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ADHD Kids and Video Games

Key Takeaways: 

  1. Explore effective parenting strategies for managing your child's gaming habits.
    1. Emphasize the importance of steering clear of violent or inappropriate games for younger kids.
    2. Follow the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendation of no more than one hour of screen time on weekdays and two hours on weekends.
    3. Use tools like an analog clock to help children visually manage and transition away from gaming time.
    4. Treat video games as a privilege that is earned through fulfilling daily expectations, including behavior and household chores.
    5. Replace impulsive reactions to your child's gaming habits with consistent and structured strategies.


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When my son was in high school, the Xbox disappeared from our house for a year and a half. 

The more he played video games, the more irritable and selfish he became, and the more we argued. This continued for several years until he was in 10th grade when I said, “Enough is enough.” I took the Xbox out of the house. He got it back in 12th grade when his brain was more developed and he could handle it. 

It's very common for kids with ADHD to become more emotionally dysregulated due to their excessive gaming. I’m not suggesting that anybody remove video games from their house like I did. However, I often find kids with ADHD are permitted to game excessively, and often, video games are treated as an entitlement rather than something that is earned for meeting daily expectations at home. So, here are my suggestions.

How to Manage Video Games:

  • Game Content Matters: Avoid violent or morally questionable games for younger kids. Games like Grand Theft Auto, which feature violence and other mature content, can have a detrimental impact.
  • Recommended Screen Time: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one hour of screen time on weekdays and two hours on weekends. While not all parents adhere to this, it's a good framework to start from.
  • Transitioning Strategies: Transitioning away from video games can be a challenge. In my Executive Function Crash webinar series, part of the ADHD Dude membership site, I teach a strategy using an analog clock to help kids understand how to "feel time" and help them transition off of video games.  This strategy is the one that parents are most surprised about how much it helps when their child can visually see an upcoming transition.
  • Earned Gaming Time: Video games should be treated as a privilege, not an entitlement. I suggest creating a balance of daily expectations involving behavioral expectations and helping with household chores expectations. Setting up daily expectations is taught in the Scaffolding Better Behavior Parent Training program.

 Instead of reacting impulsively to your child's gaming habits with nagging or prompting, which often leads to an argument, make video games an incentive for meeting daily expectations rather than treating them as an entitlement your child feels they should have when they want. These approaches help manage their gaming time and teach them valuable life skills. For more in-depth strategies and insights, I invite you to explore the resources on the ADHD Dude Membership Site.

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