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September 9, 2011 at 12:22 PMComments: 3 Faves: 0

The ADD/ADHD Debate

By E.M. Wollof from SLN More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Game for Gain Blog Series

The debate over video games affect on ADD/ADHD has raged since the advent of personal game consoles. With so much time spent in front of a screen, it is hard to argue that video games have an addicting quality to them. Many parents struggle to deal with this addiction, trying hard to moderate their child's gameplay, just like their friends and doctors told them too. There are a few things I would like to address on both sides of this debate and hopefully shed some light on a solution for all you struggling mentors out there.

The Positives

Neurofeedback is a therapy that has been used to treat ADD/ADHD for a little more than a decade now. With the rise of console gaming, neurofeedback has taken a large jump as a reputable treatment for the disorder. There are now companies that develop take home kits for parents to monitor and treat their child's ADD/ADHD with their video game console. These kits are made to keep the correct type of focus while playing the game, meaning that if the player begins to lose focus, or "zone out," the controller simply stops reacting to the commands of the player, causing the player to have to remain at peak focus in order to achieve peak performance.

Video games also provide a sense of belonging and achievement to those afflicted with a disorder that sometimes excludes them from those feelings. Sitting in school and continually being judged based upon your disorder can be extremely  damaging to a developing psyche. Video games offer a sense of victory and control to a life that is seemingly chaotic and uncontrollable.

Lastly, the medications used to treat ADD/ADHD can have some serious "dimming" properties. If you have ever experienced a before/after with a child that has been put on Ritalin, you understand what I mean by dim, the child seems to lose a little of who they were.

The Negatives

Many have heard the axiom, "all in moderation," applied to the parenting video game dilemma and I tend to agree with this, but enforcing it can be a completely different experience. Many parents run into the problem that they feel guilty when taking away the game time from their child, they are screamed at that a level is yet to be completed, or they are taking them away from their time with their friends.

There are some extremely simple tools to combat this and enforce your own rules on the video game time. Many parents attempt to enforce a half-hour rule for their children. If the parents had taken the time to actually do some hands on research, they would understand that turning the console on and booting up the game can take up to five minutes already. Two online games with his/her friends and then the time is done. Parents need to take the time to learn the gaming community and its lingo in order to truly begin to relate to their children and enforce any type of moderation.

There are many websites that can begin the parents on the path to video game enlightenment, I will list some below. Another therapy that intelligent parents are trying, is actually participating in the gaming with their children, using an undeniable entertainment monolith to spend new age quality time.

http://www.esrb.org/about/news/downloads/ESRB_PTA_Brochure-web_version.pdf

http://www.commonsensemedia.org/

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Next:Some Semblance of ControlPreviously:Modern Day Therapy

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3 Comments

  • Thanks for posting this! It answers the question I posed in the forum I posted earlier today. A take home kit sounds like a great way to utilize neurofeedback while on a budget and while relating more with your child.

  • I think this is a great idea, but if the games are anything like the ones I've seen used in neurofeedback a few years ago, they could really use some improvement in their quality. I don't want to go too off topic, but there are a lot of people going into the game development field that could be putting their talents to good use with a project like this.

    The games I witnessed had really simple graphics like you'd expect from a Windows 95 game. Imagine if these games were beefed up with modern graphics, and the morale boost that kids would get if they could earn achievements by staying focused... lots of great possibilities.

  • The developers are now using some of the peripheral heavy consoles to enhance their research, Kinect, Move, Wii, etc. This should really step up the level of graphic representation. Many of the researchers are developing tools that actually interact with titles that aren't produced for the purpose, they are just popular. Pretty awesome stuff...

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