Is ADHD Associated with Excessive Gaming?

Is ADHD Associated with Excessive Gaming?

It can be frustrating: your kid finds it impossible to be seated during class and concentrate on the lesson at school, but they can hyperfocus on video games for long hours. They appear to be persistently inattentive – except when playing video games. And when you tell them to switch off the PS4 and have dinner, they are ready to give you a pushback. This leaves you wondering whether excessive gaming may be distracting them and affecting their attentional abilities or contributing to their ADHD symptoms.

According to research, there is no evidence for this cause-effect relationship between video games and signs of ADHD. Researchers do, however, have several ideas about why games might have strongly drawn some children. They run to the computer the moment they come home and cope with their busy minds by playing games. Gaming environments are usually fast-paced, and visually exciting, thus providing mental stimulation. They allow the child to master a skill on their own, evade reality, and feel better about themselves (check our previous blog post on Gaming Addiction to find out more).

Some kids with ADHD struggle to form relationships. Online games become their go-to replacement for any social activity. They develop stronger personal connections and social interactions with in-game friends because they can help each other out in the common interest they both share: the game. Games provide a simple means to meet people with similar interests so that children can share opinions and experiences with them. The virtual environment serves as a safe space in which children will be able to interact with other children – they will be able to communicate when they wish, without being pressured to respond immediately, nor do they need to be in the same physical space as other children.

Finally, the hallmark symptom of ADHD (in some children) is the ability to hyperfocus. The child becomes so fixated on the game that they may not even hear you calling out their name. Children can enter a mental flow through games because most actions require intense concentration and reaction time, which they find difficult during other activities. ADHD symptoms make gaming appealing and playing may exacerbate the ADHD symptoms by providing instant gratification. Once you begin winning, it feels like
you’re unstoppable.

Screens are a part of most children’s lives, and always will be. But when screen time is unsupervised and unlimited – it can interfere with exercise, social relationships, eating, and sleeping habits. Those with ADHD may be more prone to developing a gaming addiction as a way to cope better with their symptoms. However, positive results can be achieved if parents work together with their children to address the issue. Want to understand how to address your concerns better? Reach out to our team of skilled professionals who are equipped to guide you and your child through these challenges.

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