Kids Have Trouble Paying Attention? Video Games May Be to Blame

Filed under: In The News, Media, Development: Big Kids, Behavior: Big Kids, Development: Tweens, Behavior: Tweens

Attention problems can continue into adulthood. Credit: Corbis


Say your child is having trouble paying attention in school? Turn off the video games.


A new study shows the more time kids spend playing video games, the more likely they are to have attention issues, according to an article published in the journal Pediatrics.

Earlier studies had already shown a link between television and attention deficits, so Edward Swing, the article's lead author and his colleagues in the psychology department of Iowa State University wanted to see if that connection extended to video games. They found a similar affect, Swing says.

Swing and his colleagues looked at more than 1,300 children in the third, fourth and fifth grades, and found that, on average, they were spending more than four hours each day playing video games or watching television. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children have no more than one to two hours of screen time each day.

The researchers assessed the children over the course of 13 months, relying on accounts from the kids and their parents to determine how much time they spent playing video games or watching television. They turned to the children's teachers for assessments of the students' abilities to pay attention. Additionally, the researchers surveyed more than 200 college students, who self-reported on their television and video game habits, and their attention problems.

Children who exceed the two-hour daily limit of screen time were nearly 1.7 times more likely to have above average attention problems. The association extended to the college-age students, suggesting that the effect can continue into adulthood, according to Pediatrics.

"It's something that could have lasting consequences," Swing tells ParentDish.

Of course, exceeding the recommended screen time isn't the sole reason children develop attention issues.

"I would view it as one risk factor," Swing says. "Some children will have attention problems if they're below that, but they would be relatively lower risk."

Related: My ADD Son Fights With His Brother All the Time

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.