What playing Wordle actually does to your brain – as revealed by health experts

By Staff 7 Min Read

From humble beginnings Wordle has quickly become something of an internet sensation for problem-solvers, hundreds of thousands of whom have made the daily challenge part of their regular routine

Wordle took the world by storm after going viral back in 2021.

The web-based word game’s creator, Welsh software engineer Josh Wardle, had originally only shared it with family and friends. But it quickly proved a hit once word spread (sorry couldn’t resist!) and people started sharing it on Twitter, eventually being snapped up by The New York Times in early 2022 for an undisclosed ‘seven-figure sum’ and now today sees the 1,000th Wordle go live.

The premise is simple: each day a new five-letter Wordle is posted, and players get six attempts to guess what it is by entering letters into a grid (the grid tiles change colour to indicate whether or not the letter is in the word, and if it’s in the right place).

Millions of players are still daily devotees to this natty brain-teaser. But is it just addictive entertainment? Or could playing the game daily actually offer some deeper benefits?

Bite-size brain boost

Like other puzzles, Wordle is built around problem-solving so is essentially a mini workout for the brain. Dr Emer MacSweeney, CEO and consultant neuroradiologist at Re:Cognition Health, says: “Keeping the brain and mind active is hugely important for all stages of life, maintaining cognitive function, promoting mental agility and supporting overall wellbeing.”

“There are many cognitive benefits of playing Wordle. Regular play can enhance brain function by stimulating critical thinking, problem-solving skills and memory retention.”

Language and learning

Guessing the words correctly is no doubt a buzz especially if you can do it in fewer than six tries! We might also be expanding our language skills in the process.

“It can also help expand the vocabulary, as new words are encountered and learnt with each session, supporting linguistic growth,” says MacSweeney. “The game also promotes language skills and comprehension, reinforcing spelling and grammar rules.”

Jasper Clow, a B2B editorial specialist and copywriting tutor at Tangerine, added: “There [are] more benefits than just exposing yourself to new words. When you play Wordle, you’re getting your hands on and experimenting with the smaller structures and sounds that form words, learning how they go together, and improving your grasp of the foundations of language. It’s well worth five minutes for something that will make you a better writer, reader, and thinker.”

Improved focus

Many people feel their concentration span has weakened with the rise of modern tech/>technology, endless scrolling and the constant flow of fast information. So even if it’s just sitting down to play for a few minutes a day, MacSweeney says: “Wordle helps improve focus and concentration, as players decipher the word while managing limited attempts”.

Mental health

Dr Sandi Mann, senior psychology lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) believes sequence games like Wordle also have many mental health benefits.

“Like any activity that requires us to focus our attention, Wordle can help us to achieve ‘psychological flow’. This is a state of mind in which we are completely engaged in an activity,” says Mann. “Alongside offering fun and friendly competition with friends and family, focusing our mind on trying to guess the mystery word of the day can give us valuable respite from any troubles or worries that might otherwise be preoccupying our mind.”

“Having moments in our life where we can rest from our worries is crucial. Even if the relief is temporary, the impact it can have on our wellbeing should not be underestimated.” Unlike other apps or online games, Wordle has a limit on the amount of times you can play. With only one word to guess per day, you can’t fall into the trap of spending hours in front of your screen. This means it’s easier to enjoy Wordle in moderation and make the most of its benefits.”

“There is also the benefit of the dopamine hit you receive when you get the answer… and when you beat your friends!”

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