By Sylvia Foo, Senior Lecturer, DAS Academy

It is often said that you can tell which era a person grew up in from the music he listened to or the shows and movies he watched. I remember telling my student about my favourite television series, Little House on the Prairie when I was in secondary school.

My student wrinkled up her nose in disgust that I actually enjoyed watching the adventures of three sisters growing up on a farm in the American Midwest in the 1870s and 1880s. Some of her comments included, “Where got fun running around on a farm and countryside?”, “You mean they had to make their own games? No computer, right?” and the mother of all comments, “Wah, if I have to play like that, I will go mad. Better study instead.”

My student’s comments about the nature of play a long, long time ago are perhaps typical of the modern era where digital games play a prominent role in the play or leisure diet of our children and students. Even adults in public transport are hooked on their small screens, pressing furiously away to get higher scores on the latest Candy Crush or Minecraft installment.

Don’t get me wrong. There are benefits from playing online and mobile games. Digital games have the power to stimulate curiosity, imagination and encourage the use of logic to solve problems through puzzles and riddles. But like any other diet, it is good to vary our children’s menu of games, so they get a balanced intellectual, physical and social development. A diet of predominantly fast food is not healthy even if that fast food has less salt and sugar or is fried in olive oil.

Adding traditional games to your child’s diet of play is one way to increase variety and promote the development of important skills. I consider traditional games to be those that do not involve computers or high-tech gadgets. They can be simple and inexpensive such as Hopscotch, Five Stones, Pick-Up Sticks and Cat’s Cradle (The Patterned String Game). Traditional games can include board or word games such as Monopoly, Chess, Scrabble, and Cluedo as well as card games like Happy Families, Old Maid and Snap. There are today newer versions of traditional games in toy stores such as Uno, Rush Hour, Jenga, Twister, Pictionary and Hedbanz.

How does playing traditional games benefit your child?

Firstly, some traditional games require physical movement unlike digital games which are primarily sedentary in nature

Secondly, traditional games can stimulate your child’s brain through logical thinking and strategy in the same way that digital games can, but without him being exposed to scenarios that are excessively violent.

Finally, traditional games can help your child to improve his communication and social interaction skills.

 “There is room for both digital and traditional games in our children’s play diet.”

 

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This article was published in FACETS Vol 1, 2018

References:

Michael G. Rayel, MD. Parenting 101: How Can Traditional Games Benefit Your Child?
http://www. selfgrowth.com/articles/Parenting_101_How_Can_Traditional_ Games_ benefit_Your_Child.html

Simple as That Blog
https://simpleasthatblog.com/the-benefits-of-simple-play-traditional-childrens-games/