The Quarantine Families That Play Together Stay Together

The Quarantine Kids are alright. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Florida musician Colt Clark found himself with no gigs and a lot of time at home with his children. So he, his kids, and his wife, Aubree, started making YouTube videos of themselves performing popular songs such as the Who’s “Baba O’Riley.” The videos quickly went viral, racking up millions of views and gaining the family national media coverage. But why so popular?

These Quarantine Kids have tapped into a universal human truth: families are being hit hard by the pandemic, especially those with little ones at home. Parents are under stress as they continue to look for ways to keep their kids occupied with meaningful things to do while Mom and Dad manage the realities of managing their careers from home, too. The Clarks have shown everyone how to do that with digital as part of the experience.

Fortunately, some major brands are also stepping up to help families, especially by incorporating digital to create and learn together. Here are some of our favorite examples. 

1. Google Arts & Culture

The Passion of Portuguese language. Black history and culture. The majesty of National Parks. These immersive worlds of exploration and much more are available on the Google Arts & Culture site. Arts & Culture has been around for quite some time. But during the pandemic, Google has beefed up the site with families in mind, including a family-dedicated portal in which families choose different learning adventures ranging from virtual tours of museums to a closer look at science and space

Why we love it: it’s intuitive, fun, multicultural, and visually stunning. No one serves up knowledge at a global level like Google! Bonus points for an augmented reality experience. 

2. Guardians of History and Missing Link Adventures 

Guardians of History and Missing Link Adventures are examples of using the power of our voices to learn about history and the world around us.

Guardians of History, from Britannica, gives families a chance to go back in time and save the world — with the help of Alexa or Google Assistant. Participants use their voices to go back in time to Ancient Greece and try to solve a mystery and prevent time from being rearranged. Along the way, families hear the sounds of ancient Greek locations such as bustling agora, or Greek marketplace, and they can throw in with the Olympic Games. It’s all part of Britannica’s ongoing mission to deliver knowledge through digital technology.

Missing Link Adventures is the result of a collaboration between Annapurna Pictures and Isobar. Missing Link Adventures is inspired by the Annapurna Pictures film Missing Link, in which a Sasquatch (Mr. Link) and an explorer travel to the fabled land of Shangri-La to find Mr. Link’s relatives. Missing Link Adventures keeps the adventure going by offering 100 paths to travel with 15,000 possible journeys around the world. Characters from the movie invite families to go on treasure hunts through their homes. Along the way, families tackle physical challenges such as slithering on the floor together. Learn more about our work on this project here.

Why we love it: families explore history and their own world while playing a game – and they explore the ever-evolving voice-first world together. (And Missing Link Adventures involves physical play). Also, these experiences by their nature rely on sounds — you use your mind to paint the complete picture. And

3. The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival

The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is an annual video contest in which young filmmakers create movies that tell the entire stories of Newbery-winning books in about 90 seconds. And these are really, really cool – like the middle schoolers who posted a satire of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time or  the Heath family’s tender interpretation of Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie. The deadline for submitting entries for this year’s contest is January 15, 2021. Bravo, Newbery!

Why we love it: reading books. Making movies. Having fun together. What’s not to love?

4. Scratch from the MIT Media Lab

The MIT Media Lab makes it possible for families to learn how to code together. It’s all happening on Scratch. Scratch is a programming language and an online community for kids to program and share interactive media such as stories and animation with people from all over the world. “As children create with Scratch, they learn to think creatively, work collaboratively, and reason systematically,” according to MIT. Scratch is designed for people aged 8 to 16. But a simplified version of Scratch is available for kids aged 5-7. The online destination is managed by Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab.

Why we love it: creativity. Coding. And . . . free! Dive in, play, and learn.

And That’s Not All

These are just a few examples of many, many compelling ways organizations offer digital experiences that help families create new memories together. During the pandemic, everyone from Dolly Parton to meditation app Headspace has created online content to engage families and provide some relief from the stress of the pandemic. In all these cases the key is to:

  • Rely on digital as a means to an end, not the end-all-and-be-all.
  • Create a shared experience instead of an isolating one.
  • Provide great content, whether to educate or to challenge kids to make movies.

It’s all about the experience. Always. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help your brand build digital experiences to engage families at home, contact Asher Wren to schedule a free consultation.