Causes of ADHD – Environmental Factors – Violent Video Games
Environmental factors that contribute to ADHD can sometimes truly be environmental. Michigan State ADHD researcher Joel Nigg cites evidence
indicating that between 2% and 10% or even 15% of ADHD in children can be caused by environmental contaminants such as lead poisoning or mercury poisoning, among many other types of environmental contamination.
When considering environment, however, social environment as well as factors that are largely controllable may play a significant role in the development of ADHD symptoms in a large percentage of children and even adults who are diagnosed with the disorder or who manifest the symptoms.
For example, early hypotheses linking violent video game play to ADHD symptoms seem to be supported by more-current research. Iowa State University researchers find a relationship between many ADHD symptoms and violent video game play. The results of their research are published in Overcoming ADHD Without Medication. It stands to reason that if a child’s mind is developing rapidly and if a child is deeply impressionable, that hours of play on highly-stimulating video games, or hours in simulated shooting sprees, complete with animated sanguinary effects, can disorient a child or teen, and cause them to behave in an unfocused and socially inappropriate way in school. Iowa State also finds a further correlation between violent video game play and aggression in children. Again, it is a reasonable hypotheses that playing violent video games or regularly watching violent movies can affect the behavior of children in a structured setting such as at school.
Some parents in the inner-city are surprised when they hear from educators that playing violent video games can be detrimental to the social, mental, and even academic development of a child or teen. Educators, then, should, and sometimes do, help parents to understand that socially pro-active games, that might include educational video games or non-violent video games, are preferable to violent video games and much less damaging to the child’s psychological well-being. School administrators, including principals can use their influence to help parents create appropriate limits in the home, one that will provide a positive social atmosphere, conducive to a child’s cognitive and psychological development. One positive result of this effort can be in fostering more-consistent academic achievement for individual children and teens, as well as an improved mental-social profile for children. ADHD symptoms can also be minimized for a certain subset of children and teens.
Not every child who plays violent video games manifests ADHD symptoms or is aggressive, any more than every smoker develops cancer. However there is a correlation that both parents and educators should be aware of. There are numerous other environmental factors that can be similarly addressed and that will be considered in future articles on this blog.