Are Video Games Good for Children with ADHD?
It’s Not a Simple Question
Child psychologists and pediatricians are often asked by parents if video games are good for children with ADHD. Some evidence suggests that excessive gaming can increase inattention, and parents often observe behavioral problems when children with ADHD are told to stop game play. While these concerns are quite legitimate, they do not suggest that parents should restrict their children with ADHD from video games and other digital media.
The reality of living in a digital world is that the opportunity to engage with screen-based technologies such as video games, television, the Internet, and cell phones will be necessary for children’s participation in their social, educational, and future vocational worlds. Educators refer to the need for “digital literacy,” which includes the capacity to understand digital information; the ability to access information effectively, evaluating, analyzing and using media; and the skill to apply technology as a core 21st century skill that students will need for college and the jobs of the future. So restricting children with ADHD from age-appropriate technologies is probably not a great idea.
From a social standpoint, it is probably helpful for children with ADHD to have some awareness of popular television shows such as SpongeBob or to know about the latest and most popular video games that kids their age play (or should be allowed to play). The social components of video games, cell phones, and the Internet are a powerful, two-edged sword. Restricting children from age-appropriate technologies may isolate them from communicating in today’s world. However for children with ADHD who may have limited coping skills, such access opens a Pandora’s box to negativity, cyber-bullying, and emotional distress online.
Educationally, video and computer games can be extremely useful tools for learning academic skills such as math and science. On an informal basis, curious kids (and those with ADHD) can learn an incredible amount by going online and pursuing an interest, but can just as easily get distracted, become engaged with inappropriate material, or simply waste their time.
While the question of whether video games are good for children with ADHD is quite complex, there are a few simple guidelines to follow:
1. Set meaningful limits on the amount of time your kids are involved with digital technologies. A rule of thumb for children with ADHD is:
Preschoolers – limited and supervised time only
Elementary school students – one to one and a half hours a day, including television time
Middle school students – one and a half to two hours a day, including television and cell-phone time
High school students – two to two and a half hours a day, with negotiation based upon the use of technology for academic needs
2. Find out why your child with ADHD loves digital media. Talk to him about what he is doing with technology and how it might help him.
3. Model appropriate technology use so that your child with ADHD observes you having a balance of physical, social, educational, and family activities in your life.
4. Always engage in many other types of family activities that do not involve technology such as exercise, hobbies, playing board games, and being outdoors.
5. Set the expectation that technologies be used in a social fashion, rather than in a solitary manner, so that the majority of your child’s gaming is with other children.
6. Educate yourself about how to choose and use popular technologies at websites such as http://learningworksforkids.com/, which can help you identify the best games and apps to improve executive functions for your child with ADHD.
This post was authored by Randy Kulman, Ph.D. who is the President, LearningWorks for Kids. This post was published in honor of ADHD awareness month.
Founder and President: Dr. Randy Kulman, Ph.D
Dr. Kulman is the founder and president of Learningworks for Kids. He coordinates our team of psychologists, educators, and digital designers in our quest to make video games good for kids. As a licensed clinical child psychologist, Dr. Kulman has been working directly with kids and families for the past 30 years, and has become a leading expert on the use of digital technologies for improving thinking skills in children.
One of Dr. Kulman’s most important roles is to lead our team of psychologists and educators in our ongoing research into game-based learning, the use of digital technologies in helping children with attentional and learning problems, and using videogames for teaching problem solving skills in schools.
Dr. Kulman became interested in the use of videogames for teaching thinking skills through his clinical work with children and families. After listening to hundreds of children and parents reporting how engaged kids were in their video game experiences, he began researching methods by which videogames could be helpful to children, and from there developed the framework for Learningworks for Kids.
What we love…
18 excellent educational games, high quality graphics and animations
What we’d love to see…
Indicator for earning stamps, skill settings, ability to choose song in Music Match, some type of reward for completing the stamp collection
An excellent high-quality educational app for pre-school and early elementary aged children worth far more than its cost.
Bugs and Buttons 2 by Little Bit Studio LLC, is an outstanding sequel to the award winning original Bugs and Buttons. Like its predecessor, Bugs and Buttons 2 has 18 educational, fun-filled games with beautiful graphics and life-like animations covering various skills such as counting, alphabetical order, sorting, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, shape recognition, music theory, matching, and finding differences.
