Learning Works for Kids' ADHD children love three things: playing computer games, watching television, and building LEGOs. Parents are often concerned about Minecraft addiction, which is an extension of all three. I have interviewed hundreds of children about Minecraft and developed strategies to keep it safe and healthy for everyone. These are the results.
Although there is no formal research on Minecraft, there is plenty of research that shows video games have positive and negative effects on children. There is compelling evidence that video games can improve processing speed and working memory, problem-solving skills and social involvement, as well as the impact of psychotherapy. Research has also shown that certain strategy-based games can help build parts of the brain, and increase cognitive flexibility.
It is crucial to be able to focus and keep your attention on one task while playing Minecraft. You must be able to focus on a specific task throughout many steps and processes if you want to build something complex or large. It's hard to believe that a child with ADHD can build something in Minecraft. He's clearly focused and paying attention. He's building his attention muscle in Minecraft, so he can use it at school.
Children are often asked to plan their homework or a project at school. They are often very disorganized and have trouble following the steps required for planning. Minecraft requires kids to plan meticulously in order to build a big, exciting project. The video will be shown to them. They will need to gather and craft all the items they will need to build it. They begin at the ground and work their way up, keeping in mind their plan and how they are completing it. This is a more engaging and fun way to teach planning skills.
As with all good things, too much can be dangerous. Children who sit in their rooms and withdraw from others raise concerns about their health and social problems. A portion of ADHD kids are obsessed with video games and overdo it. Mariellen Fischer and Russell Barkley, Ph.D. conducted a study that found ADHD teenagers play less than their neurotypical peers. However, there was a small group who were very, very involved in video games and very engaged.
Playing for an hour per day seems to be the best time for psychological adjustment. It's likely that it's healthier than sitting and watching TV. Balance is the key to all of this. Kids should exercise regularly and be involved in social activities. Digital play is part of their daily lives in today's digital age.
Absolutely. It's undisputed. ADHD children have more trouble letting go of video games than other kids. Minecraft is a sandbox, meaning you can do whatever you want in the game. There are no set goals or structures. It can be endless, which makes it difficult for children to stop playing.
About 3-10% of children are susceptible to "Internet gaming disorder." These are additional warning signs.
Encourage a balanced play lifestyle that includes different types of play on a daily basis. The type of healthy play that a child needs will vary depending on their age and interests. However, the main thing is that the parents must model it. They have to exercise. They must read. They should have a hobby. They have to make non-digital gaming more appealing by investing some time and money in it. They have to take their children to the museum or to the ballpark.
Give your child a 10-minute warning, and then set a visual timer. This can be done with other activities as well to help your children get used to it. Next, make sure they follow a set routine after playing video games. This could include a short game discussion, healthy snacks, or going outside. Finally, make sure you have clear and consistent consequences for inappropriate behavior and meltdowns. Sometimes parents need to temporarily suspend Minecraft access for a few days or more to show that they are serious before their children respond.
Ask your child to agree to let her cell phone go for a certain amount of time while she is engaged in homework. I recommend a 30- to 60 minute "handoff" after which your teen can check her phone for any messages and then return back to homework if necessary. Teens will be more attentive to their tasks if they are not able to access computers or other technology in public places. Do not focus on Minecraft shutting down, but on learning basic time-management skills. I encourage teenagers to read the time-management chapter from my book, Train Your Brain for Success: A Teenager's Guide to Executive Functions (#CommissionsEarned), and for parents to review some of our articles to learn more about time management.