Gather Around Your Mobile Device | LeahNieman.comWe’re headed into the holiday season. We’re sure to see articles suggesting that families aren’t connecting because of their digital devices. I think it’s easy to blame our neglect of engagement with others on an object. It’s easier to do that because, by doing so, it means that we don’t have to accept the responsibility ourselves. But what if we embrace our mobile device as a tool for connecting? Not on a superficial level, but one where we are engaging with our friends and family.

This year, I want to challenge you to gather around your mobile device for a fun family game.

Our devices mean that it’s now possible to play fun family games in the car, on an airplane, and right in the kitchen while those holiday meals are being prepared. Best of all, games can be played by everyone in the family so grandparents, parents, young adults and kids can all join in the fun.

Here are a few family friendly games you might like to try:

storylinesStoryLines

StoryLines might bring back memories of the old school “Telephone” game for some of us. To begin playing, the first player types in a phrase. They can also choose an option from one of four categories: elementary vocabulary, intermediate vocabulary, SAT words, or quotes. The second player must draw a picture to go with the phrase and then passes it on to a third player. The third player is asked to write a caption for what the second player has drawn. Play continues anywhere from three to nine rounds. At the end, the entire StoryLine is revealed.

It’s always funny to see how the original saying was passed along with each round, hence the “Telephone” game feel. There is no winning or losing, so it’s a great game to play when you have kids who really get upset when playing games where there are winners and losers. StoryLines is all about playing with words and having fun. All kinds of hilarious alterations of the original content happen so it’s a lighthearted game. Although the game is fun and lighthearted, it’s not a mindless fluff game. Players do need to be creative as they use a variety of words and phrases and draw images to capture phrases.

Suggested Ages 8+
Available for Apple
Price: Free

thegameoflifeTHE GAME OF LIFE Classic Edition

The digital version is like the Classic Game of Life board game that you grew up with, but with some snazzy special effects. What’s great about this game is the multiplayer option is pass and play. This means that everyone plays the game face-to-face. It’s the perfect game for long car rides. I also love that the digital version doesn’t take up an entire table. Players can easily keep a game going even if tables in the house are covered with a feast of holiday food.

Suggested Ages 8+
Available for Apple, Android
Price: $0.99

ticket_to_rideTicket To Ride

This is an adaption of the classic board game. I wish I could compare the two, but I’ve not played the board game. The digital version is really beautiful. Up to five players can play on the same device, so it’s a great game to play when you have that one extra player. Players crisscross the United States claiming possible railroad routes in hopes of building a rail-line empire. Players are dealt secret destination cards that show two cities to connect. They take turns tactically placing virtual train cards to build routes across the map. Ticket to Ride is a game of strategy as players try to block others while building their own rail empire. If you are like me and not familiar with the board game, don’t worry. The app features a great tutorial so you can watch and get started playing quickly.

Suggested Ages 8+
Available for Apple, Kindle Fire, Android
Price: $6.99

scrabbleScrabble

This is just the classic Scrabble board game. Up to four people can play. The game moves just like the board game. Players can swap tiles, shuffle their tiles, and recall tiles from the board during a turn they no longer wish to play. A dictionary is available to consult as needed; it features a two-letter word list. Additional help is found by tapping the Best Word option. This creates and places the most valuable word on the board from the tiles a player has available. You don’t have to worry about an argument breaking out about whether or not a word played is actually a word as the digital version is judge and jury on this. That alone might be worth playing the digital version!

Suggested Ages 8+
Available for Apple, Kindle Fire, Android
Price: Free for iPad and Android, $4.99 for Kindle Fire

These are just a few family games I love. I’d love to hear which ones your family is having fun playing as well. Feel free to share in the comments below.

Let’s make sure that, as we gather around our devices this holiday season, we’re gathering together. Let’s use our devices as a tool to help us create fun family memories!

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