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How to keep young children engaged with loved ones on video calls

Family photography of siblings laughing on picnic blanket in woods
Family Photography Hertfordshire

Although lockdown has eased slightly, for those that are sheilding, zoom calls are still the main way to stay in touch with friends and family safely. But with young children having (very) short attention spans trying to keep them engaged on video calls is a real challenge! So I've put together a list of fun, family friendly games that can be played over Zoom that will keep the little one's attentions.

1. Pictionary

This classic game is very easy to play over Zoom by clicking the 'share screen' button that can be found in the meeting toolbar and selecting 'whiteboard' then 'share'. Use the selection of tools to draw a picture with your mouse for everyone to guess. If you run out of ideas for things to draw you can use an online idea generator like this one.

2. Charades

This family favourite is really easy to play virtually. Give the other teams a time restriction and make sure you use the 'spotlight' feature when it's your time to act. You can come up with ideas in your head or use an idea generator like this one designed specifically for children.

3. Name, Place, Animal, Thing

To play, pick a letter and each team or person has to type one famous person, place, animal and thing that begins with that letter into the chat function. Fastest answer wins!

4. Scavenger hunt

This is great if there are lots of kids playing. All you need is a list of common items like 'a red sock' which the children have to go off and find. Good rules to set are no running on the stairs and that you can't use something you are already wearing. The fastest child to bring that item back gets the point!

5. Simon says

This is great fun for kids and adults alike. Someone is 'Simon' and everyone must follow all their instructions that follow the words 'Simon says..' but, if you follow orders when the magic words aren't said then you're out. The last one in wins!

6. Head's up

For slightly older children this much loved guess who game is a great way to promote interaction with loved ones over video call. Just download the Head's Up app on Google play or the Apple store to a mobile device beforehand to play.

7. Scattergories

Scattergories is a fun game for all ages. There is a free generator here and participants will need paper and a pencil. Each team must come up with an item for each category beginning with the letter provided in 120 seconds. The more unique your answer the more points you get.

8. A simple Quiz

This requires someone to be the quiz master but it's a really great way to keep kids entertained. It works best with lots of children participating as questions are geared towards them. Here's one I found here.

9. Jackbox games

If you want something with a bit more interaction or you want to host a 'Games night' then Jackbox games are great fun over Zoom. The only downside is all participants will need their own mobile device to play (that's your controller) and the games must be purchased (but only by the host). Most games have a limit of 8 players but I can recommend 'drawful' as being lots of fun! Don’t forget to turn on the family friendly setting in the settings menu! This can be toggled on in the settings menu before you start a game.

I hope that was helpful to you all, I know how much my parents love seeing my kids on video calls but they just don't stick around for long! Hopefully, with these ideas, you can have great fun as a family once again! As always please leave a comment if you tried out any of these.

Family photography of girl in blue dress in woods
Family Photography Hertfordshire
Family photography of boy in blue shirt leaning against tree in woods
Family Photography Hertfordshire

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