Comparing the popular video game "Need for Speed" to the old-school table game Yahtzee is like comparing a NASCAR race to a walk in the park. One's not necessarily better than the other; they're just different.
Video games are easy targets for educators, psychologists and social scientists. They are too often too violent, too addictive and too solitary. But they're not without their benefits. They facilitate development of strategic thinking, quick decision-making and hand-eye coordination, as well as long attention spans and concentration. All desirable.
There is just as much to be said for old-fashioned, no-tech games such as Candy Land, checkers, dominos, Sorry, Yahtzee, Clue, Risk, Life, Monopoly and Scrabble.
The primary benefit of playing traditional board games is that they require human interaction. Players must talk to one another. This talking and interaction may result in laughter, warm feelings and enhanced family relationships. All desirable.
Writing for scholastic.com, child psychiatrist Alvin Rosenfeld, co-author of The Over-Scheduled Child, states that traditional board games aid the development of important social skills in children, including cooperation, self-control, confidence, independent thinking and decision-making, curiosity, empathy, communication, teamwork, vocabulary development and patience. All desirable.
When you first suggest playing board games, be prepared for kids to call them "bored games."
Kids these days are inclined toward fast-paced activities and toward those that don't include family members. But be prepared for them to enjoy themselves more and sooner than they'll admit. Perhaps without noticing, kids will find the gentler rhythm and low-pressure tempo of a board game a welcome antidote to the manic buzz of "Halo" and "Dance Dance Revolution."
Massachusetts-based psychologist Kalman M. Heller says that one of the most important life skills that traditional board and table games promote is the ability to deal with winning and losing graciously.