To my ADHD friends
I apologize for the length of this post. I am warning you ahead of time that it is over 5,000 words –which is long even for me. As I have done in the past when I wrote extremely long and detailed posts, I have broken this article into sections with titles and italicized important information. If you just read the headings and the italics you should get the gist of the article. I did that just for you. Because I love you.
For the last few decades as the internet has become more a part of our lives, articles and news reports of the evils and dangers of media and video games have grown increasingly common. It is not lost on me that the media is hating on media. Unfortunately, often these articles and news reports are fraught with hype and hysteria and in many cases with nearly no source material to back it up. It is a sensational concept and makes great clickbait, but how valid are those claims and assertions?
That is what we are going to discuss in this blog post.
Media likes to sensationalize cultural fears
It is important to mention here that long before the internet was hooked up to every digital device in US homes, newspapers would report the evils of everything from board games to video games to television. Random fact: Scientific American says you’re drawn to watch more or less TV based on your genetics. I remember reading a biography based in the 1700s, and at that time many wealthy young women spent all their time reading (novels were a relatively new concept). These young women had their “heads in the clouds” and were so “lost in their imaginary world” that parents, religious leaders, and political leaders alike warned of the dangers of reading novels! Even as a young person, I remember being scolded for reading too much. And, yes, I once read an article saying board games were bad for you, but I have forgotten the reasons they gave; I think I filed it in my brain under “Asinine Articles” and forgot the details. Here is an article that gives some reasons that board games are bad if you are curious. The game Dungeons and Dragons even created a full-scale panic in the 1980s when it was erroneously associated with the deaths of multiple people. The TV show Forensic Files even attributed the death of a mom and her daughter to Dungeons and Dragons (and, strangely, to mosh pits) rather than simply acknowledging that the criminal was not mentally stable, but that wasn’t the only time the TV show made the ludacris accusation that the game was somehow to blame for a crime. Contributing to the panic over video games was the Columbine High School shooting when “Kids who immersed themselves in games of Dungeons & Dragons, who found solace in Goth music, and who played computer games were lumped together as potential enemies of public safety,” blaming the problem again on games instead of on the choices of mentally unstable people.
Humans fear new things
Everytime there is a new advancement –whether it is the printing press, the locomotive, space travel, or the internet– someone, somewhere will sound the alarm that these new things is evil and dangerous. As a group, we humans can be rather alarmist. There’s always a Chicken Little somewhere close by. When train travel became a thing, it was said that we were never intended go that fast. When airplane travel became common it was said that if we were supposed to fly we would have wings. At one time, even the telephone was considered dangerous. There is always someone in the crowd that resists the change. Apparently, there’s a few millennia of history to back up the idea that adults generally object to whatever is new and cutting-edge and that adults blame the younger generation and have since long before millennials were around. It has been going on for generations.
Let’s focus on facts not fear
Now, being cautious isn’t always a bad thing. Being aware of actual problems is prudent, but we need to be sure our information is based on fact and not internet drivel. Let’s face it, there is a lot of misinformation on the internet –as any parent of an ADHD child knows well. And, even those who say that media, video games, and TV are dangerous rarely actually stop using them. So, do they even really believe what they are preaching? Case in point: how often does someone post about how evil Facebook is while on Facebook?
This topic regularly comes up in my Facebook group for parents homeschooling ADHD children. Are TV, media, and video games dangerous for my child? Will my child become addicted to them by using them?
The answer is that it is complicated, but in most cases, the answer is no.
Media has educational benefits
First of all, it is important to point out the benefits of media. Educational apps, games, and videos have made it possible for visual-tactile learners to get information in a way that works better for their brains. Not all learning styles learn best by reading and lectures. Just because that is how it has always been done doesn’t mean that works best for everyone.
Since approximately 50% of ADHDers have learning disabilities, media can provide excellent resources for struggling children. Text-to-speech is a significant aid for those with dyslexia, for example. My son has dysgraphia and uses speech-to-text frequently. He also does best with online learning or any type of learning which doesn’t require handwriting as this is an area in which he struggles. I cannot imagine how challenging it would be to educate him if we lived 50 or 100 years ago! Newer research shows that game-based math (like online math, for example) work better for all children even those without learning disabilities. Online math programs also help children with learning disabilities by offering a more customized learning experience. Many children with these disorders were simply left behind in times past. In fact, I have an older relative with dyslexia who graduated from high school without knowing how to read or write. He was simply moved along to the next grade level because the school didn’t know what to do with him. Technology has made living with learning disabilities much simpler.
