Kids, TV, Video Games, and Attention
A recent study in the journal Pediatrics extended the concern over the impact of the amount of time kids spend on video games in addition to television. Many studies had shown a link between time spent on television and difficulty focusing and paying attention in class. This newer study tracked over 1,300 kids in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades for over a year and extended the association between time spent not just on television but also on video games and difficulty paying attention. The report’s conclusion is:
“Viewing television and playing video games each are associated with increased subsequent attention problems in childhood. It seems that a similar association among television, video games, and attention problems exists in late adolescence and early adulthood.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendation is that children spend no more than 2 hours per day with television and video games combined. The study found that the median exposure of these children was almost four hours and that there was as much of an impact on reported attention problems for television viewing as for video game playing. And the report went on to say:
“Those who exceeded the AAP-recommended amount of daily television and video game exposure were more likely to be above average in attention problems …”
Why might this be the case? The brain becomes trained to expect the level of engagement and activity based on exposure to its environment. Spending significant amounts of time interacting with content that moves at a pace faster than what a child would have in the classroom will make the class experience less interesting.