My 6 year old tester loved all the games including RC Racing, Bubble Float and Flashlight Find, but her absolute favorite (as well as mine) is Music Match. In Music Match, children must remember and play a sequence of notes on piano in the order they were presented. The great thing about this game is that the notes aren’t random but are the notes for children’s songs. Playing this game will not only teach children how to play songs on the piano but also teach them what note corresponds to which keys on the keyboard.
Along with playing games, children will also enjoy collecting stamps. There are two kinds of stamps to collect: insect stamps and country stamps. Insect stamps are earned when specific points are met or earned in the game. There are two insects stamps available collect per game. Country stamps are acquired when children find Morty, a cute and friendly beetle, hiding in the games. In order to keep track of where (which game) stamps have been collected from, stickers are displayed in the title headings of each game. An ant sticker is displayed when an insect stamp is earned and a star with the letter M is displayed when Morty has been found. At the moment, there is a bug in the game that prevents all 18 country (Morty) stamps to be displayed and counted correctly on the stamp book. It only shows 17 even if all 18 stamps have been collected. I contacted the developers about this who responded to me very quickly and assured me that it will be fixed on the next update.
There are several things I would like to see on future updates. First, there is currently no way of knowing exactly when points have been met to earn stamps. It would be great to either have this information for the parents in the parent page or have some sort of indicator that shows how many more points are needed to earn a stamp. Second, I would like to have skill settings. I have noticed that some games require a higher number of points for stamps than others. Younger children may not have the attention span long enough for them to earn a stamp. It would be great if parents could either select or set the number of points required to earn a stamp. Third, I would like to be able to choose the song in Music Match. At this time, a random song comes up each time the game is played. I would like for my child to keep playing the same song until she has completed it. I would also like to have the songs available on free play, but instead of having them match notes the keys would simply light up for them to follow along. Finally, I would like to see some kind of animation played or special reward given for completing the stamp collection.
Little Bit Studio LLC has undoubtedly made another award winner. Bugs and Buttons 2 is an excellent high-quality app whose value far exceeds its cost. I recommend this without reservations to those with pre-schoolers and early elementary aged children. It is hands down one of the best apps out there.
Bugs and Buttons 2
by Little Bit Studio, LLC.
Price: $2.99 USD
Bugs and Buttons is back with twice the fun! Bugs and Buttons 2 has 18 more games designed to entertain, teach and inspire. Beautiful, life-like 3D illustrations bring scurrying, fluttering and slithering.
If you would like to win a promo code for this app, please enter via the widget below. Winners will be emailed and must contact The iMums within 48 hours to claim their prize. This giveaway is open to everyone, worldwide, and an iTunes account is required to claim the prize. Please ensure you have read and understand our Terms & Conditions. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
What we love…
Great story, fantastic job of explaining what being in the spectrum is like, customizable, highly interactive.
What we’d love to see…
Female narration when a female character is chosen, custom narration for speech bubbles.
An excellent book for everyone that promotes awareness of autism and Asperger’s Syndrome , encourages acceptance and understanding, and talks about tools that those in the spectrum can use to manage their day.
Geek Club Books, a company that specializes in products that promotes self-acceptance in children who are deemed different because they are in the autism spectrum, has done a remarkable job with their new book The Mighty League Volume 1: The Terrible Taunting. It is the first book in what will likely be a series of books based on the actual experiences of a boy who grew up with Asperger’s Syndrome. It is highly interactive and is presented in a comic book format.
There are many things noticeable in this book. The first thing you will notice, upon opening the app, is that it is customizable. You can choose whether you want the main character to be a hero (Jman) or a heroine (Jaycee). You can also record the narration using your own voice. Second, you will notice that it comes with a lively, upbeat music that goes amazingly well with the story. Third, you will notice that it beautifully illustrated. Finally, you will notice that every page in this book is filled with interactive items and interactive speech bubbles. Clicking on the main character’s hedgehog sidekick will bring up a notebook or journal that explains more about what having Asperger’s is like.
