Can overplaying video games cause attention problems?
Yes, it’s just how you thought. The more your child or teen sits watching television or playing video games, the more risk they are for learning and attention problems. We’ve written about this before, and not much has changed, except that research is beginning to appear to validate what parents have known for years.
As parents, we must understand that video games can be addictive for our children and adolescents. In fact, others have reported that up to 30% of all men who regularly play video games may be physiologically addicted to games. The more violent the game, the more potentially addictive it can be.
Parents, please understand that your children are growing up in a culture that is very different from the culture in which we grew up. Our kids don’t know anything about Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Vietnam, or even Jimmy Carter.
Our children have far more media and entertainment options than we ever grew up with, and they don’t know that they can live without cell phones, iPods, video games, rental videos, cable TV, and the Internet, because they have never known. a world without them!
Children and adolescents live their lives saturated with media. According to the most recent Kaiser Family Foundation study of children ages 8 to 18:
o Young people spend an average of 6.5 hours a day on entertainment media, which is equivalent to more than 44 hours a week.
o Since young people often multitask with media, they are actually exposed to approximately 8.5 hours of entertainment media every day, or approximately 60 hours a week.
o Television, videos, and music are the dominant entertainment media, averaging 4 hours a day.
o Using the Internet for fun averages about 1 hour per day.
o Play video games an average of 1 hour per day.
o In comparison, reading books, magazines, or newspapers averages only 45 minutes per day. Doing household chores averages 30 minutes per day and homework an average of 50 minutes per day.
Of course, we parents are the ones who have created this media entertainment environment for our children and adolescents to grow up. Our homes have an average of 3.6 CD players, 3.5 televisions, 3.3 radios, 3.9 DVD players, 2.1 video game consoles, and 1.5 computers. In fact, 25% of children grow up in a household with five or more televisions!
There is a new study from Iowa State University, published in Psychophysiology, which reports that young adults (they studied young men between the ages of 18 and 33) who play about 40 hours a week at video games have a harder time maintaining attention. focused in the classroom or similar settings, and that certain brain wave patterns associated with attention were reduced in the video playback group over the control group.
One of the study authors is Dr. Craig Anderson, director of the Iowa State Center for the Study of Violence. Dr. Anderson has studied the effects of various video games on human behavior. He has written a letter to parents that I encourage you to read here: http://www.psychology.iastate.edu/faculty/caa/VG_recommendations.html and the home page of his website is here: http: // www .psychology .iastate.edu / faculty / caa / index.html
Another recent study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine by the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and the New York State Psychiatric Institute research team led by Jeffrey Johnson and Tara Stevens of Texas Tech University.
This study shows that adolescents who spent a lot of time watching television were more likely to have attention and learning problems “that persist and interfere with their long-term educational achievement.” The researchers advise parents to limit the amount of time they let their children watch television (or we would add any entertainment that is similar to watching television, such as playing a video game) to less than two hours per day, adding that they should only watch quality programming.
Specifically, they noted that video games have little educational value and can promote attention problems in children. We are concerned about other studies showing that violent video games, which can cause the release of adrenaline, can be highly addictive and that around 30% of children who play these games are already addicted to them.
Researchers found that watching television for three or more hours a day at the age of 14 often resulted in attention problems, not completing homework, boredom in school, not finishing high school, poor grades, negative attitudes about school, general academic failure. in high school later, and the inability to go to college.
This list also sounds a lot like a list for someone who abuses drugs, doesn’t it? We have always been concerned that watching television acts on the brain in much the same way as a narcotic, and that watching too much can be addictive. Although this study does not address that problem, the list of results of excessive visualization is certainly worrying.
Researchers conclude that we must restrict the time our children and adolescents spend watching television or playing video games.
By the way, parents, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of two do not watch television at all. Babies’ television viewing has been shown to be associated with attention control problems, aggressive behavior, and poor mental development. The AAP considers excessive television viewing by infants “one of the major public health problems facing American children.”
Parents, it is time for us to understand that television and video games are not our friends and they are not our children’s friends. We were not created to spend 40 hours a week inside our rooms, sitting on couches, playing video games, or watching television shows. We were made to move, go out and play, work, interact with others, talk, think.
It is time for us to reevaluate how we let our children live their lives. It is time for us to reevaluate our own lives. Don’t let your loved ones waste their lives in virtual worlds.