For kids who are currently living through COVID confinement in video game-free homes, begging and pleading for a video game console of their very own seems to have reached an all-time high. Many parents, who up to this point have held firm in their video game resistance, are considering “giving in” and buying their children the video games they crave. The parents I’m hearing from are primarily being swayed by concerns for their children’s social life. With social interactions so limited right now, parents don’t want their children to be left out of the socializing that’s happening through video games.
There is truly no right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding whether or not to bring a video game console into your home. In general, parents don’t need to worry that they’ll be doing serious harm if they allow their child or teen to play video games. Research suggests that playing age-appropriate video games in moderation (about 1-2 hours a day) will not harm a child’s cognitive development.
There are also some very real social benefits to playing video games with friends, especially right now. So, letting your child get the video game console they have always wanted could be a good thing. That said, setting limits around video games is undoubtedly harder for parents of kids and teens with ADHD. While playing video games (in moderation of course) won’t harm your child, struggles around limit-setting have the potential to create substantial stress for your family.
As you decide whether to buy a video game console for your child with ADHD, consider the following:
Many kids and teens are spending a lot of time socializing via video games while we are all practicing social distancing, and allowing your child or teen to join in the fun may help reduce their feelings of social isolation. If your child or teen has ADHD, be prepared to establish firm gaming rules before the console arrives at your home and enforce these limits with the consistent use of consequences.
Mary Rooney, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco. Dr Rooney is a researcher and clinician specializing in the evaluation and treatment of ADHD and co-occurring behavioral, anxiety, and mood disorders. A strong advocate for those with attention and behavior problems, Dr. Rooney is committed to developing and providing comprehensive, cutting edge treatments tailored to meet the unique needs of each child and adolescent. Dr. Rooney's clinical interventions and research avenues emphasize working closely with parents and teachers to create supportive, structured home and school environments that enable children and adolescents to reach their full potential. In addition, Dr. Rooney serves as a consultant and ADHD expert to Huntington Learning Centers.
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