Frequently, video games are cited as major factors in contributing to the prevalence of attention deficit disorder, or ADD, among modern adolescents. Issues in behavior and attention span, both within an educational and a family setting, are often linked to the abundance of video games that today’s young people increasingly play, and such links have met with skepticism and support alike throughout the mental health communities. While the suggestion that a single activity or outside product such as a video game could be responsible for the manifestation of a complex mental health issue is thought by some to be dubious, others suggest that the frequency with which young people play video games may render the responsibility possible.
Adding its weight to the debate, a recent study performed at Iowa State University has examined the effects of frequent video game use on two types of attention-related behavior, termed as “gearing up” and “just in time.” The former type of attention is described as being used while a video game player anticipates a certain action, while the latter can be associated with reaction speed to unexpected stimuli. The study found that video game players identified as spending a lot of time in front of the screen were slower with “gearing up” tasks than they were with “just in time” tasks as created within the laboratory, results that point to a decline in the natural ability to hold attention while waiting for a planned event.
The study does not seek to conclude whether video games have an adverse effect on attention and behavior altogether, but the evidence presented suggests that prolonged exposure to video games may diminish at least one aspect of attention. The researchers note that further study is required to explore additional
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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