Do you remember way back when you were a kid if your parents who just didn’t understand why you had problems concentrating on homework or doing challenging time-management related tasks, but could literally sit in front of the TV for hours on end playing video games. Even as an adult, many with ADD/ADHD can play video games without having to worry about their attention wandering. This kind of behavior makes many people think, “Are video games “good” or “bad” for those who have ADD/ADHD?”
Over there years, there have been many people (especially parents) who actually BLAME video games for ADD/ADHD. Frankly, that kind of leap of “logic” makes me uncomfortable. There is absolutely no evidence that video games can cause ADD/ADHD. These conditions aren’t things that just happen to you. It isn’t something that can be afflicted on you, like a common cold. ADD/ADHD is the way someone’s brain is wired. Yes, video games can affect the way people think, but they cannot cause ADD/ADHD.
The main reason why video games can so effectively hold the attention of those with ADD/ADHD is because there is always something happening on the screen. There is no time to think. The second their mind starts to wander, there is suddenly another enemy or obstacle on screen that demands their attention. Action oriented video games aren’t one long, sustained activity. They are a number of very short, quick, sequential activities, each one recapturing the brain’s attention.
Of course, bundling all video games together would be a mistake. Just like with movies, books, and any other kind of entertainment, there are many different kinds of video games. There are the popular first-person shooters, which are extremely popular with many people who have ADD/ADHD due to their non-stop action. There are puzzle games, like Picross or the ever-popular Tetris, which can occupy the mind and focus it onto the puzzle until it is solved. And there are role-playing games, like Final Fantasy, or adventure games like Monkey Island. These types of games tend to be much more laid back and relaxed, with a focus on story rather than fast reactions and explosions, which can make them difficult for someone with ADD/ADHD to focus on.
Some experts have suggested that video games, in moderation, can actually be helpful for those with ADD/ADHD. Concentrating on video games, even if it is easier than concentrating on homework or other task, still requires effort. This can help anyone with ADD/ADHD learn HOW to focus and maintain that level of concentration over time.
Regardless of if you have ADD/ADHD or not, you should always make sure you put a limit on the amount of time you spend in front of a screen. Video games can be addictive, as they are entirely based on a reward system. It can be very easy to slip into the world of a video game, a world where many of the stresses and problems that weigh on people with ADD/ADHD simply don’t exist. Before you start playing, set an alarm on your phone to alert you after an hour has passed. It’s very important that you keep conscious of time while you play, and alarms can be an effective way of doing so. That said, unless you are genuinely seeing a problem, you shouldn’t unnecessarily stress yourself out. Playing video games is just something that we do and have since the 1970s. Yes, the games are far more sophisticated, but the essentials are the same. They are fun!
I have to be honest, video games can be tricky. I’ve seen good come out of them and bad. It really depends on how the ADD/ADHD presents itself and how the video game affects the person. That said, there are far more effective ways to manage your ADD/ADHD, in a way that will allow you to better live your life away from the screen. As an experienced ADD/ADHD coach, I can help you learn these strategies. Please feel free to contact me today to learn more about how we can help you improve your concentration, time management skills, and take back control of your life!