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Why Board Games are Important

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While it seems that video games are in the headlines all the time and the latest rage, the use of board games has shown a recent growth spurt.

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A recent study showed that there are currently 42,000 board games which have netted over 5 million dollars in 2014. What many parents don’t realize is that there are several health as well as social benefits one receives from playing board games.

Because tons of kids play video games, they are losing out on the social benefits one receives from sitting down with family or friends and playing a board game.

Parents also benefit from playing. For example, one study reported that senior citizens who engaged in at least one board game or puzzle per week were 7% less likely to develop dementia and those who engaged in two or more a week had a 67% decrease in dementia. What astonishing results!

Board games go back as early as 2500 BC, and because they involve social contact as well as use of certain cognitive skills they have many benefits.

As you will see not only are board games an inexpensive, quick way to spend extended family time together, but they are rich in learning and health benefits.

Quality Time

It definitely increases the amount of quality time a family spends together.  Research has shown that kids who have more quality time with their family have higher self-esteem, greater self-confidence, are less likely to take drugs and alcohol, and they get better grades in school.

Strengthens Family Bonds

Sitting down and playing a board game after dinner will lead to some interesting conversations between and among family members.

Just by virtue of playing, the game members of the family are forced to interact with each other and it is through this that siblings as well as parent-child relationships become strengthened.

Cognitive Skills

Playing games teaches young kids several useful skills. Through using their eyes, their visual perception increases and they learn how to recognize different colors.

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In addition they are practicing their numbers and shapes so these become easier to recognize for them. Their letter recognition also increases which leads to better reading skills.

Finally, because they are usually using their hands to move pieces, manage money etc. their hand eye coordination becomes better as does their manual dexterity.

I can remember when we first started playing chutes and ladders and one of the kids who was not too dexterous kept knocking the pieces off before they landed on a chute. This child now crafts and has great manual dexterity.

Learning to Think

If you want to win a board game you need to strategize; whether this is a complex strategy or not doesn’t matter. In order to strategize you need to think both cognitively and logistically.

Of course the more you play a game the better you become at doing this and before you know it this skill spills over into other games and then other area of life.

Other games that require people to work as a team teach kids how to negotiate and interact with people as a team. What an easy way to learn such important skills.

Being a Good Loser

monopoly game

Because most games have only one winner and all the rest are losers your kids will learn how to be good losers. This is an important concept to learn because we don’t always win at life and no one likes bad losers.

Kids who are 3, 4 and 5 have a hard time with losing and the concept of fair play, so it is ok to help them. About the age of six, however, they start to understand the concept of fair play and you may want to start helping them follow the rules a little more.

Health Benefits

As alluded to in the introduction there are several health benefits to be had by playing board games.

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Alzheimer’s/Dementia

Those who play one game a week show a decrease prevalence and those playing more than one show an even greater decrease in prevalence.

Lowers Blood Pressure

When you choose a game that makes you laugh and giggle your body releases endorphins which relax your muscles relax and your blood to circulate which results in lower blood pressure.

Immunity

The endorphins that relax you also help you fight off disease

In a recent study done on why people play board games, it was found that 64% said they played to unwind and relax, 53% said to relieve stress, 42% to keep their mind sharp and 75% said they played for the educational benefits it afforded their kids.

So if you haven’t yet, go out and get a few board games and set up a family game night; you won’t be sorry you did.

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