Multi-sensory learning provided by media is more effective
In general, involving all senses in learning is more effective anyway. Here is a study from the University of California which explains the value of multi-sensory education. Dave from Boy in a Band on YouTube also included information about multi-sensory education in his video about alternative school options. Media provides us with a vast array of options for education. Media makes learning far more enjoyable than a book. I mean, would you rather watch a reenacted documentary with decent acting to learn about the history of Rome or slodge through pages and pages in a textbook? Not only is the documentary (especially if it is well made) likely to be more enjoyable than the book, but you are likely to remember more of what you learn. Media has a very real and practical use especially when it comes to education.
Parents may be unnecessarily depriving their struggling learners of a viable learning method because of the false information that has been perpetuated about using media.
ADHD is not caused by watching too much TV (or any other media)
I feel it is important to mention here that —contrary to the myth passed around for decades– ADHD is not caused by watching too much TV. I think this is where part of the “Oh, no, screens are bad for ADHDers” idea came from. It is impossible for television to be the source of ADHD since ADHD was identified, accurately described, and documented in the 1700s by Scottish physician Sir Alexander Crichton (although it has changed names a few times since then). Television wouldn’t be invented for nearly two more centuries which means it is incapable of being the cause. In fact, we know the cause of ADHD. Dr. Russell Barkley, a leading ADHD researcher, mentions in his video series (located at the bottom of this blog post) that ADHD is caused by genetics in nearly all cases and toxins like lead in the remaining cases. Similar information can be seen in this article from NIHM.
Social media and screen time scare is not backed by science
“Frequent social media use and screen time have been portrayed as universally bad for our health. However, a lot of research on this phenomenon has been characterized by poorly done studies and bad science. The vast majority of evidence suggests that our smartphones are not uniformly harmful, and in some cases, they may be a force for good…The vast majority of the large and well-designed statistical studies on smartphones and the brain actually suggest these technologies are having little to no effect on our health and well-being. And in some cases, the availability of social media and phones may be a power for good.” from Erin Brodwin at Business Insider. I encourage you to follow the link and read the whole article. Erin has some great points.
Correlation is not causation
Please, when you are considering this issue, remember that correlation is not causation. Just because two things are happening at the same time doesn’t mean that they are connected or that one caused the other. Here is an entertaining, media-based explanation of correlation versus causation that is likely to help you understand and appreciate the concept better. Remember what I mentioned above that media makes learning more enjoyable and that it helps us retain the information? Just because a child has a bad attitude while playing video games doesn’t mean that the video games caused the bad attitude.
World Health Organization declares video game addiction legitimate
The WHO —the World Health Organization, not the 1970s rock band– recently (as of 2018) declared video game addiction a legitimate medical condition. Last fall, I did extensive research for a post on my Facebook page for ADHD Awareness Month in October and didn’t find anything reliable to support the idea that it was a medical condition. As of writing this blog post, it is still not a recognized condition in the USA. The DSM-5 says that more research needs to be done.
The debate about video game addiction’s legitimacy goes on
In fact, it appears that the many researchers are reluctant to declare it a condition. That is not surprising to me as my research into this issue revealed that there can be many causes for so-called gaming addiction. One concern is that these symptoms could be part of another diagnosis –a different issue than a mere addiction. Another concern is that the research is not based on consistent diagnostic criteria making the results less than reliable.
Professor Mark Griffith says the condition is rare
However, “Professor Mark Griffiths is a Chartered Psychologist and Director of the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University, and he was part of the WHO Working Group that provided input on the decision to add gaming disorder to ICD-11. He says that there is overwhelming evidence for gaming disorder:
‘Hundreds of studies that have shown that a small minority of people, when gaming to excess, have major problems in their life. I’ve published more papers on video game addiction than anybody else in the world. What we’ve got is country after country, study after study basically showing that a small but significant minority of people where gaming is something that completely takes over their lives – and we’re not talking about kids who play 3 or 4 hours a day, that is nothing to do with gaming disorder. We’re talking about something that completely compromises that person’s life. It’s something where people have withdrawal symptoms if they can’t engage in the behaviour, they’ve built up tolerance over time, needing more and more gaming to get those same mood-modifying effects. They are people that use the behaviour basically as a way of self-medicating: they use it either to get buzzed-up highs, aroused, excited, or they use it for the exact opposite, to tranquilise, to escape, to numb, to destress.’”
