Wordle And Mental Health

You’ve almost certainly heard of Wordle by now. It is a simple, fun, and time-limited word game that one can play daily, just like a crossword puzzle.

The word of the day changes every 24 hours, and you’re the one who has to figure it out. It’s pretty simple, but it’s also very compelling.

Also Read: Mental Health in the U.S.

A five-letter word is randomly selected in Wordle, and players have to guess it correctly. You will see a green block if you have the right letter in the right place, and a correct letter in the wrong spot shows up yellow, while a letter that does not belong to the word shows grey.

Wordle has taken over the world, especially after the New York Times’ acquisition. The game is super popular as The New York Times says that over 300,000 people play it each day.

While Wordle will eventually become part of the New York Times subscription puzzle service, Wardle, the game creator, has explicitly stated that the game will remain free to play, and you will preserve existing streaks.

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And with its popularity and craze, there’s an ongoing debate about how the wordle game affects mental health and if there are any positive effects of Wordle on mental health or vice versa. 

Wordle is a game that challenges your brain and provides a healthy daily hit of dopamine released by the sense of personal achievement- essential for our mental health.

So let’s dig deeper and talk about Wordle and mental health covering both its up and down sides.

How Wordle Game Affects Mental Health?

words text scrabble blocks
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

It is almost certain that you’ve encountered posts that contain rows of grey, yellow, and green squares in social media apps. Those strange images were posted by Wordle players.

But the game, with its fame and engaging nature, has a severe impact on our mental health. There are not necessarily negative effects of Wordle on mental health; most of its impact is positive and holistic. 

According to Dr Douglas Scharre (a neurologist at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center), a game like Wordle is beneficial for your mental health. It’s an important activity to engage in daily and also a great problem-solving exercise. 

Furthermore, this game prevents the deterioration of mental health with age. A brain that exercises regularly will be healthier to perform at its best.

A game like Wordle could potentially benefit people with mental health problems, as well.

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Positive Effects Of Wordle On Mental Health

As Dr. Douglas Scharre stated, puzzles and games, especially those involving challenges, can stimulate key areas of the brain, including reasoning, language, attention, visual perception, and logic. 

It is a great way to prevent a decline in your cognitive health as you age. 

man in red crew neck sweatshirt photography
Photo by Lovefreund

There are several positive effects of Wordle on mental health; some of these are:

1. Enhanced Brain Development 

Ulrich Mayr, a neuroscience professor at the University of Oregon, stated that the game is suitable for enhancing your brain’s functioning and growth across your life span.

An activity like Wordle is excellent for exercising your brain and keeping it sharp. The game is fun and challenging, and solving it also gives the player a sense of accomplishment.

2. Meaningful Social Relations

Wordle has also connected people and has built a community of players who cherish this sense of belonging. According to Matt Baldwin, an assistant professor in the Psychology department at the Unversity of Florida, Wordle is a profoundly social experience. 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash 

When individuals experience something together, their feelings get amplified as they remember playing with several other people simultaneously.

Moreover, social relationships are linked to positive mental health and thinking, and a lack of them leads to negative thoughts and feelings.

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3. A Pleasing Stress Relief

Wordle is great for stress relief. It provides players with a daily challenge that they can accomplish within a few minutes, which triggers happy hormones that reduce their stress levels.

The game has worked wonders for various people throughout the pandemic. Wordle has provided its players with an engaging activity and a community that brings out a feeling that they are not alone.

In the long run, Wordle helped people cope with social isolation, depression, anxiety, and loneliness.

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For many, Wordle provides a respite from the stress of figuring out how they are supposed to win their daily battles.

We’re motivated to solve Wordle challenges, but when we can’t solve them, we are provided with the answer and that ‘aha!’ moment calms our stressed brain.

Stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, are good for the brain’s short term. They signal to the nervous system that you need to solve a challenge.

When we successfully resolve the challenge, we release dopamine, and when we can share our accomplishments with others, we release oxytocin. Both these hormones calm our nervous system, and we can relax.

4. The Joy of a Daily Word Puzzle

On social media platforms, sharing squares of green and yellow colors, without any context, is what intrigues people more and more.

The game has spawned countless whimsical parodies, including Sweardle and Lewdle. This word game tests the patience and vocabulary of people from all walks of life when many are struggling.

In just five letters, figuring out strategic starting words in Wordle fills the empty spaces of mindless scrolling and gives players something positive and knowledgeable to cherish.

It won’t take up all your time; after all, it’s only one word a day, and that’s what sets the game apart from others. The anticipation for the next word of the day makes people appreciate the game and its joy regularly.

Negative Effects Of Wordle On Mental Health

Wordle also has some negative impacts on our mental health apart from all its benefits. Here are three adverse effects of Wordle on mental health that you need to be careful of:

1. Restlessness

One of the best things about Wordle is that it provides an exclusive puzzle daily, and everyone competes with one another.

The game only has one puzzle per day as its social feature, which can be its drawback as it creates restlessness among the players. 

You can easily figure out the word of the day in a matter of minutes, and then you are supposed to wait the whole day to be able to play the game again.

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2. Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) & Social Media 

After finishing the game, players can post their results to social media, and the interesting part is that only the green, yellow, and grey squares are posted, not the actual letters.

It is an innovative way to show how quickly one has solved the puzzle without spoilers!

However, it can develop the fear of missing out (FOMO) in people who aren’t part of the Wordle community and even for those who take more time to figure out the answers than others.

And this FOMO can sometimes trigger the need to check your social media every two minutes, which is extremely bad for your mental health.

3. Frustration

Well, if you have played Wordle, you must know that a player can see how consistent they have been while solving the puzzle. If you have a winning streak of say 10 days, you’d probable want it to keep growing.

As your streak grows, so does the fear of that streak getting broken. I have seen people on social media getting frustrated to fairly high levels after their winning streak was broken.

Frustration forces you to commit acts that you wouldn’t otherwise engage. Gradually, as your streak grows further, you would start getting more insecure about it. It might lead to severe personal issues like anger, excessive awareness, fear of losing, among others.

Conclusion

Word games can positively impact our mental fitness. They improve our cognitive functioning and are a helpful way to deal with stress and socialize with other people. Games like Wordle can also improve your problem-solving skills.

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