Video Game Use Higher Among Boys With Autism, ADHD

Lee Rannals for – Your Universe Online

A new study says that children with autism spectrum disorder and ADHD are more likely to be hooked on video games.

According to research published in the journal Pediatrics, boys with autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to spend excessive amounts of time playing video games. Scientists found that boys ages eight to 18 with these conditions spent nearly twice as much time on average playing games daily, versus 1.2 hours for their counterparts with typical development.

The children who had ADHD or autism spectrum disorder were more likely to have a video game system in their room than those who did not. However, they were also more likely to show signs of video game addiction and have a harder time stepping away from games.

“These results shed light into potential associated features of problematic game use and are consistent with previous studies linking impulsivity and inattention with problematic video game use,” the authors wrote in the journal.

During the study, researchers compared rates of video game use of boys with these conditions versus those with typical development in a population of 56 boys with autism spectrum disorder, 44 boys with ADHD and 41 boys with typical development. They also looked at symptoms and game features correlated with problematic game use.

Children in the study came from an annual household income of $41,000 or greater, on average, and had a mean age of 11.7. Boys with autism spectrum disorder included 46.4 percent with autistic disorder, 25 percent with Asperger’s syndrome, and 28.6 with a pervasive development disorder not specified.

“Mastery of a video game by a boy with ASD may lead to improved self-esteem,” Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park, told HealthDay.

Parents reported their child’s video game and computer game use during time out of school, including typical weekday and weekend estimates separately. They also listed their boy’s three most favorite games.

The team found no specific genre of game significantly more popular among children with autism spectrum disorder or ADHD compared with typical development, though children with typical development were more likely to play shooting games and sports games.

“Causal conclusions cannot be drawn from the current ï¬ndings. Longitudinal studies are needed to extend this research and to examine the long-term effects of screen-based media use in children with [autism spectrum disorder],” the authors wrote.

A study published in April in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders suggested that scientists could find a way to use video games to help autistic children with communication and social skills.

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