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The stay-at-home dad: I don’t give a ‘Kahoot’

by TYLER WILSON/Coeur Voice contributor
| October 13, 2021 1:00 AM

I’m pretty cutthroat about trivia.

While I’m not sharp or quick enough for a “Jeopardy” audition, I do enjoy playing along with various quiz shows and burning through various question-based board games. Occasionally, my competitive spirit turns me into one of those guys who makes excuses or argues over the answers/points.

Me: “Well, technically, that’s not Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s first rap song. He raps in ‘Moana’ and also had a guest appearance in a Wyclef Jean song back in 2000.”

It’s probably for the best that I haven’t attended bar trivia in a few years.

I recently discovered my four kids share my competitive spirit for trivia. Unfortunately, their lack of general knowledge makes playing games with them absolutely insufferable.

My fifth-grade daughter introduced the family to Kahoot!, an online learning platform for schools and workplace training. You can essentially make your own multiple choice quizzes and incorporate timers and scoring bonuses for faster responses. You can also access the thousands of community-made quizzes, including games tailored to specific grade levels and subject matter.

It’s not only educational. There are general Disney-themed quizzes, and even games on deeply specific corners of popular culture. My fifth-grader also likes making her own quizzes, often about herself, then challenges the rest of us with her egotistical test. I can thank a recent test for learning my daughter’s fourth favorite Barbie character.

Players access the quiz via code on an individual device, be it a smartphone, laptop, etc. Then the “host” Chromecasts their question screen on our living room TV. Our 4-year-old plays on my team because he can’t read, but I can tell him which button to push based on the color/shape listed for each of the four options.

This all sounds like a fun family game night, right? Well, it’s not. If you want to keep the peace in your house, I don’t recommend playing Kahoot quizzes with a 10, 8, 6 and 4-year-old all at the same time.

Look, I know I’m a big part of the problem. I like to win, even with trivia for kids. I use the 4-year-old as cover. He hasn’t yet mastered the art of graceful losing, so I dominate the game so he can feel good. So he doesn’t throw a fit.

Sometimes, however, he really slows me down in those timed questions. Because he makes the selection on my phone, there can be a delay between when I whisper the answer and when he taps the screen. Faster, kid! The 10-year-old knows most of the answers too, and we need to beat her on those speed points!

Our 8-year-old is a good reader but definitely needs to take his time to understand the question and process the different answer choices. Problem is he doesn’t like to take his time. He sees the first letter of an answer choice, and if that sounds close enough, he chooses it immediately. He misses a lot of easy questions and gets really angry about it. If you tell him to slow down, he just gets more angry.

So against my own competitive spirit, I agreed to wait 10 seconds on each question in order to allow the younger players a chance to choose an answer. I hate this rule, and so does the 4-year-old, but it at least gives the middle kids a fighting chance. Or so you would think. My 8-year-old still chooses an answer after three seconds and then rages about missing the points.

He’ll say, “I meant to choose Green!” or “I knew that!” or “What? I clicked the right answer but it changed it!” or “I hate this game!”

My 6-year-old, on the other hand, doesn’t care about points or time limits. She lets the entire clock run down, sometimes as long as 60 seconds, even when she knows the answer right away.

Question: “What season does it snow?”

My 6-year-old (mumbling under her breath): “The answer is winter. And that’s the green button. But I’m going to look over all the answers just to be sure. Let’s see… red is… summer. No, not that one…”

Sometimes the clock runs out on her completely and she scores 0 points. That makes her angry. Sometimes she doesn’t know the answer. That makes her really, really angry. I forgot to mention that my 6-year-old thinks she knows everything.

At least our 10-year-old has no issues playing the game though she gets mad at the other kids and their “bad attitudes.” By the time a single game is over, it seems like everyone has either cried or shouted or gotten mad at Dad for getting all the answers right.

Then everyone begs to play again. Immediately. Why?! Nobody had fun!

Now we just find real specific quizzes that cater to each kid, then beg the other kids to “play nice” during that particular round. Our 8-year-old dominated the “Trollhunters” quiz (I placed last, which was infuriating). I also regularly let the 6-year-old see my screen when I select answers, and even though she claims she doesn’t cheat, her scores seem to be improving across the board.

It also helps to find quizzes on the platform made by other children, because the answers often make no sense. A sample quiz about Disney had the following series of questions:

“What’s the top Disney movie?”

What’s the second top Disney movie?”

And so on through 12 different titles.

Is it asking for box office performance? If so, is it straight grosses or adjusted for inflation? In the end I think it was just some kid’s personal list. I missed several of these questions, which the kids loved, and I nearly threw my phone into the television.

Such a happy family game night.

• • •

Tyler Wilson is a freelance writer and stay-at-home dad to four kids, ages 4-10. He is tired. He can be reached at twilson@cdapress.com.

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