ADHD and Video Games: Pros and Cons


The pros of video games are
multifaceted. My favorite research
says that people, kids that play video
games are more likely to be able to read
and follow instructions than kids that
do not play video games. So those
complicated instruction manuals that I
kind of cannot get through, kids that
play video games learn how to follow
instructions, follow rules, do things
systematically. The kids that don’t play
video games don’t do as well. Kids who
play video games have an improvement in
visual spatial relations. The idea that
they can navigate things in 3D, which is
super helpful. As a physician, like, it
would have been incredibly helpful to me
in organic chemistry if I could have
actually seen things in a 3D kind of
fashion. So those are the kinds of
positives. The other things are that a
lot of them are very pro-social. If you
play the kinds of video games that you
can connect to your friends, then you can
actually make connections, and have
playdates with your friends via video
games. The other thing is that things
like Minecraft, which I love, allow kids
to play. So one of the things when we
were growing up is that up to a certain
age, latency age, elementary school, you
could play dolls,
you could play Lego. And then at a
certain time in middle school, you put
the Lego away and you put the dolls away,
because it just was no longer cool and
socially acceptable. That’s not the case
anymore. Video games and online games
offer children an opportunity to have
imaginative play, almost into
adulthood, but certainly into middle
school and high school. Because you can
play these role-playing games, you can
play these fantasy games, you can
continually, Minecraft is literally just a next step from Lego, right?
And the role-playing games are really
not that different than playing with
Barbies. So video games offer your
children this place to grow, and be
imaginative, and play. So I can go on and
on about the pros of video games.
I think we talk a lot about the cons and
not always focus on the pros. So in terms
of the cons of video games, they do
stimulate dopamine, which is the hormone
that gets stimulated when you
gamble, when you do drugs, when you have
sex. So, and it’s an addictive kind of
hormone, so that part is real. It can be
hard to turn off video games. Once you
get into them, it’s hard to stop them. And
so they can impair sleep, they can be
overstimulating for certain kids. Kids
with ADHD are at higher risk of
overusing it.
The nature of ADHD makes the
relationship with video games a little
bit more complicated. It doesn’t mean
that kids with ADHD shouldn’t play video
games. What it does mean is that parents
and educators need to be more thoughtful
and vigilant about how to manage video
games with kids with ADHD. If your child
is not going to school, and not sleeping,
and playing 10 hours plus, and is
constantly thinking about their game
when they’re at school, then that’s an
issue that needs to be addressed.
That’s a real issue that I think
we should address. But for most of us,
it’s about trying to look at the pros
and the cons of video games, and use them
in moderation.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. I suspect, that some games awaken that hunter-gatherer (or hobo) in me, RPG games ("Fallout' series, for example, and many new shooters with story-line also have those RPG elements in them, same with Minecraft) – a lot of stuff is laying around, and thus I keep gathering it, often trying to gather everything. Another layer are upgrades for weapons of stuff, which are also collectable in the game. Sure, years later of real time, and thousands of hours into those games, I'm getting rid of this habit. Besides, I started to feel craving for real action, for movement, if not hiking or boat tour, then at least a bike ride.

  2. There are multiple things wrong with the pros section. I don't know of any kids that sit down with a book and read through their complications with a video game. The discussion of being able to "be imaginative" into almost adulthood is wrong in two ways. First, is this really creative play in the majority of video games? That's a strong generalization. Certainly, Minecraft and other sandbox-style games do this. Most, however, are not creative in this manner. Secondly, "almost adulthood" is wrong. I would suggest that they tend to delay adulthood. We're literally watching this happen. We have delayed onset adulthood in the U.S. Are video games a factor in this? Studies suggest they are.

  3. None of the cons have anything to to with me, I have ADHD and I have all of the pros, I literally have no cons

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