Quick, name something your kid can do for hours!
For many kids – ADHD or not – video games manage to capture their attention and keep it far longer than other activities, like homework and chores.
Wonder why!? It's because technology is fun, constantly changing, and provide immediate feedback. This appeals to the ADHD brain, which craves stimulation and novelty. It's like an instant dopamine reward system.
Here's the good news: You can increase focus with fun! Some screen time can help train your child and develop stronger focus and less distractibility. Now we know that Mario Kart's probably not going to cut it as far as brain training. But the creators of PlayAttention and BrainTrain based their games on “neurofeedback.” That is, with special sensors, your child's brain actually powers the games. Sound like sci-fi? The technology has been around for decades, and researchers have seen promising results when applied to kids with ADHD.
In fact, Learning Works for Kids is an entire company dedicated to providing resources galore for how to use screen time to help kids improve their executive function skills. (If you go check them out, please tell them we sent you – we love what they're doing for families!).
Remember, games can be fun but are not a substitute for a comprehensive treatment program. Nothing should replace exercise, brain breaks, appropriate systems and structures, strong communication, and so many other parts of learning to manage our kids' complex challenges. Good old-fashioned games are a great way to help your child learn to increase focus more effectively, as well.
So with the upcoming downtime of summer, I want to remind you that kids can increase focus and learn from having fun – even if they don't know it. So don't tell them they're learning – just have fun with it with them!