According to Mark Griffiths, only 1% to 4% of the gaming population are even at risk for gaming addiction —and far fewer than that actually have it.
In order for it to be a legitimate gaming addiction, it must meet some pretty strict criteria. Most children —even most ADHD children– will not meet these criteria. I know a lot of people who love video games, but I have yet to meet anyone who actually has bonafide withdrawals from not playing video games as Griffith describes in the quote above. I have played games on and off for decades. I can go for months or years without playing a game with no problem.
The WHO’s definition of video gaming addiction
The WHO defines the symptoms of gaming addiction thus:“1) impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context); 2) increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and 3) continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences. The behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning. The pattern of gaming behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The gaming behaviour and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.”
Gaming addiction is different than playing video games a lot
Professor Mark Griffiths “is keen to point out that gaming addiction is by no means the same as just playing games a lot. ‘It’s nothing to do with the amount of time you do something, it’s to do with the negative knock-on effects on that person’s life. I’ve published one case study where a guy was playing over ten hours a day but clearly wasn’t addicted.’” “‘I’m in no way anti-gaming,’ he cautions. ‘I do it, my kids do it. It’s a bit like drinking alcohol: there is no evidence that doing any of these things moderately has any negative effects whatsoever,’ adding that gaming can have great therapeutic benefits.”
“Griffiths has been dismayed by coverage of ‘gaming addiction’ in the mainstream media that is clearly not addiction at all. He points out that if there were reports of children watching TV for three hours a night, no one would care, but that playing games is seen as morally reprehensible, a waste of time. ‘My son is playing two or three hours of Fortnite a day at the moment,’ he notes. ‘It’s just something that’s life enhancing, life affirming, has no effect on his education, the chores around the house or his interaction with his friends, but the media have taken what is essentially a normal behaviour, and it’s been pathologized. This is nothing to do with gaming disorder whatsoever.'”
“‘I’ve commented on story after story about people who are so-called “addicted” to Candy Crush, and it’s just people who are playing it far too much. That’s not an addiction, that’s not gaming disorder. When we’re talking about gaming disorder, we’re talking about an activity that clinically impairs somebody’s life to such an extent that they have to seek treatment for it, and the number of people who do that in this country are few and far between.’”
The WHO’s diagnostic criteria is still subject to change
“The current version of ICD-11 won’t be endorsed by the WHO members until a meeting in May 2019, and there is still a chance it might be amended before then. After that, national governments could still take years to formally adopt ICD-11, and they may well add their own amendments.”
Issues with the WHO’s diagnostic criteria
My problems with the WHO’s criteria and description of gaming addiction is that it looks an awful lot like ADHD hyperfocus or even autistic special interests. I wouldn’t have as much of an issue if the criteria specified that the condition should only be diagnosed if there wasn’t another condition that explained the symptoms (perhaps that is assumed?).
What if I was obsessed with painting? All I wanted to do was paint, and I ignored everything else in my life to paint. It started affecting my family, my school, my work because I was completely obsessed with painting. Is that an addiction? Or is it a passion? If I was a gifted painter, no one would think twice about me acting like this. Under the WHO’s approach, the Absent Minded Professor would have been diagnosed with addiction to science. Are we now going to put those with ADHD, autism or those who are gifted through a 12-step program because symptoms of their known conditions are being misdiagnosed as an addiction? I think this is a slippery slope and that the criteria for addiction need to be better defined.
Our culture views video games as evil
Also, what a way to spin a great thing and make it seem horrible. As an ADHD person, I find it outrageous and repugnant that my hyperfocus would be misconstrued as an addiction. But in our culture, it is generally considered okay to be obsessed with painting or anything that produces a tangible result –but not okay to be obsessed with anything on a screen. Remember: screens are evil, right? That was established as a cultural belief decades ago, but I have yet to see any science that says screens are actually evil.
Screens are not evil. They are amoral… neither right or wrong. What we do with them makes them right or wrong just like I can use a bat to play baseball or I can beat someone to death with it. It is not the bat’s fault that I used it for evil. The bat itself is not responsible for the evil that was done with it. That bat is not inherently evil. It didn’t cause the evil. The responsibility belongs to the human behind the bat –or in the case of video games the human in front of the screen.
