Can Video Games Help Your Child’s ADHD?

African American Black Father and Son Using Touch Pad Computer TabletAn integral part of teaching kids is capturing their attention. Teach them something interesting, and even if it is does not fall under the typical definition of interesting, the subject can be spun in a captivating way. With that being said, there is a new program that has been making strides to help cure ADHD. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 11% of kids from ages 4-17 have been diagnosed with ADHD at some point in their lives. This program, called Project:EVO, is a video game app, usually enjoyed on a tablet or smartphone. The game is the perfect combination of entertainment and cognitive aspects that positively affect the player’s attention span.

Edward Martucci, PhD, who is CEO and co-founder of Akili Interactive – the company behind Project: EVO – explains, “Every second of game play is forcing an individual to process two streams of information at an ever-increasing high level.” The game consists of driving a character down a pathway that becomes increasingly complex. During the trek, different objects are set in the pathway of the user, forcing the user to make split decisions to stay alive.

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“We want kids to view this as a game; they can immediately sniff out educational software.” Martucci and team have found the perfect balance between learning and entertainment. The specific sequence of information, the required input, and the “adaptivity” involved with the technology activates a neural network – something missing from traditional software – and differentiates Project: EVO from the average video game.

The Science of Playing Games

So of course the software had to be tested out on a group of kids. The test group consisted of 80 kids from ages 8 to 12 from two states: Florida and North Carolina. Half of the kids were diagnosed with ADHD while the other half had no psychiatric diagnosis. During the 4 week test period, the children were directed to play the action video game on a tablet device at home for 30 minutes a day, five times a week. “The big finding in that realm was that it was overwhelmingly acceptable,” said Dr. Martucci. “We got on average 9 hours of game play in these kids, so they were really interacting on the device.”

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