The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

Review of Middle-Eastern restaurant ‘Namak’
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June 19, 2024

The renaissance of board games in a virtual world

Despite+their+childhood+significance%2C+board+games+have+faded+into+the+background+as+occasional+activities.+The+transition+from+physical+to+online+gaming+has+left+board+games+as+fun+memories%2C+but+essentially+obsolete+presently.
Zaynab Ahmed
Despite their childhood significance, board games have faded into the background as occasional activities. The transition from physical to online gaming has left board games as fun memories, but essentially obsolete presently.

A young child moves the bishop piece two spaces diagonally, triumphantly slamming it down on the board. He successfully puts the opposing king in checkmate. Across the table, his grandfather’s eyes crinkle as he laughs. Once again, the grandfather let the boy win.

For many, board games induce a feeling of nostalgia. All around the world, board games resurface childhood memories of carefree fun.

Since teenagers began devoting time to video games during the pandemic, online gameplay has become an everyday activity for many. Despite their childhood significance, board games have faded into the background as occasional activities. The transition from physical to online gaming has left board games as fun memories, but essentially obsolete presently. Despite changes in the reality of gaming, board games should be a normalized activity in everyday lives as healthier alternatives to digital games while still maintaining the same fun.

Today, youth spend less time together and more time staring at screens. In a 2018 study, reported that 44% phone usage while spending quality time together, and 54% admitted they were guilty of the same thing. In a world consumed by technology and indirect communication, board games provide rare face-to-face connections. 

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Sophomore Tino Atev, co-founder of Whitman’s Hobby Games Club, reported that he found valuable relationships from playing board games with others.

“There’s a social aspect,” Atev said. “You have to be in person, at a table, and you have to acknowledge every person at that table. So even if you’re more introverted, you still get to be a part of it.”

The competitive nature of strategy games promotes critical thinking skills in a way unique from more mindless activities. Playing board games helps develop the frontal lobes of the brain, which are responsible for decision-making, organization and planning. Intricate board games require strategic thinking and facilitate problem-solving — vital skills applicable to real life. Board games aren’t just enjoyable; they also help young people develop critical skills for success in the professional sphere.   

Studies have shown that playing board games slows the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), increased time playing board games leads to cognitive benefits such as verbal memory, problem-solving and social literacy. For elderly patients who have expressed symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases, playing board games decreases cognitive decline, which can include confusion and memory loss.

Neurodegenerative diseases are slow, painful and costly. With little treatment available for dementia and Alzheimers, these simple activities can be incredibly valuable to patients mentally and physically. 

Sophomore Cate Dickstein recognizes the importance of thinking critically within her own family.

“It helps [my grandfather’s] brain a lot to be able to still think about strategy and how to beat his grandkids in the best way,” Dickstein said.

Managing a child’s screen time is a priority for many parents, with polls showing that the top three concerns of parents in 2023 were overuse of screen time, social media, and internet safety. Multi-hour screen time has become a standard practice among teenagers, who average seven hours a day. With the widespread use and easy access to the internet, regulating a child’s use of technology has further heightened the difficulties of modern parenthood. Board games provide an inexpensive alternative for families struggling to find collaborative entertainment independent of the virtual world. 

Although the long-term effects may feel distant looking for healthy coping mechanisms can be difficult for many teenagers. Caught amidst the perpetual stress of endless schoolwork and an ever-complex social climate, board games allow youth to escape their worries and enjoy themselves in a fictional world. Using games to replicate the carefree fun of one’s childhood can simplify the stresses of teenage life while having competitive fun in the process.

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