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How To Guide Your Child Through An Escape Room Experience

Whether you're looking for an escape room for teens, or for younger kids, this guide will help you navigate all the perils of introducing your family to their most exciting adventure yet!
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Remember, new stuff is scary even for adults! The best thing you can do is listen, and be there for them... then, try these tips:

Get Ready. Sharing Your Adventure Will Take Some Prep Work

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In all the excitement of 'escape room fever', we don't blame you for wanting to share that adventure with your kids. I mean, come on, there can't be any better family memory than escaping an Egyptian tomb together, right?!

However, you've got some very real reasons for pause. For a start, think of the intimidating puzzles you came across in your last game... now imagine how scary that would look to your kids! (Then again, that sixth-grade math you "helped" your kid with last night was equally terrifying, so how bad could the puzzle be?). 

Some puzzles in escape rooms may be beyond the reach of younger kids. They may not have the experience to recognize the variables involved in solving the problem. A group of adults generally have one or two people who can handle a tricky puzzle, but a group of teens may not. However, most escape rooms should be a fun, accessible challenge for a family who works together. Four out of five kids agree that escape rooms are more fun than classroom worksheets and tests. (We think that fifth kid misunderstood the question.)

As a good parent, you'll want to find the optimal escape room so that you can hook them into the escape room craze. This means you'll need to do some research to find a teen escape room or one that's friendlier for young kids. We'll show you the information to look for as you try to find an excellent first-time escape room experience for the whole family.

What's An Escape Room?

Escape rooms are immersive, problem-solving challenges based around a story. You may find yourself standing on sand in the mummy's tomb or surrounded by beakers in the lab of the mad terrorist. You may even find yourself in the middle of a swamp waiting for the killer to return. You must follow the clues, solve the puzzles, and keep your wits about you to escape. Think of an escape room as a live Netflix series. Instead of watching Money Heist, you get to rob the bank and escape with the cash! Do you have your deserted island hideaway prepped?

Most escape rooms have a 60-minute time limit. A gamemaster watches your progress. The gamemaster provides hints when requested and may throw in a freebie or two to push you along. Some escape rooms add time to your final score if you ask for hints. Learn the house rules on hints before starting the game. (And no, the gamemaster does not accept bribes, although it never hurts to ask.)
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Along the way, you will solve puzzles that give clues to combination locks, lock boxes, and door locks. You may have to solve a cipher or find hidden clues in documents left in the room. No specialized information is needed. If a context is required, such as the date of an event, it is always provided by the escape room. You don't need to walk in knowing where the world's largest ball of twine is located.

The details of the escape room will dazzle your kids. The props and decorations will draw them into the game. While it may seem overwhelming, the atmosphere will enhance the experience and push them from puzzle to puzzle. The countdown clock will create urgency. Your kids will become teen escape room fiends before your eyes.

How to Research an Escape Room for Teens

Most escape rooms provide excellent information on their websites. They rate the difficulty and intensity and usually provide short trailers discussing the room's concept. Most also publish success rates. This makes finding an escape room for teens a breeze.

Look for a theme that your kids will enjoy. If they love history, try to find an Egyptian tomb themed escape room. If they hate snakes, stay away from the Indiana Jones room. Actually, given all of the scrapes Indy got into, you may want to stay away from him completely.

Look at the difficulty rating and the finishing rate to determine the game's difficulty. The designer provides the difficulty rating. However, the finishing rate determines if the designer appreciates the difficulties. Consider these together when trying to find a room. If you have a bunch of first-timers, we recommend a room rated medium or lower.
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Think about the intensity of the room. The intensity usually refers to how spooky a room is. While most rooms don't have actors, some have sounds, lights, or other effects to raise the tension. If you are concerned about the room being too scary, go for a lower intensity level. Also, look for less intense subjects, like bank robberies or airplane hijackings.

Finally, look up reviews on the room's site and on Google. Check out posts on the site's social media pages. Ignore scathing reviews. These usually result from sour grapes. The reviews in the middle range probably give the best idea of what to expect.

