Video games have long been a source of controversy when it comes to childhood and adolescent development.
As an estimated 91 percent of children ages 2 to 17 play video games, the prevalence of gaming isn’t in question, but rather the potential adverse effects of excessive play.
It’s important to recognize that video game addiction isn’t officially recognized as a diagnosis or disorder in all places.
The World Health Organization included “gaming disorder” in its reference book, International Classification of Diseases, beginning in 2018.
It’s defined as “a pattern of gaming behavior… characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences” for at least 12 months.
However, the American Psychiatric Association’s manual, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), doesn’t include a diagnosis of gaming disorder. Instead, gaming disorder is suggested as an area in need of further research.
At the same time, one 2018 review estimated that 2 to 5.5 percent of adolescents and young adults may have a video game addiction, raising concerns about the development of gaming disorders.
One area of concern for some parents is if there is a connection between video gaming and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a common neurodevelopmental disorder known for causing chronic patterns of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention.
Some studies have sought to understand whether those diagnosed with ADHD are more likely to show signs of gaming addiction. Some have also raised questions about whether video gameplay can contribute to the development of ADHD or ADHD-like symptoms.
However, it’s important to note that “contrary to multiple conspiracy theories on the internet, video games do not cause ADHD,” says Pareen Sehat MC, RCC, clinical director at Well Beings Counselling.
Video games can appeal to individuals with ADHD in numerous ways, explains Dr. Olivia Grace, a clinical psychologist who specializes in acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for video game addiction and internet gaming disorder at The Mindful Gamer.
“Video games these days typically bombard the player with achievements, rewards, and goals to accomplish within the first few moments of playing,” says Grace.
“Most actions within video games are fast-paced, requiring intense focus and reaction time, which allow them to enter a deep state of focus that they find difficult to reach during any other activity.”
All of these aspects of gaming may particularly appeal to people with ADHD. However, while children with ADHD may have an increased risk for addictive behaviors …….