From September 1 to December 31 you can join in a national effort to encourage your family and friends to socialize through non-electronic games. This extended event is all about turning away from a screen and toward real faces, interacting with the important people in your life and nurturing your human connections, using board games as the means. You can go to the Million Minute Family Challenge website to find out all the details. You’ll have the option of creating an account so that you can log the minutes you spend playing board games and help all involved reach the million-minute mark (roughly 694 days worth of game-playing time!) together.
Although this site is somewhat commercial (it sells the games it promotes), it provides a lot of helpful and free information. For example, there are ideas for making game time into a more formal event by offering prizes or making game playing part of a potluck dinner. And there is a list of benefits of intergenerational play, tips on how to select games appropriate to participants’ interests and abilities and a good explanation of the value of setting aside time to interact this way. I offer this book list that expands on the board game idea to include other family-oriented games and activities that promote spending “unplugged” time together.
It’s unfortunate that we seem to be losing the ability to relate to others as we spend more and more time in front of some kind of screen, absorbed in an isolated way. After reading Your Brain on Computers (a series of articles in the New York Times on how the deluge of data we are now exposed to is affecting the way we think and behave, not always with positive outcomes), it seems even more imperative to unplug and engage in non-electronic group activities as a regular part of daily life.
Last year in our home, we instituted a monthly game and potluck night. We purchased a few new games to reinvigorate our stash (adding a new game or two a year keeps things interesting) and got underway. We invite different people each time to mix it up and enjoy preparing some favorite dishes or snacks to serve. It is wholesomely satisfying to spend time laughing, sharing personal stories and sharpening our wits while playing a variety of games that can develop social, emotional and cognitive skills. We took a break over the summer when everyone scattered away on vacations, but we are happy about starting this ritual up again now that school has started and folks are back to more regular schedules.
Have a favorite board game to recommend? Let your fellow readers know by posting a comment.