Videogames linked to ADHD

"Brains are being damaged," say papers.

"Videogames are linked to ADHD", the front page of today's Metro newspaper reads.

Children who play games or watch telly for more than two hours a day are up to twice as likely to suffer from attention problems linked to ADHD, the report says.

The Express' headline is more direct: "CHILDREN's brains are being damaged by videogames and TV, researchers have confirmed."

"If we train the brain to require constant stimulation and constant flickering lights, changes in sound and camera angle… then, when the child lands in the classroom where the teacher doesn't have a million-dollar-per-episode budget, it may be hard to get children to sustain their attention," Professor Douglas Gentile, who runs the Media Research Lab at Iowa State University, is quoted as saying in the Metro.

According to the Metro's report, the claims follow a study of 1500 seven to ten-year-olds and college students in the US. It showed that problems could arise after just a year of more than two hours screen time a day. The conclusion: TV and videogames "might" be a contributing factor for ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in children.

Gentile said: "ADHD is a medical condition but it's a brain condition. We know that the brain adapts and changes based on the environmental stimuli to which it is exposed.

"It is not unreasonable to believe environmental stimuli can increase the risk for ADHD in the same way cigarettes can increase the risk of cancer." What?

More detail on the study comes from a FOX News report, of all places.

Apparently the new study, from which all of this stems, followed a group of "more than 1300" school-age children, who, assisted by their parents, logged their TV and gaming hours over a year. Researchers then asked teachers to answer questions about how the children behaved in school – whether they had difficulty staying on task or often interrupted others.

"What we don't know at this point is why TV and videogames really would cause attention problems," Gentile admitted to the Mass Effect-loving network.

While the research doesn't directly prove that long screen time causes the psychological issues, "we know that earlier television watching was not caused by later attention problems," Gentile said.

Those children who spent more than two hours per day in front of the screen increased their odds of exceeding the average level of attention problems by 67 percent.

Extreme cases of attention difficulty sometimes lead to a diagnosis of ADHD. The researchers did not diagnose any kids with that condition, however.

They also tested undergraduate students. In these students, exceeding two hours of daily screen time doubled their risk of landing above average in attention problems, although they weren't diagnosed with ADHD.

It doesn't sound like anyone was diagnosed with ADHD during this study.

Gentile said the impact of TV and video games depended on lots of factors, and wasn't necessarily dramatic.

"Not every kid is going to be influenced to the same amount," he said. "No one thing causes our behaviour. It's a combination of all the pushes and pulls that we get - the media is just one variable."

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