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At first thought, board games and video games may not seem to have a lot in common. Board games are synonymous with family time and wholesome fun. Video games, on the other hand, tend to get a bad rap. They are often linked to violence and too much screen time. But the truth of the matter is that both board games and video games are good for you in a lot of the same ways. From increasing cognitive function to reducing stress, they share a lot of the same benefits. Here are some of the reasons board games and video games are good for you and your family.
Increased Cognitive Function
Board games, word games, and video games are good for you because they are all awesome for your brain. That is because playing games exercises your brain and gives you the opportunity to practice certain cognitive skills. Playing games stimulates the areas in your brain responsible for memory formation and complex thought processes. Games also help you exercise your decision making, problem solving, and strategic thinking skills.
Games take coordination and strategic thinking. As you play, you are using your brain to come up with ways to outsmart your opponents. In any type of game you play against other people, you have to think quickly on your feet. Whether you are constantly assessing your position or you are keeping an eye on your opponents who are trying to outmaneuver and beat you, you have to constantly think on your feet.
You are using reasoning, perception, memory, and spatial navigation skills. That is true whether you are playing a board game during family game night (we all have that certain someone in the family who is super competitive!) or you are playing an online video game against your friends.
The same goes for word games and word-related puzzles. Word games can obviously increase your vocabulary, but they are also good for your cognitive abilities like concentration and problem-solving.
Just like with exercising your body, the more you exercise your brain, the better and faster it works. Studies show that kids who play video games tend to have higher IQs than their peers. They also perform better when it comes to multitasking, problem-solving, and concentration. The same could be said for people who play board games and word games.
Another reason board games and video games are good for you is because they reduce stress. There are studies that show both board games and video games are good for you because they help people deal better with stress and frustration. Playing games is an escape. Gameplay allows you to have fun and blow off steam. Playing games also triggers the release of endorphins, those chemicals that tell your brain you feel happy. Enjoying that time and laughing with your friends and family reduces stress.
Laughter is the best medicine after all.
It is not just board games and video games that are good for you and your stress levels. All those crossword puzzles, word searches, and word game apps you can download to your phone or tablet are also a great way to relax and reduce stress. Getting lost in a word-related puzzle lets your mind unwind and that stress you have been building up all day just melts away.
Along those same lines, playing games provides social interaction. This is obvious when it comes to board games. Sitting around a table and playing a game of Monopoly or Ticket to Ride does not just involve rolling dice, passing go, or completing routes. It also involves hanging out together, talking, laughing, and having fun as a group.
Video games are good for you in the same way. Kids play video games together in the same room, or across the country and world. To say that kids talking over headsets is not social interaction is inaccurate. Nearly half of the time kids are playing video games with other people online, they are playing with friends they know. They talk and laugh about things that happened that day. They talk about school. They talk about their worries and anxieties. If you are not sold, listen to your kids the next time they log into Fortnite and start up a Battle Royale with their pals.
Besides interacting during gameplay, kids spend lots of time offline talking to their friends about playing video games. They talk about games they like to play, often games they like to play together. They talk about strategy, the best characters, weapons, vehicles, and loot. Strong friendships are formed and bonded over video game talk.
Benefit from Playing Games
What are you waiting for? Embrace the fact that board games and video games are good for you, and start reaping their benefits.
Set up a family game night once a week. Family game night does not have to be an extended evening of playing every game you own. It can be if you have the time and want to play for hours, but it is also alright if you play one hand of Uno or one game of Trouble. Your brain is still working and you are still spending that time together as a family, so you are getting the social time and the stress-reducing benefits of playing a game. It might not be long before that one hand of Uno turns into an hour-long family tournament.
Encourage your kids to play word games and puzzles. Whether it is a crossword puzzle, a word search, or a word game app on their tablet, encourage your kids to spend time flexing their brains with a word game. Reserve some time on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon where everyone takes half an hour and plays a game with words. You can tackle a word search together, or give everyone some time to choose their own game and spend some time on their own. It gives everyone time to relax and the chance to exercise concentration and problem solving (and it will probably also give everyone some quiet time, another great stress reducer).
Play video games with your kids. Since video games are good for you and for your kids, fire up the Wii, the Xbox, the Playstation, or whatever console you have. Battle it out in a game of bowling or table tennis. Kick your kids’ butts using your old school Super Mario Brothers and Mortal Combat skills. You can even delve into the world of Fortnite and let them show you how to dominate the competition in a Duos game. You will laugh. Your kids will be impressed by your skills. You might even be impressed by theirs.
Let your kids play online games with their friends. It is true. Video games are good for you. You do not have to let your kids play endless hours of Fortnite, but letting them play games online with their friends gives them social benefits. Set time limits. Set limits on the games they can play. Then let them play and have fun. They will talk in game with their friends, and then they will talk gamer talk with them offline too. It will also give them another chance to use their brains to think strategically, solve problems, and hone their coordination skills.
Board games, word games, and video games are good for you because they bring you together with other people. Adding some game time to your family’s routine not only gives you some family time, it is also good for you in so many other ways. It exercises all kinds of important parts of the brain and helps to reduce and manage stress. You do not have to give your kids unrestricted access to the game console, but a little bit of playing time can be really beneficial. It may go against some long-standing beliefs to start thinking video games are good for you, but it is time to embrace the digital gameplay, at least a little.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on 10 Ideas of How to Limit Screen Time for Children.
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Sources: Benefits of Playing Board Games, Benefits of Play Revealed in Research on Video Gaming, How Do Board Games Help Reduce Stress, 5 Advantages of Playing English Word Games, Teens, Video Games and Civics
Photo Credits: Unsplash.com