What Playing Board Games Does To Your Brain

  • Mums & Bubs

Battling with your kids (and yourself) trying to reduce the families screen time? It is potentially one of the biggest challenges of the moment, with more and more of our lives, and the kid’s lives, revolving around computers, tablets and TVs.

When thinking of new ways to help your children “unplug and play”, you don’t have to get crazy creative or spend lots of money. In fact, studies say that board games (which you can buy for around $20 new, or even less at an op shop) not only develop problem-solving skills, but they can even help improve your kid’s math grades. Board games are great for adults too, they not only decrease your chances of developing diseases such as dementia* and Alzheimer’s, but they are thought to lower stress levels, help improve your logic, and make you a better learner. There was also a French study** which showed that board games, such as Hasbro’s world-famous Monopoly, can improve brain function and prevent dementia. 

As well as the studies showing how board games affect your brain, the positive social impact of less screen time, more family time, is obvious. When sitting around playing a board game your family will talk to each other, spend time together, and help younger kids learn important lessons such as taking turns, working as a team, and that actions have consequences. Another important lesson is learning not to be a sore loser, or winner, for that matter. Trying new things and failing in a safe environment such as family game night can help prepare your child for those inevitable times in later life when things might not go their way.

Are all board games created equal?

No matter the game you play, it will help your kids’ development — from lessons in managing money in PayDay to learning to think critically in Guess Who? refining fine motor skills with Jenga and improving their spelling with a game of UpWords. 

Board games come in all shapes and sizes: from the more adult-focused Trivial Pursuit to the kid-friendly Hungry Hippos — companies such as Hasbro have been providing us with family fun for decades. If you have a large age range of children in your family, it doesn’t have to mean that board games are off the table. Try teaming up for more complex games or choosing a game designed for all ages such as Trouble which can be played from four years upwards or Operation which can be played from six upwards.

When you suggest playing board games it can sometimes get a mixed reaction from family and friends. They are like Vegemite — people seem to love them or hate them. Whether you have been scarred for life by long, drawn-out games of Cluedo that seemed to never end or entangled in a year-long argument about who lost the vital piece from your Mouse Trap game — with so many board game options out there nowadays, there is most definitely a game that everyone will love. Plus, with more modern road-trip-friendly versions of old classics, such as Hasbro’s Monopoly Deal, games no longer have to take ages to set up or be confined to sitting around the dining table.

So, what are you waiting for, get gaming!

Thanks to Hasbro: This article is brought to you in partnership with Hasbro Gaming, our Supporting Brand Partner for the Unplug & Play Initiative.

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* A study by JAMA Psychiatry, 2018.
**A prospective population-based study begun in 1988.