By Wilma Bedford
Digital detox is the buzzword among yuppies and the in-thing is to go to expensive breakaway camps to break with smartphone and media addiction to reunite with family and friends.
The unfortunate truth is that from a young age our children are attracted to digital online diversion, video games, smartphones and Netflix and then become socially indifferent towards and detached from the family. Detox cell-phone and digitally addicted family members by means of card and board games and puzzles and repair disintegrated family time; it may sound old-fashioned, but do not underestimate the social and educational value of these games.
There is a saying that a family that eats together, stays together and this also goes for playing together. Therefore, deliberately make time for playing games together. There are some rules that must be adhered to: no cell phones or interruptions to check the score on TV, no bad temper if someone loses, games are played to the end, no stopping if someone begins to lose, no cheating. Card and board games teach players one of the most important social skills: to wait your turn, to be courteous, to win or lose with dignity, and courteous interaction with others. A further benefit is that children learn to focus, to think strategically, not to be impulsive; decision-making and dexterity will appear somewhere during the game.
A pack of 52 cards will ensure that old and young focus and it is good memory training. Various games can be found on the internet and do not have to be complicated. Play with your child as a pair until the child knows the rules of the game and feels ready to make decisions and to bear and process consequences. Playing cards will teach the child to differentiate between the types of cards that belong together and to play strategically.
Puzzles require visual and spatial reasoning ─ how many pieces will fit into the space ─ attention to detail and cooperation with other family members. A delightful holiday project is to buy a large puzzle on which the whole family can work and that can be framed later for the family room. Alternatively you can make your own puzzles or the children can make puzzles for each other. Use any large picture, such as a full-page advertisement from a newspaper or magazine. Paste it on hard cardboard and cut it in squares or triangles depending on the creativity and age of the children. Old road maps can also be used; the children must fit roads, provinces and rivers together.
Board games, of which there are a myriad on the market, will provide lots of fun and hone various cognitive and social skills. Check second-hand-book stores or charity shops for games so that there is always a new challenge. Apart from the family cohesion that is cultivated, one of the most important values of card, puzzle and board games is that a child who is an underperformer also gets an opportunity to win and appreciate his or her own value.