Why so many kids with ADHD love video games

Learn about: Why so many kids with ADHD love video games from Jerome Schultz, PhD,...
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Why so many kids with ADHD love video games

People often ask me why people with ADHD and maybe kids with Asperger's syndrome are so gravitated to video games. It's a really good question. And one of the reasons that they are is that sometimes kids with ADHD and certainly kids with Asperger's syndrome have difficulty navigating the social world in school. One of the things a video game does, it allows you to focus your attention on a screen for long periods of time, which make it really unnecessary for you to have to navigate the difficult social network that's going on in schools all the time. So screens can become an escape for kids. It doesn't mean because you have ADHD or because you have Asperger's Syndrome, but it's there. It's available. And it tends to be somewhat addictive for these kids, not so much because the game draws you in. That happens too. But it also protects you from the social embarrassment that they might feel when they're not playing the game. Also if they don't play the game, and other kids are, these kids don't have anything to talk about when they do talk to each other, which is happening less and less I fear in many places in the country. I think the reason kids get pulled into these games because they're very captivating. When we talk about kids with ADHD we talk about kids whose nervous system is thought to be under aroused. That means it takes more to get their brains active than other kids. So a video game is a perfect environment for this. You've got fireworks going off. You've got bells and whistles and shooting and all kinds of things happening right there on the screen in front of you. And the brains of kids who are under aroused eat this stuff up. They love this stuff. And that's why it's so hard for us as parents to say, you need to stop laying that game. Because they're in a space where they're feeling really good. They're getting chemicals pumped into their brain that makes them feel wonderful. Who would want to put away a game if that was what it was doing to you?

Learn about: Why so many kids with ADHD love video games from Jerome Schultz, PhD,...


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Jerome Schultz, PhD

Clinical Neuropsychologist

Dr. Jerome (Jerry) Schultz is a former middle school special education teacher. He is currently in private practice as a clinical neuropsychologist and is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School in the Department of Psychiatry.  For over three decades, he has specialized in the neuropsychological assessment and treatment of children with learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other special needs. He was on the faculty of Lesley University in Cambridge MA for almost 30 years, and served there as the Founding Director of a diagnostic clinic called the Learning Lab. Before returning to private practice, Dr. Schultz served as the Co-Director of the Center for Child and Adolescent Development at the Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard Teaching Hospital.

Dr. Schultz received both his undergraduate and Master’s degree from The Ohio State University and holds a Ph.D. from Boston College. He has completed postdoctoral fellowships in both clinical psychology and pediatric neuropsychology. He currently serves on the Editorial Board of a journal called Academic Psychiatry, and is on the Professional Advisory Boards of a website called Inside ADHD.com, and the Learning Disabilities Association of America.

In addition to his clinical and educational work, Dr. Schultz serves as an international consultant on issues related to the neuropsychology and appropriate education of children and young adults with ADHD & LD and other special needs. In his current role as neuropsychological consultant to several large school districts in the Boston area, he is on the ground, in schools and working with kids and their teachers several days each week.

Dr. Schultz created an award-winning video called “Einstein and Me” about living successfully with a learning disability, and has written extensively about children with learning, behavioral and emotional challenges. He has a special education and psychology blog on the Huffington Post. His book, called Nowhere to Hide: Why Kids with ADHD and LD Hate School and What We Can Do About It, (Jossey-Bass/Wiley) which examines the role of stress in learning, has received international acclaim.


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