It’s a well-known fact that playing games promotes personal development. In particular, board games enhance cognitive and social skills. According to some studies, they even change the brain structure and functionality. Researchers state that board games improve neurogenesis (the growth of new neurons) and neuroplasticity (the formation of new neural pathways and synapses).
New brain cells and improved connectivity between different brain regions ensure better cognitive functioning. In fact, everyone can benefit from board games in the long run as they stimulate players mentally and emotionally. Let’s consider what advantages board games have for learners.
1. Increased attention span
Basically, attention span is the amount of time you are able to focus on a certain thing. In today’s world, most of us are not able to keep attention on a single activity for a long time since we constantly get distracted. You’ve probably noticed how you start checking your smartphone notifications during the lecture instead of listening to the instructor.
It has been proven by cognitive scientists that we are losing our concentration because of the excessive use of technology. However, board games can help you get it back. If you are a newbie in playing chess or Scrabble, you may lose attention at first. However, if you keep playing these games quite regularly, your attention spans will grow.
So the more experience of focusing on a game you have, the better you are able to focus on other things, including your studies. For sure, a long attention span can reap many rewards for your college life.
2. Stress reduction
Obviously, we are not able to concentrate on important things if we feel stressed out. Anxiety can completely disrupt our ability to focus and learn. Hence, it’s important to promote calmness if you want to be a diligent student. Luckily, board games can help you with that.
According to the recent study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, players had decreased gray matter in the amygdala, which is a part of the brain associated with distressing emotions. So when it’s not activated, anxiety levels go down and we experience calmness. Also, scientists noticed increased gray matter in the nucleus accumbens, which is the brain area that promotes a peaceful state of mind and satisfaction.
This way, board games can evoke positive experiences and reduce stress, which is essential for great concentration on study materials.
3. Memory boost
To keep your attention on complex concepts for an extended period of time, one must have a good memory. It’s impossible to move on with focused learning if you forget what you’ve just read or what the teacher said a few minutes ago.
When I was a student, I couldn’t keep in mind the names of authors whose books I used to complete home assignments. That’s why I often turned to the annotation writer for my bibliography and asked them to create annotations for me. Anyway, since then, my memory has largely improved and so has my ability to concentrate. I believe it’s happened because I started exercising my brainpower with the help of board games.
A study published in Frontier Human Neuroscience magazine reported the results of an experiment conducted among people who played a strategic board game for one hour over a period of a month. It turned out that their so-called “prospective memory” was significantly enhanced by this activity.
4. Psychological well-being
Mental health problems are another barrier to effective concentration. If you struggle with any sort of mental issues, you must know that it’s almost impossible to stay focused. However, board games can be extremely helpful for psychological well-being. As mentioned above, they positively affect the brain in both structural and functional aspects. In fact, playing board games can act as a meditation session.
Additionally, the research evidence shows that board games promote metacognition, which is basically thinking about thinking. If you can explain why you’ve made certain decisions during the game, your metacognition skills grow. Also, you can develop your mental acuity with the help of board games, which is another important element needed for proper concentration.
As you see, board games can be quite beneficial for students. They promote concentration by increasing attention span, reducing stress levels, boosting memory, and enhancing psychological well-being. However, as with any activity, you must strike balance when playing board games. Don’t spend too much time on it and never play at the expense of your studies. Remember that no matter how beneficial board games are, education is your top priority until you get a degree.
Brandon Kryeger is a study coach and researcher. Brandon explores how different learning approaches affect student success in college. Brandon is constantly searching for new ways of improving student academic performance and applies his scientific discoveries in his coaching job.