Hyperfocus is my superpower (Can I trade it for flight? Or invisibility?)
In fact, this article you are reading is actually brought to you by ADHD hyperfocus. I heard about the WHO’s decision about 10am this morning, and it is almost midnight now. I spent nearly all day reading and working on this article because my brain is completely captivated by the topic (by the time I finished the post it was 3 days later). This is not a bad thing. I consider hyperfocus to be my superpower. I am thrilled that my brain works this way and refuse to let anyone say that it is okay to try to make ADHD people feel ashamed of their hyperfocus.
Video game panic leads to bad conclusions
Calling this issue an addiction makes it simple. “Video games equal bad, so we get rid of video games” is a simple answer. We humans like simple answers. But, we aren’t simple creatures. The general objection to video games in the culture and media has created what some refer to as “the moral panic over video games.” Mark Coulson, Associate Professor in Psychology at Middlesex University, London, says that the “presence of a current moral panic regarding video games may cause the medical community to take ill-considered steps, despite ambiguous research evidence, that do more harm than good to the global community of video gamers through the pathologizing of normal behavior.”
I wrote another post about my family being judged for our hobbies because we like watching movies and playing video games which are considered by many to be inferior hobbies. Reading is currently considered a “good” hobby, for example.
Alternate explanations for the symptoms of gaming addiction
So, how can you tell if your child’s behavior is normal? And, if it is not normal, what else could be going on?
From my research last year and the opinions of those who objected to the WHO’s decision, it seems that other conditions, diagnosed or undiagnosed, could be causing this behavior that is considered an addiction. Without a proper diagnosis, these children will not get the help they need and could be unnecessarily deprived of their phones, gaming devices, and online educational resources.
Sending your ADHD child to Alcoholics Anonymous?
There currently isn’t really a standard treatment plan for gaming addiction. The treatments I have seen recommended are similar to a 12-step plan –and in some cases, children are actually attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings because there’s no support available yet for gaming addiction. As of when I’m writing this, I know of a family whose child is going to AA for gaming addiction. The problem with sending an ADHD child to AA is this: ADHD is a regulation disorder, and AA is based on your ability to self-regulate. AA is self-willed and self-driven, but what if, by the very nature of your neurological condition you are not strong in the area of self-control? It is widely known that ADHDers struggle in this area of regulation. In his video series, Dr. Russell Barkley discusses that this regulation struggle can take many forms: physical (like hyperactivity), emotional (like outbursts), or mental (like hyperfocus). I’m not sure that a 12-step program is the best way to help an ADHD child regulate themselves better –especially when we have proven scientific, medical methods to do it.
What if gaming addiction is really part of a different disorder?
Many problems in an ADHDers life are caused by them trying to self-treat. Gaming is no different. Even the advocates of gaming addiction say that what they are calling gaming addiction is a person’s effort to self-medicate. Self-medicate for what? Why are we not diagnosing the condition that is causing the lack of control over gaming? Even the doctors and researchers who objected to the WHO’s inclusion of gaming addiction as a disorder agree that some people have problems with gaming. “Their argument was simply that these problems should not be attributed to a new disorder.” What if this behavior was just part of the ADHD person’s failure to regulate well? Failure to regulate well has to do with low neurotransmitters as a result of ADHD, namely low dopamine. “…nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, opiates, risky sex, pornography, gambling, physical risk-taking, reckless driving, and compulsive buying increase dopamine even more.” Almost all risky behavior that ADHDers participate in is an effort to increase their neurotransmitters.
Video games increase ADHDers low dopamine
ADHD “…due to the typical symptoms of motor restlessness, poor concentration, and distractibility, it is thought at least in part to be caused by problems with dopamine levels or the efficiency of dopamine receptors in the brain.”
“…One of the trademarks of ADHD is low levels of neurotransmitter dopamine –a chemical released by nerve cells into the brain. People with ADHD are ‘chemically wired’ to sneak dopamine, says John Ratey, M.D., professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in Boston.” (See image 2 at this link)
We also know that video games increase dopamine.
