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12 Disadvantages And Drawbacks Of Playing Crossword Puzzles

Last Updated on January 7, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

A person is doing a crossword puzzle with word stress

Everyone says that crossword puzzles are good for the brain and boredom too, but what do they say about the possible disadvantages and drawbacks of doing crossword puzzles? If you do not know, that is because the disadvantages are not particularly well known. While I am a lover of crossword puzzles (both quick and cryptic varieties, mind you), I feel it is quite important to know both the advantages and disadvantages of an activity before you get involved in it. 

At first, I found it hard to believe that anyone could even think that crossword puzzles come with disadvantages and drawbacks, but when I got to thinking about it, it became a bit clearer to me. Crossword puzzles, in all their glory and with all of their advantages, come with disadvantages too. Who knew? Certainly not me – until I finally did, that is!

If you are wondering whether crosswords are the right hobby for you, consider these drawbacks first, and then make your decision:

12 disadvantages and drawbacks of playing crossword puzzles:

1. Crosswords can distract you from important tasks and focuses.

Once the crossword puzzle bites, you can expect to be doing them all the time. Trust me, I know this first hand. I find myself getting so caught up in my crossword puzzle that I completely forget that there are other things to do and focus on. Sometimes hours can pass by, and all I have been able to do is focus on my crossword puzzle. If you are the type of person that has a lot to do all the time, crossword puzzles could start to form an unhealthy distraction from productivity and that never-ending to-do list. 

woman distracted with smartphone in the library

2. Not knowing the answer to a clue could lead to frustration.

There have been times when I have spent hours trying to figure out a clue and just been unable to fathom it. This, too, could happen to you. Even pro crossword puzzlers have been stumped a few times in their puzzling careers. The process of puzzling can become so intense that it leads to extreme frustration when a clue can’t be solved. In my experience, the more frustrated I become, the further I get from figuring out the clue, so it is a vicious cycle. 

3. You could become addicted to crossword puzzles.

It did not take long for me to become addicted to crossword puzzles, so I speak from experience when I say that they are quite addictive. Once you get good at solving the clues, the sense of accomplishment can become a highly sought after and enjoyed reward. You might even experience a rush of dopamine or serotonin when you solve clues successfully. If you do not want to become addicted to an activity, crossword puzzles might not be for you. 

4. Some people cheat at crosswords, making it unfair for you.

If you are doing a crossword puzzle for a competition – to win a prize or even for mere recognition in your local newspaper – chances are that you are going to put your best into it and not cheat. Many people will do the crossword puzzle just for the prize, using the internet to find the answers to the clues. This could leave you at an unfair disadvantage, which can lead to frustration, of course. It can be particularly frustrating when someone wins the prize, and you know that he/she has cheated. Over the years, I have learned the value of letting it go. 

5. Incomplete crossword puzzles can lead to frustration and anxiety.

man sitting doing a crossword puzzle looking thoughtfully at a magazine

For me, there is nothing worse than not being able to complete a crossword puzzle. You can sit for hours trying to puzzle it out, but if you cannot come to the right conclusion, there is nothing left but a sense of frustration and anxiety. I have often felt this very frustration and anxiety, and it can really ruin your day. I have found that using crossword clue books and the internet to find answers will help you to expand your knowledge, so should not be completely out of the question.

Of course, I would strongly recommend only using aids to assist you when you are certain that you cannot puzzle it out any longer. Don’t just use it as a quick fix to your puzzle.

6. Doing difficult crosswords does not provide fun for the whole family.

You could use crossword puzzles to bond as a family unit – in fact, many people do. You would, of course, need to choose the easy crossword puzzles for this. However, if your crossword puzzle abilities have improved and you have progressed to more difficult puzzles, it is unlikely that you will be able to share the puzzling experience with all members of the family (as they might just be too hard). Of course, if the whole family is hooked to crossword puzzling, that makes it easier to bond of completing puzzles together.

7. Becoming obsessed with crossword puzzles could lead to antisocial behavior.

On more than one occasion, I have found myself hauling my crossword book out of my handbag and getting to work on a puzzle, even when in company. My addiction/obsession has got to the point where I will do a crossword puzzle anytime and anywhere, even when it could be considered inappropriate or rude. This is not a drawback that affects everyone, but it has certainly affected me. If you don’t want to display antisocial behavior, you might need to be strict with yourself about when you can and cannot do crossword puzzles

8. Googling difficult answers can make you feel like a cheat. 

Apple Macbook Pro displaying the Google search engine
Jeramey Lende /

There have been times when I have had to Google the answers to clues because I quite simply could not figure out the answers. In those moments, even though I was learning something new and expanding my knowledge base, I felt like a cheat. It is not a great feeling and can really leave you feeling low. 

9. Doing crossword puzzles can make you feel smarter than those around you. 

It is not particularly humble to think that you are becoming smarter than those around you, but it is true. The more you work your brain and learn new things, the smarter you become. You learn more, you have more conversation pieces, and your mind becomes enquiring. You might start to feel like you are losing touch with your peers, the more you expand your mind and knowledge base.

10. Unsolved crossword puzzles can lead to a less mindful lifestyle.

When I cannot solve a crossword puzzle, it is on my mind constantly. The longer it stays unsolved, the more I think about it. And this means that when I am working, when I am communicating with my partner, when I am shopping, or when I am socializing, I am actually wondering about the solution to the puzzle. This detracts from the current moment and leads to a distracted mindset, ensuring that I cannot derive the expected or possible value from the situation/current moment. 

11. You just might not have the knowledge to complete crossword puzzles.

When you first start doing crossword puzzles, you might not have the vocabulary or general knowledge to solve all of the clues. Your first few puzzles might be quite hard. You could give up, or you could press on – it is up to you. 

Young man sitting doing a crossword puzzle

12. There is just not enough time for all the crossword puzzles.

If I could do a few crossword puzzles a day, I would. I find myself rushing through work and chores to try to find time for my puzzles, but busy days often mean that I never get around to it. This can leave me feeling somewhat disappointed and depressed. Once the crossword puzzle bug has bitten, it can be hard to satisfy the craving for your next puzzle. 

Are Crossword Puzzles Really That Disadvantageous? 

With these disadvantages and drawbacks in mind, do you feel that crossword puzzles are all that risky to you, or do you think that they are still worth your time? I personally feel that there is no amount of drawbacks that could deter me from enjoying my favorite pastime. Whether or not the drawbacks of doing crosswords are too much for you, is entirely up to you – you decide. 

JC Franco

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.