Remember, it's just for fun. You may escape, you may not. Either way, there's ice cream after!

Bring Them Up To Speed Before the Game

Going in blind is a surefire recipe for a panic attack, so walk them through the event beforehand. Kids hate dealing with uncertainty.

Unless your kids are particularly anxious, you don't need to go into excruciating detail. First, let them know how the night will play out. If you tell them you're going for treats afterward, this will make the sales pitch a snap. They will be off and running like Fred throwing Shaggy a Scooby Snack.

Take them through the escape room concept. They will be in a room or series of rooms. There will be lavish decorations. They'll have to solve puzzles based on clues in the room - you could even give them an easy example puzzle as a taster. For an hour, they will be little Sherlock Holmeses, uncovering clues and solving puzzles to escape from the room.

If they have trouble understanding the concept, tell them an escape room is a live-action video game. Instead of controlling the characters, they are the characters. If they seem not to understand this, they are pulling a fast one on you. Start over.
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Let them know what the escape room isn't. This is not a haunted house. There are no actors. No one is jumping out at you. While a well-done escape room may be spooky, you are the only ones in there. Take your time, take a deep breath, and get to sleuthing!

Let them know they are a team. No one wins on their own. There is no MVP. The team either escapes, or it doesn't. And it can only escape if everyone works together. Brothers and sisters can go back to fighting like cats and dogs when the game ends, but for 60 minutes, they have to work together.

Finally, let them know that they need to think creatively.
 If you need a refresher on escape room 'best practice', check out this guide, then talk them through some examples. The map doesn't look right to you? Rotate it 180 degrees. Do you need a three-number combination? Focus on clues that seem to give three numbers. The puzzles may have little twists, but that makes it more fun. When they talk about the clues after the game, watch how they grow in difficulty. You'll think that they cracked the code for the Rosetta Stone or figured out how to eliminate rush hour traffic forever!

Set Expectations Early

You need to set expectations, both for yourself and your kids. First, set them for yourself. You are not a coach. This is not the Super Bowl. Win or lose your prize will be a quick photo posted on social media. And it probably won't even show your best side.

Remember that it's ok if they get stuck. Help, if you can, but this is a game for them. Let them succeed and fail. Make sure you're having a good time, and they will too.

Set expectations for them. Let them know that not everybody escapes, especially the first time. If they get stuck, they should ask for hints. The final time is not important. There is no Escape Room World Series (although there should be!). Have fun moving from puzzle to puzzle.

Even if they don't escape, they will have fun. Watch afterward as they talk about the puzzles they solved and the ones they couldn't conquer. Don't worry about recommending another escape room. They will ask for one.

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Do They Need A Warm-Up Escape Room?

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If you think a real escape room may be a little too much for them right off the bat, download a DIY escape room. These rooms are easy to set up, and you can play them in the safety of your living room. You just download the game, print it out, decorate the room to your desired level of detail, and play the game.

In every respect, DIY escape rooms are the same as commercial escape rooms. Players must solve puzzles. A digital gamemaster checks your solutions and offers hints. The clock is ticking. Adrenaline is high.

Think of the DIY escape room as the rehearsal for the larger commercial rooms. Your kids will now understand the concept and shouldn't be intimidated by the setting and puzzles. For bonus points, turn the DIY teen escape room game into a larger event, like a party or sleepover. The kids will have a blast! But be careful, they may request an encore...

Well, What Are You Waiting For?

So, are you ready to share the adventure? Escape rooms pulse with energy. Your kids will buzz with excitement as they zoom about the room, searching for clues and solving puzzles. Watch them get excited when they succeed and worried when the answer won't come. Laugh as they debate whether to take the time penalty for requesting a clue. You'll know right away that you've hooked them into the escape room craze!

Bring your family to an escape room for teens near you. You'll love the experience and have a great family outing. And don't just reserve it for your hometown. Great escape rooms exist all over. Play them on vacation, trips to grandma's house, or school field trips. Have a blast!
Playing Lost Mummy escape room game at home with Laura's family

Transform Your Living Room Into An Escape Room Adventure Tonight!

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