Do Video Games Cause ADHD?
My seven-year-old son loves playing video games. He doesn't seem to have problems with hyperactivity or focus, but I'm worried about the possibility that all those hours playing video games might cause him to develop ADHD. Do video games cause ADHD?
Some studies have found that children who spend a lot of time playing video games or watching television are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. However, there is no evidence that video games or watching television causes ADHD. It may be that children with this condition are more difficult to manage and have fewer social interactions with friends and so end up playing video games or watching TV more than other children.
Though they may not cause ADHD, video games and television may worsen problems associated with the condition. These activities decrease the amount of time children spend socializing and playing with others. Interacting with other people helps develop skills that are often lacking in those with ADHD.
Also, time spent watching television or playing video games often cuts down on the amount of time spent in physical activity. Increased physical activity can improve attention and thinking children with and without ADHD.
Children with ADHD often have trouble paying attention, but sometimes they can also "hyperfocus" and a video game (or television or a book) holds their attention so strongly it seems they can't be distracted. This makes it harder for the child to leave the game and focus on other activities like homework.
Evidence for the influence of television and video games on children is mixed and controversial. Other factors, such as personality traits, family environment, and stress, play a role in the development of attention or behavior problems. Experts advise limiting television and video games and encouraging children to be physically active and to interact with others.