What is the Link Between Video Games and ADHD?

More and more children are today turning towards video games. The popularity of video games has been rising like never before and parents are often found voicing their frustration over how it is impossible to pull their children away from video games. Furthermore, it has been seen that parents are becoming more and more concerned about the impact video games are having on the attention spans of their children. But what is the link between video games and ADHD? Can video games really lead to your child getting Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? Let’s take a look at what the latest research has to say on this topic.

What is the Link Between Video Games and ADHD?

What is the Link Between Video Games and ADHD?

Research from the American Academy of Pediatrics has shown that nearly 8.5% of children in the age range of 8 to 18 years of age are suffering from internet gaming disorder (IGD). IGD includes symptoms such as becoming impulsive, irritable, and withdrawn. Such statistics have made many researchers study the effects of heavy gaming on children developing disorders such as depression and ADHD.

Studies have shown that there is no evidence that links playing video games to causing ADHD. However, it has been observed that children who are playing more video games are likely to develop symptoms of depression or ADHD later on in life.

A study done in 2016 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that children in the United States, aged between 2 to 17 years, have been diagnosed with ADHD.

This means that more than 9% of children in the United States are suffering from ADHD. Among these, 6 out of 10 children have been found to be taking medication for treatment of their ADHD. The same ratio of children has also been found to have been diagnosed with having other types of emotional problems.

Another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in July 2018, showed that teenagers who are using digital devices more than the normal accepted time are twice as likely to develop ADHD symptoms in the future as compared to infrequent users of digital devices. The California-based research team conducted the study with 2,600 participants, all in their teens, and who were going to public schools in Los Angeles. The study was undertaken over a period of two years. It first eliminated the participants who were already diagnosed with ADHD or who were already showing the symptoms of ADHD. The participants were then asked to report on how often and for how long they were using 14 different social media and media platforms, including video games. Ultimately, the study concluded that a valid concern is definitely there on whether the frequent use of digital media technologies is increasing the risk for ADHD in teenagers.

How Much Video Game is Too Much?

It’s not possible to block access to all types of digital media from our children. But how do you determine how much ‘screen’ time is too much? Studies have shown that spending more than 9 hours in a week of gaming is likely to give rise to problems. However, 9 hours a week seems to be too less of a time when compared to how active children are in playing video games these days.

An analysis in 2016 by a professor from the San Diego State University showed that eighth graders in America are spending nothing less than 40 hours in a week gaming.

This means that an average eighth grader is gaming for nearly 6 hours daily.

According to Dr. Kouroush Dini, the author of Video Game Play and Addiction: A Guide for Parents, parents should focus on how well their kids are functioning after gaming, rather than on how much time these kids are spending on video games. He says that a set number of hours does not make a difference if the child stays on top of things and seems to be in good overall health – both physical and mental.

Furthermore, it has also been seen that video gaming serves as a source of esteem and solace for children who are already suffering from ADHD. In this scenario, parents should be wary of restricting their gaming time, as it may cause their ADHD to flare up.

Conclusion

There have been no studies that show that video gaming causes ADHD. However, studies have shown that overindulging in gaming can cause ADHD symptoms to appear later on in life. This is not to say that children should be allowed to play video games unchecked. It may not cause ADHD, but it may cause other types of harm, including harming their developing in other areas. This is why maintaining a healthy time limit for gaming during the week is a good recommendation for parents and children to follow.

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References

Chan, P.A. and Rabinowitz, T., 2006. A cross-sectional analysis of video games and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms in adolescents. Annals of General Psychiatry, 5(1), p.16.

Swing, E.L., Gentile, D.A., Anderson, C.A. and Walsh, D.A., 2010. Television and video game exposure and the development of attention problems. Pediatrics, pp.peds-2009.

Mazurek, M.O. and Engelhardt, C.R., 2013. Video game use in boys with autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, or typical development. Pediatrics, pp.peds-2012.

King, D.L., Haagsma, M.C., Delfabbro, P.H., Gradisar, M. and Griffiths, M.D., 2013. Toward a consensus definition of pathological video-gaming: A systematic review of psychometric assessment tools. Clinical psychology review, 33(3), pp.331-342.

Rehbein, F., Psych, G., Kleimann, M., Mediasci, G. and Mößle, T., 2010. Prevalence and risk factors of video game dependency in adolescence: results of a German nationwide survey. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 13(3), pp.269-277.

Bioulac, S., Arfi, L. and Bouvard, M.P., 2008. Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and video games: A comparative study of hyperactive and control children. European Psychiatry, 23(2), pp.134-141.

Yen, J.Y., Ko, C.H., Yen, C.F., Wu, H.Y. and Yang, M.J., 2007. The comorbid psychiatric symptoms of Internet addiction: attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, social phobia, and hostility. Journal of adolescent health, 41(1), pp.93-98.

Andreassen, C.S., Billieux, J., Griffiths, M.D., Kuss, D.J., Demetrovics, Z., Mazzoni, E. and Pallesen, S., 2016. The relationship between addictive use of social media and video games and symptoms of psychiatric disorders: A large-scale cross-sectional study. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 30(2), p.252.

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