If you’re wondering whether spending time with video games and online friends is a good idea, they’re actually more helpful for ADHD kids than you may think.
The internet gives us a place to make friends where we are not judged.
One of my closest friends is in California — a 2-day drive from where I live. He’s a best bud. We met online and we talk pretty much every day. We’ve been friends for more than two years now — but we didn’t meet IRL until this past summer.
Since we met each other online, his mom was wigged out that I might be some crazy old man luring her kid. I totally get that because my mom was worrying about the same thing — and it’s a real possibility. But it’s not the only possibility.
Kids with ADHD sometimes (ok often) struggle with making friends — and online gaming is one place where we can rate well because of our skills, and make real friends.
Yeah, there are real safety concerns. There are creeps out there so we need to stay safe. Parents, learn about the risks, monitor the internet & put rules up. But also see this as an opportunity for us.
Not long after I met this bud, I handed my mom my headphones so she could meet him too… and the two moms have talked a few times on Skype.
The thing is… I remember never being invited to birthday parties and was bullied by the cool kids because I was different. Teachers would constantly harass me in front of my peers, which made me look stupid… and no one wants to be around a kid that is unsuccessful and labeled as “bad.”
Now that I am older, I have a better social circle. Making friends is easier than it was when I was in elementary school.
But I have also made a number of friends online and do a lot of my socializing playing video games with other kids.
The Positive Side of Gaming
I strongly recommend that parents do some research on the positive side of gaming.
My mom was always on my case about playing video games with “strangers” until she read a book called Masterminds & Wingman by Rosalind Wiseman. It basically said in one chapter that gaming is an important part of today’s social culture.
Some of the good things especially for kids who don’t make friends easy is that if you are good at a game you can get social credit or status that you might not get at school.
You also fit in better because kids with ADHD focus really well on things that they love. So if you love video games, chances are you are good at them.
Here is an excerpt from the book:
“One reason to let boys play video games (and the reason they ‘re most likely to care about ) is that video games are part of the social fabric of boys’ lives.” (Wiseman)
also from the book…
“Right now, there’s a tremendous amount of research evaluating the impact of games on brain development, and much of it contradicts our popular assumptions and what is most regularly reported in the media. Daphne Bavelier is a brain scientist who examines how to make brains smarter and faster. Her research shows that gaming can have positive effects on the brain, even first-person shooter games.” (Wiseman)
“Games make you want to work, overcome obstacles, and think through things in a different way to achieve your goals” (Wiseman)
Real Risks of Online Friendships
Of course, there are real risks when you meet people online.
To stay SAFE, make sure your kids know the rules, like never (EVER) “meet up” with people they game with online or get talked into doing anything stupid like putting pictures of themselves online.
There are creepers and bad guys online so I think it’s fair especially for younger kids for parents to have rules like no computers in bedrooms, no secret passwords and no signing up for stuff without parents permission. How can you make sure it’s a “real” kid you’re playing with? What questions should you be watching for, that might signal danger?
There are seminars on tech safety at lots of schools — look for one near you. And you can install programs on your computers & devices to help increase your privacy and monitor your kids’ online activity.
Hey, it’s almost 2017, gaming is here to stay and part of our culture. Kids with ADHD do better, gain much needed social skills and feel better about themselves when they can fully participate in what other kids are doing.
What’s your take on gaming? The best part of this blog is our community — jump in and let me know what you think!
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