Kids spend far less time playing cards than their parents did

Card games a dying skill.
Card games a dying skill. Photo: Getty

Are your children too busy staring at computer and tablet screens to learn how to play traditional card games?

According to a new report released by the credit card company Barclaycard, the answer would be yes for most parents.

It claims children's card games such as Snap, Beggar Your Neighbour and Old Maid are being replaced by computer games and social media.

The report found fewer than half of all children play traditional card games, a concern for parents and educationalists who believe children should not rely solely on technology for educational games.

Clinical psychologist at the Quirky Kid Clinic, Doctor Kathryn Berry, understands that technology is the way of the future, but agrees there are some skills it just can't teach.

"I don't want to demonise technology because I think that's here to stay and it has its place, but of course there's the need for kids to be playing card games, board games, free play and interacting with family as well," Dr Berry said.

Unlike today's children, these types of games were ingrained in the childhood of older generations, with the report claiming three quarters of parents born as young as 1980 learned to play with a pack of cards.

This means only 44 per cent of children between seven and 14 years old understand the makings of a 52-cards pack, the worth of Aces, Kings, Queens and Jacks, and of course the games and skills that accompany them.

Instead, they are buried in their gadgets and gizmos.


The Barclaycard report found almost twice as many children and young teenagers game alone with a mobile or tablet than their elders did, which can deter children from learning vital social skills.

"Playing with a flat, shiny screen as a young child is not going to be as helpful as getting outside or playing and interacting with family members over a card game or a board game," Dr Berry believes.

There is no room for depth perception to develop when kids interact with a screen instead of real-life objects, which also deters them from developing physical skills such as coordination, balance, and fine motor control.

While many smartphone apps can prove quite educational, some language and learning skills can be attained only through verbal interaction, Dr Berry explained.

She said any games that involve arithmetic, problem-solving, memory skills or social interactions are great for childhood development.

Here are ten games that involve one or several of these skills for a range of ages (most suggested by Dr Berry):

1. Chess (ages six and over):  The Barclaycard study also found that Chess is on the steep decline, with fewer than a quarter of children knowing the rules, compared to around half of their parents. It's great for memory skills, strategising and problem-solving.

2. Card games (range of ages): Snap, Go Fish, Old Maid, Beggar Your Neighbour, Pig, Spoons, I doubt It, Go Boom, Crazy Eights, Bridge. These games teach a wide variety of skills, and Dr Berry says "any kind of card game is fantastic".

3. Connect 4 (Ages six and over): Helps kids with basic counting and problem-solving.

4. Monopoly (ages eight and over): Great for developing arithmetic skills, as well as encouraging healthy competition and interaction with others.

5. Brain Quest (comes in different grade levels): A specifically mathematical-based card game that also helps sharpen arithmetic.

6. Jenga (ages six and over): A game that requires both physical and mental skill as you take turns removing blocks while trying to keep the structure stable.

7. Scrabble (ages eight and over): A board game that enhances language and speech skills

8. Game of Life (ages nine and over): Another board game that teaches kids about priorities and goals

9. Guess Who (ages six and over): A card game that encourages deducting reasoning, speech development and question formulation. Great for kids with speech deficits.

10. Battleship (ages seven and over): Another problem-solving and strategising game for older kids

So now you know which games are great to play with your kids, how do you get them to do it?

Dr Berry perceives it as a case of monkey see, monkey do.

"As adults, we're the role models for our children, and we are getting pulled into technology more. Kids are watching us as adults, so rather than just saying 'go out and play' [to your kids], it's about looking at us as parents," Dr Berry said.

This means observing how you interact with your family and putting technology away for at least two hours a night while homework needs to be done.

Card and board games are not only wonderful ways for children to develop cognitive, social and physical skills, but they also a way to strengthen personal connections and encourage quality family time.

So the next time your child reaches for their remote, consider passing a deck of cards instead.