According to several studies, children with an autism spectrum disorder spend about twice as much time playing video games as kids who don’t have a developmental disability.
While video games can be beneficial, when a child with ADHD hyper-focusses on gaming and becomes hooked, too much of a good thing can be a very bad thing. Here’s how to break your child’s gaming habit.
Why do kids enjoy video games?
Any child will tell you that video games are entertaining and exciting. It turns out that they can also be educational and informative. Gaming has been shown to improve eye-hand coordination and promote pleasant social connections. Children with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) with little athletic desire or aptitude can compete in games and challenges and develop friendships with other gamers.
However, because solitary gaming takes time away from sports, studies, and other peer activities for children, an interest can quickly turn into a video game obsession.
According to surveys, children spend an average of 49 minutes per day playing video games. When a child’s video gaming console is in the bedroom, playtime skyrockets to over three hours. If parents rely on handheld devices to keep their children calm during restaurant meals, long car rides, or unstructured weekends, they may unknowingly contribute to the problem.
Here are a few tips on how you can help wean your child off of computer games.
Recognise the appeal of video games for ADHD children
Video games have a specific appeal to children with ADHD. A youngster who is easily distracted in real life may be capable of intense focus, or hyperfocus, while playing. In addition, hyperactivity is not an issue; a child can hold the controllers and stand or pace back and forth in front of the TV while playing.
These games entertain and level the playing field for children who struggle to make friends or lack the abilities to participate in team sports. Emotionally, computer games are safe. When a child strikes out during a baseball game, he is doing it in front of his peers. However, if he makes a mistake while playing a video game, no one else needs to know.
Teachers do not mark video-game mistakes in red ink. Making mistakes, in fact, helps the player develop. He learns the particular action required to move the next time through trial and error. There is a sense of accomplishment in continuously developing and, eventually, winning with no risk of failure or ridicule.
Set limits for video game play
Any parent of a child with ADHD is aware that these children frequently lack the ability to self-regulate. This is especially true when it comes to enjoyable activities that encourage and reward hyperfocus. As a result, parents must be the ones to set and enforce boundaries, especially for children who have become accustomed to excessive video-game use.
First, both parents must agree on a set of ground rules. This is frequently the most difficult process. How long can our child play after school? Is it necessary to complete homework first? Chores? What about on the weekends? Which games are completely prohibited (see “Kid-friendly Content” at the bottom)? Which websites are safe for our child to visit if they wish to play online games? Discuss the rules with your child and explain how they will be enforced.