But, is trying to fill up your low neurotransmitters the same as an addiction? If you know the child has a disorder that includes low dopamine and other low neurotransmitters, and, as Dr. Russell Barkley says, ADHD medication increases those low neurotransmitters, is addiction really an accurate diagnosis? Or is the child not medicated when he needs medication? Or not properly medicated if he is medicated? Perhaps there are other activities that the child can do which will up his dopamine such as one of the activities listed here. According to Dr. Barkley, exercise is the most effective treatment for ADHD after medication. According to WebMD in this article explaining the benefits of exercise for those with ADHD, “When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals called neurotransmitters, including dopamine, which help with attention and clear thinking. People with ADHD often have less dopamine than usual in their brain.” Here is research about the effectiveness of ADHD and exercise in adults and children.
Properly medicating ADHDers reduces addiction problems
Another myth that is passed around the internet is that all ADHDers are addicts. I have been told that all ADHDers will get addicted to something because they just cannot help it. I have been told that we ADHDers are even addicted to our own medications and that those medications cause addiction, even though research doesn’t back that up.
The truth is that, when ADHDers are properly medicated, studies show that they are less likely to develop addictions. Addictions in the ADHDer is nearly always an attempt to self-medicate. If the person is well-medicated –meaning the medication is doing it job– then they will not look for ways to self-medicate. “Stimulant treatment of ADHD appears to result in reduced alcohol and drug problems, not increased substance abuse.”
My mental health nurse practitioner told me that her patients who are ADHDers and former drug addicts will not return to drugs if she can get them properly medicated for their ADHD. Why would they? Illegal drugs destroy their lives and are a poor substitute for being properly medicated. Overall, addictive behavior is reduced by proper ADHD medication. You can see more about ADHD medication and abuse rates if the patient has a history of drug abuse here.
What if the medication doesn’t work?
However, a for a small percent of ADHDers, medication doesn’t work. In his video series, Dr. Russell Barkley says that medication doesn’t work for about 10% of patients. CHADD says that medication works for about 80% of patients leaving 20% it doesn’t work for. When the medication doesn’t work it could be the wrong medication, the wrong dose, or even the wrong diagnosis. I am not a mental health professional (or a medical professional, for that matter), but I have worked with adults and children who have ADHD since 2012. In my observation (which I admit isn’t research), many times when medication doesn’t work it is because there is an undiagnosed psychiatric condition. According to this research, 50% of ADHD people also have a comorbidity like a mental health disorder. So, if the child is properly medicated and still exhibiting addictive tendencies, maybe there is another condition at play. This is why I recommend a full psychological evaluation, not just ADHD screening, because we cannot treat what we do not know about.
Although, as we mentioned above, the Columbine High Massacre in 1999 was blamed on video games, music, Dungeons and Dragons, and even bullying, further research has shown the true issue: the perpetrator, Eric Harris, had severe psychiatric disorders including “a disturbed personality with prominent antisocial, narcissistic, and sadistic traits.” This is not surprising, because mentally healthy, emotionally stable individuals do not go shoot up a school murdering a bunch of innocent people. A healthy person doesn’t see a movie or video game with a murder and say “Gee, I think I would like to do that” –not even if he was bullied. Lots of kids, including me, are and were bullied. It made me a more kind, more compassionate person –not violent.
What if your child is violent?
If your ADHD child exhibits this kind of violent behavior, this is not part of the ADHD. There is something else going on. Please get your child help! Many hospitals have psychiatric wards that will take in children who are exhibiting violent tendencies. Please, consider those hospitals an option if you need them. Please, seek treatment, and don’t try to handle this yourself.
If you are concerned that your child is going to exhibit these characteristics as a result of exposure to media, then look into the dark triad disorders and sadism and be aware of the symptoms –it is pretty obvious when a child is exhibiting these. Many ADHDers are highly sensitive and suffer from rejection sensitive dysphoria making it unlikely that they would engage in activities to intentionally hurt other people. Many ADHDers are extremely empathetic and the idea of hurting others would be too painful to handle.
I once read an article explaining that children with ODD, bipolar, and conduct disorder can get more violent when exposed to media and video games. These children are already experiencing a social disconnect, the writer explained. Media can increase that disconnect making the child more aggressive when he or she walks away from it. I cannot find the article I read, but here is a study that has some similar findings. If your ADHD child has one of these comorbid conditions (like ODD, BPD, or CD), you need to be aware that screen time could cause increased aggression. But, again, there is an explanation for it, and it is not addiction.
