Talk of the Playground: Board games

Dubit asks if digital is the most popular new way for families to play board games...
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When comes to board games children still prefer the real thing rather than playing the digital equivalent on iPads and PCs. That’s one of the findings from research conducted by youth research specialists, Dubit, on behalf of ToyNews this month.

By the age of 12, 98 per cent of kids have played at least one of the 17 board games featured in the survey, which included classics such as Snakes and Ladders, Monopoly and Connect Four. Dubit’s data – which includes research from 500 children – shows that 33 per cent of children have played between five and eight of the games, while 30 per cent have played between nine and 12 overall.


The classic Snakes and Ladders is the most popular board game with kids, played by 84 per cent of children. This is closely followed by Connect Four (78 per cent) and Monopoly (73 per cent). Surprisingly, Chess and Draughts have only been played by 43 per cent and 42 per cent of children, respectively.


As we all know, board games play an important part in shaping how children play with each other. So Dubit looked at which games are the most sociable and how this changes when they become digital.

When playing with traditional board games, the titles children were most likely to play with their parents were the complex games, including Monopoly, Scrabble and Chess. When it came to playing with friends, the more hands-on games were most popular, such as Hungry Hippos, Operation and Mousetrap. A similar pattern is found when kids play with siblings, but with Guess Who taking the place of Mousetrap.

WHO DO YOU PLAY BOARD GAMES WITH? (Click to expand...)

Despite the popularity of digital devices, few children have played these classic board games on mobile devices and PCs. Only 42 per cent of the sample had played any of the named board games digitally. Even the most popular games – Monopoly, Chess, Battleships and Connect Four – have been played digitally, by only 18, 17, 14 and 14 per cent of kids respectively.

Due to this, it’s worth noting that the following is based on relatively low sample numbers. These figures show that the opportunity for children to play these board games on their own (against the computer) or online, results in far less playing time with parents.

With Scrabble, parental-play drops from 64 per cent to 22 per cent, as 29 per cent of digital Scrabble fans usually opt to play on their own. Playing with friends shows little sign of movement, while sibling play only drops by eight per cent.


Monopoly (the most popular of the digital board games listed) displays a similar pattern with parents, as the most popular multiplayer option, with parents, drops from 62 per cent in person to only 19 per cent. However, sibling play only drops by four per cent to 18 per cent.

Even the more cerebral games such as Chess, Scrabble and Boggle saw drops in parental play (falls of 21, 42, and 28 per cent respectively) as kids are aided by the computer instead.

While this study doesn’t show that board games can’t translate to digital, it does indicate that kids still see an appeal in the more hands-on way of playing, often involving their parents.

Dubit is a specialist youth research agency and digital development studio. By utilising a deep understanding of young people’s motivations and behaviours, Dubit works with brand owners worldwide to create digital experiences that children love. Phone: 0113 394 7920 Email:


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