UTAH (ABC4) – We all know and love word game apps, like the ubiquitous Words With Friends and Wordscapes, to name a few. However, we must ask ourselves: are these games really sharpening our brains, or are they just helping us pass the time?

According to experts at Cleveland Clinic, word game apps are a fun, and healthy way to keep your mind keen and quick.

“My idea about those types of word games is if you enjoy them and they’re giving you a challenge, so you can’t do it on autopilot, you really need to think about it, then it’s really serving you a good purpose in terms of supporting your brain health for life,” said Jessica Caldwell, Ph.D., neuropsychologist for Cleveland Clinic.

According to Caldwell, there is no set amount of time you should be playing these games, what matters is how often you play them. Tuning in to one of these apps regularly is what can really benefit your brain health.

However, Caldwell notes that if word game applications aren’t your thing, there are other options, such as reading a book or completing a crossword puzzle. Calwell mentions that you can even exercise your brain by watching a documentary and holding an in-depth conversation about what you learned with a friend thereafter. Basically, anything that offers a learning experience or a cognitive challenge is fair game.

“In order to keep your memory and your thinking sharp, the key is really challenge and learning. Those are the only ways that you’re really actually exercising your brain, you’re growing new neural pathways, you’re supporting the old neural pathways, so the key is you can’t just be busy,” she said.