Video gaming and attention difficulties

Do children who spend a significant amount of time playing video games experience attention difficulties as a consequence? New research Published in the American Psychological Association's journal Psychology and Popular Media Culture suggestst that they do. The study found that becoming immersed in such titles can also lead to youngsters becoming increasingly impulsive.

Douglas Gentile of Iowa State University - which is home to around 28,000 students - noted the findings are important because other investigations in this area have tended to focus on genetic and biological factors as opposed to environmental ones.

According to the report, the number of hours spent on a console was the biggest contributory factor to impulsivity and attention issues, with this being the case regardless of a young person's race, socioeconomic status or gender.

The findings suggest those who play such titles may have difficulty keeping up behaviour - especially if it is viewed as boring or difficult - in an attempt to reach a certain goal.

However, Professor Annette Karmiloff-Smith CBE, a Chartered Psychologist and Professorial Research Fellow at the Birkbeck Centre for Brain & Cognitive Development, University of London, commented: "It is critical to have [a] balanced, non-emotional view of the effects of media exposure and video gaming on development.

"While this study points to increased attention problems, other studies (e.g. the work of Daphne Bavelier at Geneva University) have identified significant benefits of video games in terms of spatial cognition, improved visual acuity, better multi-tasking skills, faster yet accurate decision making skills, attention to detail and increased concentration."