In my work as a child clinical psychologist I listen to the concerns and observations of parents of children with ADHD. Many of them have misgivings about the connection between ADHD and video games, their children’s use of technology, but at the same time observe how happy, engaged, and content they are while using technology.
Here are some of the most common pieces of information I share with parents who have concerns about ADHD and video games:
Kids with ADHD can learn from video games. There are now dozens of studies that describe how video games can improve certain executive thinking skills — including attention — and academic learning.
- Children, and particularly those with ADHD, need to exercise and be outdoors much more than they should be playing video games. Recent studies have demonstrated how powerful vigorous physical exercise is in improving learning and attention.
Many kids with ADHD learn better from technology than they do in a traditional classroom. Some studies suggest greater improvements in reading and math when these skills are exercised through video games as opposed to traditional methods of teaching.
Video games can improve social skills in children with ADHD. Video games are no longer the mostly-single player games of the 1980s and 90s. The majority of game play now involves other players — playing with or against them, locally or online, and, increasingly, spectating.
Most kids with ADHD love playing with video games and technology. I don’t know of any peer-reviewed research to support this contention, but I can report my clinical observations over the past 20 years. Undoubtedly, kids with ADHD are drawn to certain aspects of video game play that engage their executive functions.
To learn more about the impact of video games on children with ADHD, check out this PowerPoint presentation.