is Your Tween Spending Too Much Time On YouTube?

By Lily Whorl

So, you may know the expression “going down the rabbit hole”. It means going into the unknown and perhaps having unique or disorienting experiences. It comes from Lewis Caroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”.

If your kid hasn’t already done this several times with YouTube, they soon will.

For example, imagine checking on your child. You’ve presumed their off playing with their toys or maybe their father. And instead you find them watching another kid on YouTube play with his toys – and perhaps his father.

Meet Ryan Toys Review. A 7-yr-old YouTube sensation with 18 million subscribers and an estimated net worth of $22 million.

Many of my younger cousins and nephews, and even the children I nanny for, are glued to their iPad or phone. Out of curiosity, I tend to peak at what they’re doing. I’d say about nine times out of ten they are viewing YouTube videos. Though I can’t lie and say I don’t enjoy watching YouTube videos also, I do find it mind blowing the amount of YouTube and screen time these kids will spend in a day.

And I know Ryan and his parent’s mean no harm by their successful YouTube Channel, it does get you thinking. Why would a child enjoy watching someone ELSE play with toys instead of just playing with toys THEMSELVES? I don’t have the perfect answer to that. Maybe it takes less energy. Maybe it’s about discovery and they already know about all of their own toys. I’m not sure.

But I did do a little research. Did you know kids between 0 and 5 only spend 50 minutes online but kids from 8 to 12 spend six hours a day? And it goes up to 9 hours a day for teenagers? (This comes from the website Common Sense Media .)  Sure, this can be the time you get your household chores done, but in the end, are you allowing a YouTube obsession to get started in your kid? 

And does it get better with age? Here’s a graph that shows over 25% of Americans visit YouTube several times a day. That’s a quarter of us!

Frequency of YouTube use in the United States

So, what do you want to do about it?

This is completely up to you. But I think the first step is NOT deleting the app or banning the computer.  I hope instead you consider simply limiting screen time. Plus there are parental controls in most of these apps, including YouTube. One thing you can do, for example, is turn off or pause the search history. This will stop new videos from magically appearing once the current video is done. That blocks the rabbit hole. Or makes it less inviting.

 I also think it’s important to sit down with your child and actually observe what they’re watching on YouTube. Many times it will be fine, though you may want to look out for videos that are essentially commercials. We all know that kids are a prime target audience for marketers and there are far less restrictions about what they can do on YouTube than they can put on TV, for example.

You may also want to subscribe for your child some educational channels. No harm in that, right?

And finally, why not sit and talk with your child about what they find so fascinating about their favorite YouTube videos? Maybe there’s a chance you could duplicate that intrigue in some real world activity? 

And wouldn’t that be cool. Instead of art imitating life, you could figure out to get life to imitate art. YouTube art that is.

Meanwhile, I’ve got to run now. Those kitten videos aren’t going to watch themselves!

Check out our blogs posts on Cyberbullying or how today’s social media contributes to FOMO.

Some Helpful Links:

https://health.usnews.com/wellness/for-parents/articles/2018-04-30/managing-your-teens-screen-time

https://www.verywellfamily.com/strategies-limit-your-teens-screen-time-2608915

https://www.statista.com/statistics/256896/frequency-with-which-us-internet-users-visit-youtube/

“8th Grade” Movie Review: Every Parent of a Tween Should Watch It

By Seth Woolcock

Ever wonder what it’s like to be an eighth grader in today’s world?
Let Bo Burnham show you. Usually known for his comedy and music, Burnham explores the crazy world of junior high in his 2018 film “Eighth Grade.”

Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher) is just like any 13-year-old girl today. She’s self-conscious, lives on social media and strives to be a YouTube blogger – which means she gives kids her age her advice. But off camera, Kayla is crippled with anxiety. She can’t take any chances. The movie follows her through the ups and downs of her last week of classes in the eighth grade.

Kayla’s dad (Josh Hamilton) may be a lot like you. He’s a single parent who loves his kid and would do anything for her, but often finds himself out of touch with his daughter. He believes she lives in a world where people are more disconnected from each other than ever before. Throughout “Eighth Grade” Burnham paints a picture of eighth grade as it is TODAY for American teenagers.

So, I’m a guy in my early twenties – much closer to that age range than you, probably – and I can tell you the accuracy of the movie is unreal.  It has a lot of good messages for both parents and teens. But through conversations with others, I’ve been surprised by how many grown-ups don’t know half the stuff in this movie.  School-shooting drills, Instagram, “finstas”, and Steph Curry jerseys, a lot has changed since you’ve been in middle school. I think it has good information for any parent today, and it provides it wrapped in good story-telling.

The movie talks about (shows) themes like being yourself, putting yourself out there, discovering confidence and growing up – all things every teen/tween deals with, but they are a different challenge in today’s 24/7, hyper-connected world.

Fortunately, “Eighth Grade” also reminds us that things do get better. At a high school shadowing program, Kayla meets Olivia (Emily Robinson), who becomes the first person to really put her arms around Kayla. It foreshadows that high school might just be a bit better for Kayla.

Maybe ironically, I found the music in the movie really worked for me (you’ll hear what I mean when you watch it.) With a run time of only an hour and 24 minutes, and a 99 percent critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, this movie really is a must-watch, especially if you are a parent of a teen or tween today.

“Eighth Grade” is available to steam for free on Amazon Video if you are an Amazon Prime account holder. It’s also available for rental in the iTunes and Google Play store.

Links to other movie reviews of “8th Grade”:

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/eighth_grade

“8th Grade” the movie by Bo Burnham

New York Times movie review of “8th Grade”