As a mom of a boy with autism, this book is very dear to my heart. I think the best thing about it is that it is based on the real life adventures of Jonathan Murphy who grew up with Asperger’s Syndrome. The story is written by Jonathan’s sister Molly and is narrated by Jonathan himself! Some of the things the character goes through are similar to what my son goes through and I love that he can relate to it. It also gives us ideas on how to help him manage his day and how to handle difficult situations like stopping the school bully. This was good to read not only with my son but with my other children as well. My children already love their brother just the way he is, but this book gave them an even better understanding of what things are like for him.
There are only a few things I would like to see in the future. Since the narration is done in the first person, I would like to see it narrated by a female when a female character is chosen. I also think it might be fun for the kids to be able to record their own voice for the speech bubbles. Lastly, I was a tad uncomfortable with the mom in the story never facing the main character. Her back was always turned even when addressing him. She was the only character whose face we did not see.
Overall, I think this book is great and I highly recommend it to everyone. It promotes autism awareness , encourages acceptance and understanding, and talks about tools that those in the spectrum can use to manage their day. Be sure to also check out the Geek Club Books website. It is a full of resources and information on autism and spectrum disorders and is packed with lots and lots of love!
The Mighty League Vol 1 – The Terrible Taunting – A Blackfish Children’s Book – Customizabooks LLC
Requirements: Compatible with
Size: 0 MB
What we love…
colorful and can be suited to your child’s particular needs; weighted with non toxic pellets making it a safe choice
Once your child outgrows their custom weighted blanket, if it is still in good condition you can “trade it in” for a credit toward the next appropriate blanket size for your child which ensures that your child will have the right blanket size for them.
Earlier this year, after struggling with many sleepless nights with my then four year old son I knew there had to be a better solution rather than piling blankets on him at night to help him feel secure and snug in his bed. He had started asking for multiple blankets when he was about 2 1/2 or 3 and every time he grew, the pile on top of him grew even bigger. I had learned about DreamCatcher Weighted Blankets which are custom-made weighted blankets for children and adults who crave deep pressure both for sensory needs as well as help with sleeping. The company was founded by the Jackson family after they discovered how much it helped their son Cody to have a weighted blanket. You can learn more about the company and it’s founding in an interview here. iMum Mary also reviewed a weighted blanket from DreamCatcher for her daughter N which you can read here.
When I first started researching weighted blankets, I was startled at the differences in the way that they were made. For example, there are some weighted with smooth river rocks, others with polly pellets, others with rice, sand or even dried beans to name a few. When I considered that the blanket would have to be washed, I quickly decided that river rocks would not be a good choice. Not only could they potentially damage my washing machine and dryer, but I imagined that the agitation of the machine may cause the rocks to break up and potentially hurt my son. DreamCatcher uses a filling called Poly-Pro pellets which are hypoallergenic (very important for a child with skin allergies), non-toxic and non-porus (meaning they can’t absorb anything from being washed). The custom made blankets are quilted and the pellets are spread over the entire blanket rather than being concentrated in one area. For me, this was another plus meaning that we could “flip” or rotate the blanket on my son’s bed while at the same time ensuring he would get the same consistent pressure.
The blanket is measured to cover the top of the bed – and not hang down over the sides. My son got a full size custom Mickey Mouse blanket with Minke Fleece on the opposite side. The day that the blanket came and I washed it and put it on his bed he was very excited to be going to sleep – I was hopeful that the blanket would help all of us get better sleep in the house. The first night it worked and we have noticed that on nights he does not use it, that he typically does not sleep as well. We have had the blanket for about four months now and have washed it several times and each time it comes out of the wash looking as vibrant as when I put it in. I wash the blanket in warm water and then typically tumble dry it for a just long enough to pull the moisture out of it before hanging it in the house to fully dry. I decided once that I wanted to line dry it – it took days because of all the layers inside the blanket and meant that we didn’t sleep again which proved to me that it was working.
Once your child outgrows their custom weighted blanket, if it is still in good condition you can “trade it in” for a credit toward the next appropriate blanket size for your child which ensures that your child will have the right blanket size for them. The blankets are sold in the United States only, due to shipping costs outside of the US. They are also having a 20% off purchase over $100 that ends today on custom blankets – click here for more details!
Note: A product was received for purposes of this review. No other compensation was provided.