Online games are played by people of all ages and backgrounds: whether you’re having a go at Angry Birds, enjoy playing World of Warcraft or simply like a game of online bingo, they’re all fun pastimes and surprisingly good for you. How so? Well, while ‘bingo and your health’ probably isn’t a phrase you’d ever considered, the fact is that there are lots of health benefits to online gaming. Here are just a handful of ways gaming can aid your mental health…

Gaming can increase your brain’s flexibility
‘Flexibility’ is something we usually associate with our limbs, but did you know that your brain can be ‘flexible’ too? In this context it refers to having a fast level of speed and accuracy when performing particular tasks, and some studies have found that brains become more flexible if games are played regularly enough. Bingo is a great game for improving our brains’ flexibility as it requires us to keep up with the fast-pace of the caller and manage multiple cards at any one time.

Online gaming can make you ‘smarter’ in every day life

Moreover, online video games with strong narratives, characters to control and tasks to complete require players to orientate a figure on the screen, commanding them to jump, crawl and climb from point to point. This means that regular gamers become adept at advanced planning and decision making, and even have better peripheral vision given their constant need to examine what’s happening all over the screen.

Online gaming is thought to have the potential to combat Alzheimer’s

Also, according to the Alzheimer’s Disease Centre, there’s an association between playing online games and a person’s rate of cognition. People who regularly play games (such as crosswords, puzzles and other activities) have a higher volume in areas of the brain that are typically associated with Alzheimer’s (Alzheimer’s shrinks the brain, impairing cognitive function), and they also score higher on cognitive tests too. This suggests that while gaming doesn’t necessarily prevent or reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s, those who play games might be better ‘cushioned’ against its effects.

Online gaming can improve your memory

In addition, Researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at Kings College London have found that online gaming can improve memory and reasoning skills. This is particularly useful for those who struggle with their memory (the elderly, in particular), allowing them to carry out everyday tasks such as shopping, navigating public transport and recalling dates with increased ease and greater success.

Online gaming also facilitates social interaction

Finally, if you thought that online gaming was a solitary activity, think again! Many online games are now played in teams, and even solo-plays are equipped with chat functions and headsets to allow you to talk to the people you meet online. This reduces loneliness, isolation and depression – common problems among the young and elderly alike – which means that online gaming can actually enhance social interaction rather than hinder it. This is great news for overall brain function as depression has been found to impair brain function and causes poor judgement and poor memory.

So, next time you’re playing a game of bingo or doing some online brain training, think about the positive effects on your health… and keep it up!

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