According to Dr Lucas, "kids focus on videogames and television in a different way than the attention they'll use to thrive in school and life. It's not sustained attention in the absence of rewards," he said. "It's sustained attention with frequent intermittent rewards." Success while playing computer games, like unlocking a new level, releases the neurotransmitter dopamine. Abnormal levels of dopamine have been associated with ADHD and some medications for ADHD are designed to boost dopamine activity. So for kids with ADHD, playing computer games is analogous to taking medication to boost dopamine levels which can make children emotionally dependent on their gaming devices.
Dimitri Christakis, the George Adkins Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington in Seattle found that children adapt to the fast pace of electronic media. In real life, when children must work at a slower pace with less frequent rewards, they experience difficulty paying attention. Studies have shown that children with too much exposure to electronic media and television have an increased risk of developing problems with their attention spans.
Stephen Shore, Professor of Special Education at Adelphi University, suggests we use children's fascination with computer games to help them learn new skills. Shore stated, "these games are compelling to the kids, and instead of battling to eliminate them, we could use them to actually develop social skills."
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©Mary M Conneely T/A Advocacy in Action