Video games do not cause increased violence
In general, though, video games don’t cause an increase in violence: “…the latest statistics show youth violence at a 40-year low despite the popularity of video games… something that has to be considered, especially with media psychologists insisting that game violence is directly responsible for shooting rampages….”
It could be an emotional regulation problem
ADHD children are 30% behind their peers in their ability to regulate according to Dr Russell Barkley. There’s a nifty chart explaining this concept in this post. Due to this problem with regulation, ADHD children, especially young children, often react with extreme emotions to being taken away from the television. My children were this way with TV and video games –among other things. As a result, we had certain times of the day we watched TV and one day a week when we played video games. Having a schedule made it predictable, and my children knew that at a certain time, the TV or video games would be turned off. It didn’t remove all the drama, but it certainly minimized it. We were able to do away with this as my children got older.
Why do ADHD children react this way? They have big feelings and lack the ability to regulate those feelings due to the underdeveloped parts of their brains. It is not that they are addicted to TV or video games. Every child experiences disappointment when mom turns off the TV or says they cannot play video games anymore. But, an ADHD child may be unable to contain his disappointment due to his poor regulation which results in a meltdown. Many parents –like me back when my kids were young– freak out that their child is addicted to screen time without knowing that the real cause is the ADHD. After we all got diagnosed with ADHD, their reaction to screen time started to make so much more sense.
A friend of mine pointed out that parents often refer to this as “an addiction” for lack of a better way to describe it. A more accurate description would be, “My ADHD child is failing to regulate their emotions regarding media and video games.”
While addiction to games is possible, it is not likely
We should approach this topic informed. We should be aware that the possibility exists that gaming addiction could be a problem, but that it is exceptionally rare. We should not call the symptoms ADHD or other psychiatric conditions “an addiction” when we know there are other explanations.
We can use video games to our advantage
Video games can actually be used to our advantage, too. Dr. Barkley says that video games work in a way that helps the ADHD brain. Gamification can be a wonderful tool in the arsenal of teachers and parents if they can get out of the mindset that screens are evil and understand the way that the ADHD brain works.
Gamification is “the process of integrating game mechanics into a system that already exists to motivate participation, engagement, & loyalty.” Wikipedia defines gamification as “the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems.” It was first used in business to engage employees, but many ADHDers have found it a very helpful method to motivate themselves. There are even benefits to using gamification in learning environments.
I wrote a post about using motivation tactics similar to gamification to help my son completed his chores. Although I received a lot of online hate for giving my child half a dozen mini M&Ms (which is just silly since that is hardly any sugar), it worked really well! I know now that rewarding him with a small piece of chocolate after each task was motivating just like he might receive a small reward for a quest in a video game. This worked so well that after a while he didn’t even need the chocolate anymore. He is now able to complete his chores without it, but at the beginning, it really made a difference in his motivation level.
I haven’t even addressed how useful media and video games can be in helping calm ADHD children with comorbidities like sensory processing disorder, autism or anxiety disorders.
Gamification is a fabulous tool
So, not only is gaming not evil and most likely not the source of the ADHD child’s problems, but it could be a huge answer for many parents who ask how they can motivate their child. Make a game out of it! Every parent knows that children –whether ADHD or not– do better when you can make the tasks fun. That is even more true for ADHD children. Don’t believe me? Listen to Jessica from How to ADHD explain how gamification has helped her.
So back to our original questions: Are TV, media, and video games dangerous for my child? No, they can even be useful tools. Will my child become addicted to them by using them? According to what I have read, probably not, unless they have symptoms not already explained by their developmental disorders or psychiatric conditions. But, due to their ADHD, they may need help regulating themselves. Dr. Barkley calls this scaffolding.
Of the thousands of parents I have worked with over the last six years, more than half of them were incredibly concerned about the effect that media, social media, TV, video games, and even internet-based or computer-based education were having on their ADHD children. It seems important to mention before I end that even those doctors and researchers who support the WHO’s decision to include gaming addiction as a medical diagnosis admit that the condition is exceptionally rare. “Gaming is not being classified as a ‘disorder’ – a disorder is being recognised that affects a tiny fraction of gamers.”
It is unlikely that the gaming addiction condition is as common as the parents who are concerned their children have it.
I hope you found this post helpful. There are many links in the post to follow if you are interested in learning more about this topic and if you want to know where I got my information. Let’s learn the facts and stop hating on video games and media. Instead, let’s use them as a force for good!
And, let’s not give into the uproar created by the media.