An interesting question came up in the Parenting of K-6 forum about the merits of board games and computer games. The value of family games was illustrated to me in my work as a counselor. I had a swimming party for a diverse group, nine children ranging in age from 16 to 8 and their parents. I brought several games for resting out of the pool, Racko, Dominos, Uno, and playing cards. Inexpensive games that parents and children enjoy, they saved me several times! Board and card games provide structured social opportunities, especially in a family. I have many fond memories of playing cards with my dad and grandmother. I really felt special when I got old enough to play with my mom and her friends.
But, what about computer games for families?It's a bit more uncomfortable for two people to sit at a computer and downright impossible for more than two. Our family has hit on the ideal solution, I'm a little embarrassed to tell. We have our computer on the coffee table, and we all sit on the couch. And yes, we have the TV going at the same time.
Internet games require a lot of bandwidth and computer power. My computer is fairly old, so I usually have to close all my other programs and browser windows before we play. It also helps to run disk defragmenter on your Windows, if you have time. Be prepared for some time-consuming sign-up and download requirements. Parents may want to do all of that before sitting down with the kids to play online.
Headbone Zone has fantastic Internet games that are fun and sometimes just a bit educational. Don't let that educational part scare off your kids though. They will love these games. The characters are eccentric and appealing. The game scenarios have just the right mix of pop culture and fun learning to appeal to middle school kids. Headbone has added some new features lately that are fee-based. If I were to pay anyone, it just might be them.
The Station at Sony.com has two of our favorite games to play together - Wheel of Fortuneand Jeopardy. The Station's sign-up is fairly painless and you can start playing Jeopardy immediately as a Guest.
Disney.com is a super place to play online games with your younger elementary child. Shockwave is all you will need here to get started.
Your best source for software versions of classic board and card games is Hasbro Interactive. Note that you must purchase the retail version of the game to play online. Check out Monopoly, Risk, Pictionary, Boggle, Clue, Life, Outburst, Scrabble, Yahtzee, and others. You will also find software versions of classic Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley games at Hasbro.