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Video games and ADHD: Do they help or hinder?

We live in a digital age where video games are part of most children’s lives. One question parents should consider is how to strike a healthy balance of positivity and gaming especially if their child has ADHD.
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Video games and ADHD: Do they help or hinder?


We live in a digital age where video games are part of most children’s lives. One question parents should consider is how to strike a healthy balance of positivity and gaming especially if their child has ADHD.

Studies have shown that gaming can affect ADHD symptoms. This includes your child’s attention span, impulsivity, and general well-being.

There are certainly some positive developmental benefits that can be gained by video games and ADHD children but there are also some negative consequences to be wary of.

We will look at just how video games and ADHD can affect children in both positive and negative ways.


Research has shown that some video games do indeed help children to manage their ADHD symptoms.

A study of children and video gaming, published in The Lancet, showed some positive results. Parents saw improvements in inattention and a low risk of side effects when using a therapeutic video game in addition to the child’s current ADHD treatment.

Here are a few ways in which video games can have a positive impact: 

Increased focus 

Video games often need attention and concentration to progress and achieve goals. This can help those with ADHD to develop their ability to focus for longer periods. 

Immediate feedback 

Video games provide immediate and frequent feedback, which can be motivating. It can help players stay engaged and learn from their actions in real time. 


Many video games involve juggling tasks, managing resources, and making quick decisions. This can improve multitasking and task-switching skills, which can be difficult with ADHD. 

Cognitive training 

Some games, such as those to improve memory or executive functions, may have cognitive training benefits. 

Stress reduction 

Engaging in enjoyable activities such as video games can help reduce stress and anxiety levels. This can help with attention and well-being. 

It’s important to remember that the impact of video games on ADHD symptoms may vary from person to person. Balance is key. 

Recommended video games with positive benefits

We’ve rounded up some of the video games which can help children with ADHD to develop useful skills and attain a certain level of symptom control but do always remember that balance and moderation are still very important and too much screen time can be detrimental to a child’s development and overall well being.


Players are given tools to build homes, machines, and other creations to explore in a virtual world. 


Players collect materials from the world around them and build whatever they like. 

Guitar Hero 

Players use a guitar-shaped game controller to simulate playing the guitar across different songs. 

Bad Piggies (Available on Apple or Google Play)

Players use different strategies to advance through the game. They need to think of ways to move the piggies through the stage.


Excessive or compulsive gaming behaviour

Research has found that those with ADHD may be more susceptible to developing a gaming addiction. Often as a coping mechanism. This can have negative consequences and make symptoms worse.

Excessive gaming can lead to increased impulsivity and decreased self-control. These are already common challenges for those living with ADHD.

Additionally, playing video games can interfere with other important aspects of life. Such as schoolwork, relationships, and sleep. 

These are a few ways video games may have a negative impact on someone with ADHD: 


Children with ADHD can be prone to hyperfocus, becoming absorbed in activities of high interest. While this can sometimes be an advantage, it can also lead to other problems. Such as excessive gaming, and neglecting other essential tasks and responsibilities.

Disrupted sleep

Playing video games late into the night can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to insufficient sleep. Lack of sleep can further impact attention, mood, and functioning during the day. 

Impulsivity and poor decision making

Some video games involve rapid decision-making and impulsivity. Someone with ADHD may already struggle with impulsivity and difficulties in inhibiting responses. Certain games may reinforce impulsive behaviours rather than help to develop self-control. 


Video games can provide an escape from real-life challenges and responsibilities. In some cases, those with ADHD may rely on gaming to avoid difficult or uncomfortable situations. This can hinder personal growth and the development of coping strategies. 

Social isolation 

Spending excessive time playing video games can lead to social isolation. Spending more time indoors in a virtual world. Excessive gaming can interfere with the development of real social connections.

It’s essential to strike a balance and check your child’s gaming habits. Try to ensure that video game use doesn’t interfere with other aspects of life. It is important to spot any potential problems and their negative consequences.


If your child is developing an unhealthy relationship with gaming, ask for help.

Gaming addiction can affect a small number of people but studies have shown it can be higher in those with ADHD. However, it is treatable with the correct support.

This quiz may show if your child is at risk of developing a problem with excessive gaming. It screens for the possibility of gaming disorder but DO NOT use it as a diagnostic tool. Make sure you seek professional help before any diagnosis.


The ADHD Centre helps children with ADHD. Our team of specialists is available to cater to your child’s unique needs. Regardless of whether they have an ADHD diagnosis or are experiencing symptoms. 

We provide private ADHD assessments conducted by our experienced ADHD psychiatrists. Our Conners 3 diagnosis assessment gathers necessary information about your child’s symptoms. 

How ADHD is affecting their life, and how the symptoms have progressed over time. Our clinical assessment also considers medical and family history. We conduct assessments in our Manchester or London clinics or online via Zoom.


Our team of experienced clinicians is on hand to provide expert insight, advice, support, and guidance on ADHD. Helping you to best manage and embrace some of the challenges. 

For more information on how we could help you: 

Call 0800 061 4276 


Follow us on social media. You can find us on Facebook or Instagram 

Book an ADHD assessment for an adult or a child  HERE

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