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Video Games and ADHD

Video Game ControllerVideo games are a hot subject for kids with ADHD and the arguments can go either way. The only thing you can really do is to educate yourself on what types of games are popular, and if they will be beneficial or harmful to your kids.

There’s a ton of games out there, and how can you know which ones are going to be good and bad? They’re always change! Not to mention all the free games online! I’m sure we all know about the ESRB ratings, you know, the ones on the little box that says what ages the game is for? But what does that really tell us?

The ESRB system, as many of you may know goes from eC (early childhood) to Ao (adults only). Generally speaking, most games rated M and above should not be played by children under the age of 17, and oftentimes for good reason. For example, games like Grand Theft Auto can be extremely violent, use extremely foul language and have you doing things that are highly illegal in the game. We encourage parents to NOT allow their kids to play this game.

Many games can get away without being rated because they’re online. Why you ask? Well because the companies can’t control what other players do and say. Therefore, online interactions cannot be rated. This is something to watch out for. Are the other kids playing this game going to be positive or negative influences?

On a brighter note, some games can promote concentration, focus and hand eye coordination. Games that are made for the Wii are especially good for this, though there are a number for other game systems and computers. Interestingly enough, some games that are rated M for mature gamers can be softer than others. For example, like the game Grand Theft Auto (GTA) we mentioned, in contrast, a popular game called Assassin’s Creed can promote some more positive traits in kids, provided they’re mature enough to handle the content, which is mostly violence and blood, but also strong language, alcohol use and sexual themes. Though this is the precise rating that GTA gets, the games are much different. Assassin’s Creed has more story line, as opposed to the more “sand-box” style approach of GTA (which can be difficult for kids with AD/HD). The story line helps keep players engaged and focused on specific tasks. So know that there can be some variation to the ESRB rating scale. If you have older kids, it’s a good idea to be accommodating to a certain extent, but know when to cut it off.

For younger kids, games that encourage learning and growth can be really beneficial, especially for kids with AD/HD. They can help keep focus, draw attention to important goals and reinforce those pathways for school.

Above all, as a concerned parent, your job is to stay on top of it and educate yourself about the new games that are coming out, and which ones to stay away from, which ones are okay, and which ones are great for your children. Happy gaming!