We currently live in a world revolving around electronics with computer screens, tv screens, phone screens, tablet screens, video game screens, etc. While many electronic programs geared towards children are educational, there are also benefits to turning the power buttons off and playing within a child’s physical world.
As an occupational therapist, I prefer to use real board games in my sessions rather than their electronic counter-parts because of the skills that are developed while playing board games.
Benefits of playing board games versus video games includes developing:
- Visual-motor skills
- Fine motor skills
- Sensory-motor experiences
- Motor planning
- Social engagement with others
- Turn taking skills
- Self-monitoring skills
For example, board games such as Angry Birds or Rush Hour differs from video games because the video game already has each piece in place and no set-up is involved, whereas the board game requires the player to plan how to place pieces onto the board exactly as shown from a card in order to successfully begin the game.
Many board games also require significantly more motor planning, dexterity and upper extremity control than their video game counter-parts. Think of playing a game of solitaire on the computer which requires one motion of clicking the mouse and moving the mouse exactly where you want it to go in order to move the cards versus playing the same game of solitaire with a deck of cards which requires fine motor skills, motor planning and dexterity involved with shuffling the deck, turning the cards over and picking up only one card in your fingers at a time. Other benefits also may include counting the cards to ensure you are starting with a full deck and the planning, sequencing and organization that is involved with setting up the game.
In conclusion, I encourage a healthy balance between screen time and playing in the physical world, as there are many benefits to turning off the electronics in order to learn through play.