The Healthy Benefits of Online Games
By: R. L. Fielding
The universal appeal of online games is astounding. Research shows that one in four internet users visit online game websites, bringing the annual total to more than 217 million online game players worldwide. Online game communities are populated by people from both sexes and all age groups. Everywhere, people are spending time playing strategy, board and trivia games. But is all this game play healthy? Yes – probably in more ways than you think.
Boost Memory and Develop Cognitive Skills
Problem-solving has long been known to improve brain function, but finding the right games or a partner to play with has sometimes made it difficult to exercise these skills on a regular basis. Today young and old alike are finding fun challenges and cognitive boosters in online games targeting memory and responsiveness. Puzzle games such as Mahjong or Sudoku, trivia games like Slingo MatchUms and strategy games like Quiximity are easy to learn and start playing, yet offer an ongoing challenge for players.
Adults tend to use certain parts of their brains often, while other parts are less active. By playing games that focus on reasoning, logic, speed and memory, you can “work out” those lesser used parts of the brain. Studies have shown that memory, puzzle, trivia and logic games can help stave off dementia and the forgetfulness that sometimes comes with old age. Using all areas of the brain can have big benefits for you now and as you grow older.
For children, these same challenges can enhance the cognitive development they are undergoing as they grow. Where speed and memory might not be as much of a challenge to a 13-year-old, reasoning and logic probably are. Games have always been a part of the childhood growth cycle. Alternating physical play with today’s plethora of online games offers a healthy balance and gives the brain the workout it needs.
Foster Social Interaction
Mental challenges, cooperative play and rich story lines draw game players in, but part of what makes online games highly popular is the social interaction. Through online interactions, players build both casual and meaningful relationships.
Through time spent in multiplayer games and online game communities, players have the opportunity to strengthen existing relationships and meet new people. Chatting with partners or competitors during play adds a higher level of enjoyment to the game and creates a sense of camaraderie. Players often find that partnering up with someone to overcome a difficult challenge through personal experience and know-how can be as satisfying online as it is in the real world.
Multiplayer online games and online game communities offer opportunities to promote social interaction within existing relationships as well. When friends and family members are miles apart, staying in contact can be challenging at best. But, today grandpa and grandson can go head to head each night battling it out over chess, backgammon and 8-ball, while old college buddies are playing checkers, bingo and sub-hunt – all the while talking about the day and staying involved in each other’s lives.
Illness and Recovery
There is also the potential for online games to help families deal with chronic illness and other health issues. In 2006, the not-for-profit Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation released several online games designed to help children understand and cope with serious illness. Games can be easier to understand than books and pamphlets, especially when dealing with health. From battling cancer cells to understanding bone morrow, from pain management to managing dyslexia, free online games allow families to use imagination and creativity, while opening the door to understanding and recovery.
Slingo.com is a leading online destination for people who enjoy playing games, winning prizes and having fun. Slingo offers free, original online games, downloadable games, and contests with cash prizes, as well as a social-networking community for game players. For more information, please visit http://www.slingo.com.
By R.L. Fielding
About R.L. Fielding
R.L. Fielding has been a freelance writer for 10 years, offering her expertise and skills to a variety of major organizations in the education, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, financial services, and manufacturing industries. She lives in New Jersey with her dog and two cats and enjoys rock climbing and ornamental gardening.