If you’re in your 40’s, but your kids roll their eyes and say “OK, boomer” every time you suggest a fun family activity, it might be tempting to disable their internet access - but, let’s be honest, they’ve probably changed the password on you already.
Today’s kids are one of the first generations raised with technology around (and on) them at all times. Reducing the solitary screen time that kids spend while on their smartphones, tablets and gaming consoles is a goal for many parents during March break. Our list of tech-inspired, but family-friendly activities is here to help.
Getting your kids to connect with you instead of their devices will make you feel like the cool Gen X parent that you are. So throw on those boot-cut jeans, your Nirvana tee, and tell the kids to ‘talk to the hand’ when they start to protest.
Content warning: More 90’s slang ahead. ‘Booyah!’
Arcades: Dig through your sofa cushions for all the spare change that’s been collecting there since the late 90’s, then head on down to the local arcade (Ottawa has a few), where you can play some of your favourite retro arcade and pinball games. Bonus: You stand a really good chance of beating your kids. They’ll be the ones screaming ‘As if!’
Laser Tag: It doesn’t matter if you’re a boomer, gen-xer or millennial, lasers are always cool. And with all the running, hunting and hiding, the whole family is bound to get a good workout as well.
- Alternative: If you’re not comfortable bringing kids to crowded spaces yet, consider online Jackbox Party games. Your television is your playing board and each person uses their personal smartphone or tablet as a controller to play cheeky party games like Quiplash, Fibbage and Drawful. They’re as fun as they sound and available on a variety of platforms. If you’re looking to get everyone’s heart-rate up, 90’s songs are trending on TikTok, and if your kids aren’t too embarrassed, maybe they’ll teach you some new dance choreography - or you can teach them some old-school moves. You can still do the Carlton, Running Man and Vogue, right?
Geocaching: Get outside and take your family on a treasure-hunt adventure. After downloading the free geocaching app, follow specific GPS coordinates and clues to navigate your way all over the city in search of hidden caches of treasure. Chances are there are dozens of geocaches waiting to be found right in your neighbourhood.
Museums: Ottawa is ‘the bomb’ when it comes to having seven of the country’s nine national museums. From fossils, cold war bunkers, and of course, science and technology, there are plenty of digital elements and interactive exhibits within Ottawa’s modern museums that are sure to inspire and keep kids entertained.
- Alternative: Explore museums and the world virtually thanks to Google Families. In addition to interactive activities with famous museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian, families can tour and learn about some of the world’s most historical cities and sites, or even learn to code together with some kid-friendly computer science. There are also games and apps specifically designed for kids with disabilities. For parents, find out ‘what’s crackalackin’’ when it comes to online safety and setting up parental controls.
Night Walk: Whether it’s a haunted walk or a family stroll, downtown Ottawa at night sparkles thanks to its gorgeous evening skyline lit with electricity. Catch the Light Rail and make it an environmentally-sustainable night out on the town.
- Alternative: Isn’t it time you used your smart speaker for more than controlling your lights? Take advantage of your smart speaker for a modern twist on storytime. Play audiobooks or podcasts to help unwind and calm the kids before bedtime. Blankets and snuggling up with the kids encouraged.
Virtual reality: Ottawa is home to some unique virtual reality (VR) studios and experiences. Whether it’s simulated racing, more laid-back gaming, or some physically-active VR; there’s something for the whole family.
- Alternative: From mind-bending riddles and wacky memory games, your smart speaker has a wide selection of home games to keep every generation entertained. Get up and move (or freeze) with freeze dance, or play music trivia where you guess the artist or song title based on a portion of the song. You’ll laugh, dance and learn. We especially like this selection of the best home games from Digital Trends.
Spending quality time together doesn’t mean that tech and family have to be mutually exclusive, and thankfully, technology opens up plenty of fun options. As the first generation to grow up with personal computers, we Gen Xers may be sarcastic and aloof, but we are also resourceful and known for prioritizing work-life balance. They may not think it yet, but your kids will look back and realize you were ‘all that and a bag of chips.’