Children, Television, Video Games and Attention Problems

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Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

It is said that “A picture is worth a thousand words.” However, what is the impact of our children watching pictures through television and video games? Evidently, nothing good.

The University of Iowa Department of Psychology released the results of a study on the effects of watching television and video games. The outcome of this research demonstrated the very real possibility that it is best for parents to limit the amount of time children spend on both activities. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests limiting television viewing to no more than two hours per day. Why does this happen?


It isn’t clear why television and video may increase attention problems. However, some psychologists speculate that it may be due to “rapid-pacing, or the natural attention grabbing aspects that television and video games use.” In other words, the quick pace television and video may have a brain altering impact on children and adolescents. This altering of the brain is what may limit attention span.

On the other hand, life in the classroom, at home and in social situations, does not provide the fast and immediate stimulation provided by modern media. Consequently, children and teenagers lose their ability to focus. Even reading a book becomes challenging because it does not supply that rapid fire stimulation.

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Scientist still do not know what causes ADHD but the researchers involved in the Iowa study caution that television and video games may be a contribution factor to ADHD.

What are your experiences with modern media and attention problems? It would be good to hear from parents and young people.

Your comments and questions are encouraged.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

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