Blog: I Spy or iPad to beat boredom on car trips

Parents favour the playing I Spy or iPad routes to keeping chidren entertained in the car.

Parents favour the playing I Spy or iPad routes to keeping chidren entertained in the car. - Credit: PA

Long car journeys and young children can be fraught but how do you keep them amused, asks motoring editor Andy Russell.

I used to love long car journeys when our boys were small because it was a great excuse to play games to relieve the boredom.

Computers were in their infancy – and out of our price range at the time – so it was family fun rather than electronic entertainment. While our elder son, Ben, had the ability to read for hours in the car, just thinking of doing so made younger son Tim feel queasy.

So we played lots of observation and memory games, which meant that whoever was driving – me or my wife, not the children – could take part too.

I was reminded of the games we played when I read that a new survey says the most popular ways to keep a child entertained on a long journey are playing I Spy or just giving them an iPad.

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While 31% take the easy way out and hand over a tablet device loaded with games, videos or music, 30% still do it the old-fashioned way with games such as I Spy and car colours.

And 21% of the parents surveyed by Halfords said their children were happy with a book during a car journey, although 35% of the total admitted they had to bribe their kids with sweets or snacks.

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When it came to I Spy, Ben had a habit of picking something we had passed 10 miles back so it was a game of memory rather than observation and, if you pick things in the car, there are only so many options and DOTD – 'dust on the dashboard' is a bit convoluted... and a sad reflection of the state of the car!

We also each picked a car colour – such as red, blue, white, black – and the one who spotted the most of their colour on the journey, or first to see 100, won. That's when I learned children have X-ray vision to see inside garages and round corners to bump their totals up.

Another favourite was 'I packed my bag and in it I put...' when you not only added something into the imaginary bag but also had to remember all the things other people had put into it. All I can say is that it must have been a huge bag... as overstretched as the boys' imaginations!

We even had our own version of 'Name that Tune' – Ben would 'whistle' and we had to guess what it was. If you've ever had the misfortune to hear Ben whistle you'll understand why we never got the tune right, or even had a clue, and often could not identify it even when told the answer.

Actually, thinking about that last form of 'entertainment', giving him an iPad would have been preferable.

How do you keep children entertained on long car journeys? Email

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