A recent article from the McClatchy-Tribune News Service suggests that environmental aspects like excessive television and video game exposure may have great influence on the impulsivity and attention abilities of children. The article describes a study in which researchers observed the gaming habits of 3,000 children from a dozen schools in Singapore, aging from 8 to 17 . The study revealed that the effects of video games were both positive and negative. Video games may help with visual memory and attention, but they could diminish a child’s potential to complete goal-oriented tasks that require long term commitments. This is because, researchers suggest, the excitement of gaming might make other activities seem more mundane than they actually are. A young boy who has a passion for Mortal Combat or Call of Duty would likely skim through his nightly reading assignments, if he bothers to read them at all, as long as he can lose himself in the wonderful world of gaming at least once before bedtime. The effects of this indulgence, as revealed by the study, increase the likelihood of impulsiveness and attention disorders.
This article is not suggesting that children who play video games are automatically impulsive and require medication if they want to make anything close to the grades their parents expect from them. Referring to what was mentioned in one of our class discussions, parents should not destroy the intimate connection between electronic media and modern children because of the social consequences. Sure, too much gaming may be a direct cause of impulsive children, but how would a boy be able to socialize with his friends by discussing the latest Xbox 360 game if his parents stripped gaming from him completely? Believe me, being the middle child of five, television and video games are a huge topic in daily conversations among kids six and up. TV and video games are too engrained in our culture to keep children away from them. Even if a huge portion of the country’s parents succeeded in shutting out their children from electronic media, the social consequences for those children would have drastic effects on their self-esteem and social skills. Parents should make it a top priority to regulate the amount of gaming and TV watching done by children in their household. Before they force medication onto their children, parents must be sure they have attempted to deal with the biological and environmental influences on a child’s impulsivity and attention abilities.